We received a call last Saturday. Well, actually we didn't receive a call last Saturday, because sadly every phone in the house was dead.

The phone downstairs just stopped recharging for no reason recently and finally gave up the ghost for good about a week before. The upstairs phone had been left downstairs, out of its charger, after a marathon call that had lasted over an hour. And I'd forgotten to recharge my cell phone that had made a cheery little sound and then had shut itself off.

It's funny that we didn't even notice that we were phoneless until Monday morning when I needed to make a call.

We don't normally receive that many phone calls - unless it's a birthday, holiday, special occasion. Otherwise, it's a wrong number here, a solicitation there, another attempt by AT&T to sell us on their U-Verse service. And most calls out we make by cell phone, which are fewer in number when we have company - which we had.

So, when I needed to make a doctor's appointment on Monday, I tracked down the upstairs handset, abandoned downstairs next to the broken phone. When I placed it in its charger, it told me I should wait 6 hours before using it. My cell phone, I could use, while it was plugged in and charging - which I did.

But as I passed the landline phone, still on it's first hour in the charger, I saw that there was a voicemail. I didn't wait another 5 hours and checked the message.

It was from Wolf Camera and had been left Saturday afternoon. I wasn't surprised that they had called. We'd ordered a few prints online and then had gotten busy with life and hadn't had a chance to pick them up. I figured the call was a reminder.

It began: "I have two things to tell you. First, your photos are ready to be picked up. Second, this location is shutting down permanently, so if you don't pick up your order by tomorrow afternoon, it'll be sent to our Lamar location on Monday."

Since it was already Monday when I received the message, my prints were Lamar-bound.

I was surprised the location closed, but didn't realize the extent of the problems the company was experiencing until I received the following in an email:

Over the past few months, most of us have become painfully aware that the U.S. economy has tumbled into very turbulent times. As a result, Ritz Camera filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. However, unlike several major retail chains that have since closed, Ritz Camera has successfully emerged from bankruptcy stronger than ever, and will continue to offer our exceptional service to you, our customer. We are as committed as ever to providing you with the best possible online imaging experience, and we are happy to say that Ritzpix.com is here to stay.

As an unfortunate consequence of these economic times and our emergence from bankruptcy, a store you have ordered to sometime within the past year (Wolf Camera 1784 , 10900-B Lakeline Mall Drive, Austin, TX) has closed.

Please use our Location Selector to find another store conveniently located in your area of work, shopping, or home.

When I used the Location Selector, I discovered that there were only two Wolf Camera stores left in Austin.

I wondered what consumer cutbacks had led to the company's bankruptcy. Had people stopped printing photos altogether? Were pictures now a luxury? Or were former customers printing them at Wal-mart or on their home printers? Or had camera equipment been Wolf Camera's bread and butter? Was the problem people who were duct-taping the battery compartments of their cameras together instead of splurging on new equipment?

Yes, that's a rather specific musing, isn't it? It just came to mind as I gazed across the room at my own camera, adorned in silver duct tape.

Hmmmm... Maybe Wolf Camera should start stocking rolls of duct tape. Then they'll be in the black in no time.

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In 2007, we moved to Austin, and this blog chronicled our adaptation to Texas life: festivals, wildflowers, and bats - oh my! Then we had a baby, and that changed everything, so now, we blog about where to buy organic food, what parks are fun for babies, which exterminator is taking care of our scorpion problem. (You know, the usual parental concerns.)


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