JERSEY CITY, NJ - Autograph Film on Jersey City’s West Side has opened its doors for a limited schedule after being closed during COVID-19. Currently located at 440 West Side Avenue, Autograph Film closed its doors on March 21, two days after Governor Phil Murphy declared a State of Emergency in response to the public health crisis.
But in many respects, only the store itself shut its doors, said owner Rich Mellish. His business, he said, existed in a “gray zone” during the shut down. “We couldn’t shut down totally because we work with the police departments for BCI,” Mellish said. “I work closely with the lab. I’m on call and I’m essential to their operations so I have to be on hand for that.”
“We’ve been in business since 1946,” he said. “We were originally at another location on West Side Avenue. We’re basically an old-fashioned store.” This means the store still deals in film and film cameras – something that seems to have gone out of fashion with the development of digital camera.
“We still have new cameras and used, we buy and sell,” he said. “We actually have a big following for film.” This includes an age group from 16 to 30 and a group of skateboarders who use traditional film.
“Film is like cult these days,” he said. “It’s lucky I kept all my old equipment.”
His is one of the few shops that sell and develop film, and he provides services both on a professional and commercial level. This is not to say that he’s stuck back in the 20th Century. He provides services for the digital era as well, including a printer that allows people to bring in their memory card from camera or cell phone.
He even sells digital cameras. “We’ve kept up with the technology,” he said.
This is not to say the shutdown failed to impact business.
“We maintain business by appointments only,” he said. “We have an abbreviated schedule. We’re open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from noon until 5 p.m. During the lockdown, Mellish said he made a lot of his business connections via email. Customers would send him images to be printed out or have other issues that he could resolve remotely.
People can still email him with questions or schedule an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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