Local camera store Fullerton Cameras announced in an Instagram post on Dec. 9 that they would be closing their doors after being open for 23 years. The news comes a few short months after store owner Mike Rice passed away in September.
The current owner and wife of Mike, Marni Rice, has been trying to keep the store open since her husband’s passing.
She explained her husband’s legacy and shared that he had been in the camera industry for over 20 years. Mike Rice even had some experience working for the optical products company, Canon. He later opened his own camera store in Fullerton that was initially called “Fullerton Used Cameras.” At the time, Mike Rice mainly sold used cameras, hence the name, but eventually began selling new cameras and other equipment in his store. The store name later changed to the name that we know today.
Marni Rice shared more about what her husband meant to the community. Mike Rice also donated to Make A Wish and assisted students from local schools. The store not only meant a lot to Mike Rice, but also to their two daughters who frequently visited or helped around the store along with Marni Rice.
“My husband regularly worked 14 hour days, sometimes more, seven days a week. He loved it. It was his passion,” she said.
Photographer Rebecca Zeller is saddened to hear about the passing of Mike Rice and the news about Fullerton Cameras. When she was attending Fullerton High School in 2001, she frequently shopped at the store and even purchased her first camera around the time it first opened.
“The owner was really nice. He would set up photo competitions for local students during the first or second year when they opened. Mike was very involved in the community and tried to get kids involved into photography,” Zeller said.
Fullerton college photography instructor Jeff Minton understands the reason for the store’s closure and thanked them for all the years they were open. Running a small business is not an easy task for anyone.
Minton often recommended and sent photography students to purchase cameras and other necessities at Fullerton Cameras. He also mentioned that students from Cypress College also frequented the store for camera equipment and advice.
The loss of Mike Rice and the store’s closure have genuinely impacted the Fullerton and photography community.
“It was a community store. A lot of the same customers would just go into the store to hang out and talk. I was so happy when it first opened,” Minton said.
Filmmaker Daryl Hutchison first discovered the store when he drove past it growing up. After he first went into the store, he often returned to purchase and sell camera equipment.
Hutchison has fond memories of Mike Rice. The owner would often give him student discounts and was always kind to him.
“I don’t think I ever had a bad interaction with Mike. He was always really cool and really helpful.
When Hutchison first saw the Instagram posts by Fullerton Cameras announcing the plan to close the store, he was devastated.
“Fullerton Cameras was such a staple for photography in Southern California, more specifically Orange County. For it to not be there anymore, I wonder where people will get their cameras and film photography equipment,” Hutchison said.
Fullerton Cameras is still open for a short period of time. They plan to close the store on Dec. 21.
Edit: This article was edited for a date typo.