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But while most of us talk the talk, Jess Wells actually clocked a prospective thief with his Nikon FTN during a walk years ago back in New York City. A guy wanted his camera; Wells gave it to him upside the head. Major cred. Great story.
Try to find anything like it while buying a memory card at Best Buy.
Wells works at Lewis Camera Exchange, a store full of a little bit of digital but mostly soulful old F1 lenses and F4 bodies and Ilford paper and dangerous developing chemicals and oodles of institutional knowledge.
Vince Ruggiero started the store back in 1972. Most of his business still comes from ASU and other college students learning the fundamental arts and crafts of photography.
The digital age is hurting them. Five other real camera stores have folded in Arizona in the last five years because of lost revenue to megastores selling digital cameras and their memory cards.
But Ruggiero continues to survive, thanks to a loyal clientele. And clients are loyal because Ruggiero offers reasonable prices and, more important, staffers who know what they're talking about and love to talk about what they know.
Pop goes the culture weasel at this ever-so-funky haven of '50s decor and soda fountain memorabilia. Nowhere else will you find a funky Mork & Mindy card game, a funky Clash of the Titans metal lunchbox, and funky old posters touting entertainment ranging from Vic Damone on the Pet Milk Show to Whitesnake's "Return of the Snakes" tour. A funky Hamm's sign features the beer's motto, "Born in the Land of Sky Blue Waters," next to a groovy moving picture of said land. Bo's funky animal selection includes a life-size stuffed camel with a moving head, and a ceramic dog with a Hennessy keg protruding from its neck.
Funky '50s fun includes an enormous Bob's Big Boy sign, a huge soda fountain and jukeboxes, one actually containing a song called "Cruisin' With the Fonz." Sure, Fonz was cool, but was he funky?
If you don't mind the swap-meet frazzle, and you are mindful of watching for flaws, you can make a killing here. It's not uncommon to pay $29 for shoes here that are selling for $130 within a mile of the store. Ten-dollar shirts are $50 anywhere else.
Again, though, being smart is the key. Most every Last Chance aficionado has reveled in a purchase only to find a hidden tear or stain at home.
After all, Last Chance isn't just a name, it's a dire warning. But it's also a challenge.
Owners John Johnstonbaugh and Sandra Sanchez are on to something. Within the carefully cluttered rooms of a former ranch house, the duo creates daring flower sculptures like a re-creation of the Cirque du Soleil. Their biggest job involved some conspicuous consumers who spent $35,000 just on a New Year's Eve party. "Lavish" and "decadent" are the words du jour here, with the most exotic flowers of the world arriving daily, then sprinting out the door to the melodic ching-ching of the cash register. It's a lucrative game, this petal pushing.