One of Commercial Street’s longest established businesses has a new boss this week. The Camera Centre, which has operated in the town centre for 32 years, has been taken over by staff member Ben Mullay.
The shop, run by Cecil Hughson since its formation in 1978, was transferred into Mr Mullay’s name on Tuesday and a new company has been registered.
Mr Mullay, 30, who has worked in the shop “on and off” since he was at school, has bought the Camera Centre name and has taken over the lease of the building.
He said: “I have registered a new company in my own right, it’s a good challenge and I’ll continue the work Cecil did over the years.”
The change does not mean Mr Hughson is leaving the shop, however. Mr Mullay said: “Instead of working eight days a week he [Cecil] will be working five days. It will be good to still have him around, for the social aspect as much as anything, he knows so many people and they come into the shop.”
The bank holiday at the weekend gave Camera Centre staff a chance to make some changes to the shop. A new till system has been installed, some walls have been knocked down and the shop “re-jigged”. Ultimately this will mean more customer space.
There will be more focus on the kiosks – a new one will be added before the Tall Ships visit, making a total of five from which customers can print out photos from their digital cameras or cameraphones.
And a big TV above them with a promotional DVD playing to showcase products.
There will be investment in machinery too. “We’re trying to make the shop more modern,” Mr Mullay said.
He continued: “We’re keen to develop the [shop’s] good reputation, that’s very important. We appreciate our loyal customer base and if anyone hasn’t tried us yet, come along.”
Taking over the shop seems a logical step for Mr Mullay, who has a business studies degree from Edinburgh’s Napier University.
He has been interested in photography since the age of 13 and has a wedding photography business in his own right.
Mr Hughson said about handing the business on: “I’m giving him [Ben] a hand, I passed the audition.”
He would miss the shop if he gave it up completely, he said. “I like meeting the public and chatting, that’s my favourite thing about the shop. I’ve made a lot of friends over the years.”
As his wife Sheila is involved in the Fish Bowl shop next door (owned by the couple’s son) and comes into Lerwick every day: “ I come up too so as not to lose touch with the public.”
He would continue to do family, children’s and wedding photography, he added.
Mr Hughson was originally a teacher of technical subjects but had trained as a photographer while lodging in Edinburgh with his uncle and aunt, who owned a photography studio.
On returning to Shetland he “realised there was a gap in the market for selling expensive cameras, and quickly realised the need for processing films”.
Teaching was dropped in favour of setting up the Camera Centre, which started in a tiny Market Cross premises, formerly a fish and chip shop. In those days, he said, films had to be sent away to Kodak and it cost £9.50 for a spool of 36 photos. “Now you get it in half an hour for the same price.”
He is proud to have been in business so long and wishes Mr Mullay every success.