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Iconic Photo Shoppe to close doors as owners announce retirement

Nicole A. Hawley
Staff writer
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Posted 1/7/23

After more than 30 years of serving the area’s photography needs, owners of The Photo Shoppe Fusion Art & Gift Gallery, 8584 Turin Road, have announced their retirement.

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Iconic Photo Shoppe to close doors as owners announce retirement


ROME — After more than 30 years of serving the area’s photography needs, as well as in recent years giving space to local artists to showcase and sell their works, Maria and Alan Ringlund, owners of The Photo Shoppe Fusion Art & Gift Gallery, 8584 Turin Road, have announced their retirement.

The Photo Shoppe Fusion Art & Gift Gallery will close its doors under the Ringlunds’ ownership on March 31.

Maria and Alan started The Photo Shoppe back in 1992 — moving periodically as they outgrew spaces on East Chestnut and North James streets before settling at their current location on Turin Road in April 2014.

Once on Turin Road, Maria said she and her husband decided to host gallery shows with opening receptions, which quickly grew in popularity thanks to local artists who wanted and needed a space to show their paintings and craft pieces, such as jewelry, glasswork, woodworking and fiber arts.

Maria said the community of artists was immediately supportive of the space.

“We had exhibitions booked two years in advance,” she said.

But photography has always been at the forefront of the business, and Maria continues to specialize in portraits and photo restoration work. Today she has contracts to shoot professional portraits for AmeriCU Credit Union, Rome Police and Fire departments, Oneida County Sheriff’s Office and Rome Health.

Before Maria and Alan started their own business, Maria had been working as the photo center manager at Oliver Office Equipment Co. But as their film developing equipment began to age, becoming inefficient and obsolete, she grew weary of her job.

“She would come home from work so frustrated, so once I said, ‘Why don’t you open your own place?,’” Alan recalled telling his wife. “’Maybe we could do this better.’”

That is how the Ringlunds decided to give their photography business a shot, and began attending trade shows in order to purchase the best machines and equipment at the time.

In addition to developing camera film, the Ringlunds also decided to expand the retail side of their shop, specializing in framing and also sold frames separately. After outgrowing that space they went to the former Ringdahl’s Florists, which in recent years had been occupied by Hummel’s.

At the East Chestnut Street location, “We even carried chemicals (for developing), albums, lens caps, batteries” and other photo and camera supplies, Maria said. As the business began serving more and more area photographers — professional and amateur — and the Ringdahl building was sold to Hummel’s, it was time for another move.

Once at their James Street location that followed, Maria said she began getting into portrait work, and their custom framing business also took off.

Later would come the surge in digital technology. Originally offered to professional photographers for a heavy price, due to technology advances in the mid to late 1990s, digital cameras became commonly available to the general public. The Ringlunds would purchase a digital machine for film processing, but also continued using chemicals — at first.

“They started discontinuing parts” to the chemical developing machine “along with the machines, so now we saw the writing on the wall,” said Alan. “Then photo albums and cameras started to take the form of what we carry in our pockets — our cell phones.”

At about the time DeCleveland Antiques moved out of 8584 Turin Road, the Ringlunds were already being approached by local artists and crafters who expressed a wish for a place to sell their work. The Ringlunds found the shop to be a quaint space to support local artists who could be given the opportunity to make a fair profit on their art sales, while also being able to show off their talent at gallery.

“We wanted to show the talent in our area that we saw, but we weren’t sure the community was seeing,” Alan said. “We were able to use the rest of the space so artists could sell their goods out of here and still be able to make a little profit by the end of the month. For example, we just take 25% commission if anything sells, and then we also host an opening for them.”

Both Maria and Alan said it made them feel good to support art in their community through their business.

“It would make our artists feel good to show and sell their work, and the turnout for our receptions was always incredibly strong,” Alan said.

“With digital came Adobe Photoshop, and I loved doing the invitations for the shows,” Maria recalled. “I’d not only include the photo of the artist, but I also designed something that went with their personality that fit the show and art they created.”

While in retirement the Ringlunds said they hope to have a little more free time and opportunities to travel, Maria plans to continue her passion for photography and work on some side projects.

“I still want to do the business part-time,” said Maria, adding that her latest passion has been photo coffee books where she specializes in her own custom layouts.

She also hopes to continue doing portrait work for individuals, businesses and agencies.

“I enjoy doing books for people, Christmas cards and photo restorations,” Maria added. “And I can do those things out of my home — I don’t need a retail space.”

As for having the business and art gallery, “We’re so happy we did it, and I’m partly sad” to be saying goodbye, said Maria. “We’ve also had some amazing employees over the years, and it was fun changing and diversifying our business.”

“We accomplished our goal, being an outlet for local artists and their products,” Alan added.
“And now we need time to enjoy and to travel.”

Maria and Alan have also been known to follow some of their favorite musical artists and bands, with the Ringlunds showing off poster-sized photos of favorites like John Mellencamp and Billy Joel in their shop. They have even had back stage passes to photograph the late Tom Petty, and Maria has created a photo book of their favorite musician, along with pictures of ticket stubs from shows they have attended.

As for their passion for music and music photography, “We’ll definitely have more time to dedicate to that and hit the road,” Alan beamed.


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