Digital Technology ‘Nudges’ Mike’s Quality Cameras into Closing Its Doors

Mike’s Quality Cameras co-owners Pam Coz-Hill and Rob Coz.
Mike’s Quality Cameras co-owners Pam Coz-Hill and Rob Coz.

Mike’s Quality Cameras, a fixture in Downtown Visalia since 1977, is closing its doors. The shop is currently liquidating its inventory by selling everything at cost.

The store, founded by Mike Coz in 1977, first opened its doors at 111 W. Main St., before moving to its larger location at 105 E. Main St. in 1985. When Coz retired in 1987, he left Mike’s Quality Cameras to his children, Pam Coz-Hill and Rob Coz.

Eleven years later, the camera business started to change. Coz-Hill first noticed the effects of technology on their business in 1998, when about 5% of their customers went digital, even though “the resolution was only good for their computer screen.”

This was happening despite the fact that a one-megapixel camera sold for about $1,000 then. (They sell for about $89 now.) After almost 20 years of improvements, digital cameras now offer 24-megapixel resolution for less than $800.

“By 2005, people were starting to embrace digital,” she added.

The change to digital “snuck up on us,” said her brother, Rob. He added that when cameras first went digital, the change brought people back into the shop, but he quickly learned that this increase in business was only temporary.

“They would buy a camera and they would buy a printer and then you never see them again,” he said.

Pam Coz-Hill and Mike Coz on opening day, Sept 15, 1977, 111 W. Main St., Visalia.
Pam Coz-Hill and Mike Coz on opening day, Sept 15, 1977, 111 W. Main St., Visalia.

“We became part of the electronics industry which has razor-thin profit margins,” said Coz-Hill, adding that the “poor profit structure” of the electronics business has “nudged us into retirement.”

Coz-Hill has been “semi-retired,” only coming to the shop one day a week “to do the office stuff.” She plans to spend her extra time taking care of her 89-year-old mother.

Coz plans to go sailing and snow skiing. He still intends to offer services such as film transfer to tape and DVD.

For more information, call 733-3882.

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