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Friday, May 6, 2016

Omni Photo ends an era in downtown SL

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Out of Business: New plans for the Sargents

The days of the Mom and Pops shops located on Main Street USA are rapidly dwindling. This is evident with the impending closing of Storm Lake's Omni Photo Radio Shack, a business formally known as Sportsmans Photo which has spanned over 40 years in Storm Lake. The blood, sweat and tears that went into building Craig and Nancy Sargent's business are also those going into preparing for the end.

Craig Sargent went to work for Earl Trickel while still in his teens at Sportman's Photo, located a block north of their current site, learning the ins and outs of cameras and photography. In 1983 Sargent purchased the business from Trickel.

The Sargents proceeded to add a photo lab and began building a large clientele that included Storm Lake's police and fire departments, the City of Storm Lake, the Buena Vista County Sheriff's Department and countless photo enthusiasts and businesses.

In 1990 the Sargents moved their fast growing business to their current location at 515 Lake Avenue, where they then became Omni Photo. Shortly thereafter they bought in to the Radio Shack franchise.

Throughout the years Omni Photo had became an institution offering one hour and next day developing, enlargements and copies of photos without negatives all being done in house without worries of losing precious negatives filled with a person's history. As business grew the Sargents continually upgraded their facilities. Nancy proudly explained, "We continually upgraded our labs to give our customers the best photos that they could get."

Changing technology and the growing number of convenient locations for photo and electronics has led to a drop in customers. The same is true of entire main street shopping districts. For over three years, the Sargents have absorbed declining business. In October, they decided that they would need to plan to close their store. The decision was a tough one. "Customer buying habits have changed, there's a lot of little things that have contributed to that," Craig said. "The loss of JC Penney was a huge blow for downtown."

The Sargents had dreamt that one day their daughter Jennifer would take over their well-established business.

She had worked for her parents throughout high school and following graduation from college became a more permanent fixture taking over the position of Lab Manager three years ago. As luck would have it, a few weeks ago Jennifer had announced that her husband had taken a position with a company out of town and the family would soon relocate. The Sargents were grateful for their decision as they were about to tell their daughter that she was to soon be without a job.

What will they miss most? Nancy says, "I will miss all of the great people that have worked for us and of course our loyal customers. The hardest part about quitting is that we are not quitters."

Craig continued to explain that there is a lot of hard work and hours that go in to a business. "I hate to see it go, but it also allows more free time and less stress or worries."

The business began the going out of business sale January 3rd. A final closing date has yet to be determined.

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