This September sees the 50th anniversary of Harrison cameras. The company had humble beginnings with the groundwork being laid in 1970 by Ron Harrison. With limited resources, but a wealth of experience, Ron began building Harrison Cameras, quickly building a loyal customer base out of the original shop at 77-79 London Road, Sheffield.
Picture: Ron Harrison walks down London road in Sheffield.
In 1972 Harrison Cameras was made a limited company and the company as we know it was born.
Picture: Glyn Harrison serving a customer in the original shop location circa 1989.
The shop quickly became very popular and Ron called on his family to help him manage. Ron’s son, Glyn, remembers the time spent in the shop helping out.
“I was at school when the shop opened, but used to get the bus down to London Rd after school to help in the shop. Evenings and weekends were generally spent at the shop, as Dad struggled to cope with all of the demands of running the shop, so family was called on. Mum used to go down every afternoon to take his lunch and help out in the shop. My Grandparents also went daily to assist.”
After leaving school at 18 Glyn was made a director of the company and continued to work in the store helping his father grow the business, moving premises a couple of times, but always staying on London Road. At the time Harrison Cameras was facing a lot of competition from other local retailers as well as the introduction of larger chains setting up in Sheffield. The main focus was to survive which lead to some interesting ideas:
“My first major input was to organise a January sale. We prepared loads of marked down stock, and left the items in the window a week or so before the sale started. These items could not be sold until the following Saturday, when the sale started. No advertising, only word of mouth and keen customers staring in the window. At that time, there were many passers by as people made their way into town on foot. This event allowed us to have an amazing sale with many dozens of people queuing when the sale started.”
In 2001 Harrison cameras moved into the current location at 112-114 London Road, Glyn remembers the feeling around the new home.
“It was formerly an antiques store, and was in a pretty neglected state, and required a lot of refurbishment but it did mean that we could completely start anew. We were very proud of the store, which did allow us to offer a wider range of photo services too.
The transfer of stock from the old premises was completed by shop staff after working a full Saturday selling, and then physically carrying stock all evening, and all day on Sunday ready for the shop to open on Monday.”
Harrison Cameras were quick to embrace the online shopping revolution and with the increase in demand expanded their operation to include a warehouse, office and customer service department located in Chesterfield.
With the drive of Glyn, Alison and Michael Beckingham (Who recently took over from Glyn as managing director) the company has continued to thrive. Careful planning and dedicated staff has seen the company ride through the last few years continuing to develop and grow despite the circumstance that we have all found ourselves in. And what of the future? Despite retirement Glyn still has a keen interest in the family business and believes that the current team will continue to drive the company forward into the future.
“It is quite incredible to think that the company thrives in 2022, especially given the challenges of the last few years. Without doubt, our early commitment to online sales driven by Alison and Michael was one of the best decisions made to date. Online sales will become an ever more important arm of the business. However, there will always be demand for personal service, the ability to handle and inspect equipment and receive excellent unbiased advice face to face. I foresee the shop playing an important role in the future, although the retailing experience is bound to change in the coming years, and the company will certainly adapt to meet these challenges.”
To celebrate this significant landmark Harrison Cameras will be holding a four day celebration on 2nd-5th September which will include in store events, competitions, talks and workshops including a talk and photowalk with Sean Tucker on the 4th September. Harrison cameras will be hosting events from Canon, Panasonic, Sony, Benro, Zeiss and OM System to name a few. You can keep up to date on our events page.