December 2020 marks Kamerastore’s 10th year in business. Below is a short timeline of how we got here.
Kameratori OY established.
Juho Leppänen teams up with Jussi Lehmus after spending years selling cameras from his living room. The two register their new business in Finland as Kameratori OY.
First Store Opens
Kameratori opens their first retail shop in a 60 sq meter space next to the Tampere central bus station.
eBay Listing Begins
eBay user Kameratoridotfi begins listing and selling cameras.
First EmployeeKameratori’s first employee, Antti Heikkinen, is hired. He would go on to become Chief Product Officer.
Retail Shop MovesKameratori moves into a 250sq meter space which was previously a car wash.
3 New Hires
Three new people join the team, all of which are still present in 2020.
Finland’s First Power SellerKameratori becomes Finland’s first “eBay Power Seller” for receiving 1,000 customer reviews.
New Camera Technician
Kameratori hires its first dedicated camera technician.
Product ExpansionKameratori programmers create a simple and usable E-commerce website as an alternative to eBay. Other Finnish camera stores begin listing items on Kameratori.fi as well.
Quality Control ConcernsIt becomes clear that the majority of incoming items are in need of repair, and efforts will need to be made to ensure the future of analog camera repair.
Repair Shop AcquisitionKameratori merges with Kamera-Apu, a camera repair shop in Helsinki that dates back to the 1970s.
New Shop Location
The Tampere store moves to a smaller but nicer location on Pyynikintori, and a second shop location is opened in Helsinki.
eBay Selling EndsThe decision is made to stop selling on eBay and sell solely on kameratori.fi.
30,000 Items Sold
New Shop LocationThe main Kameratori office moves from Pyynikintori into a 3 story, 400 sq meter building in Tampere’s city center.
Name Change/AdditionTo compete in international market, Kameratori adds the anglicized name “Kamerastore”.
European TourKameratori goes on a European tour – buying, selling, and networking around Europe.
Kamerastore hires its first international employees, interns and freelance workers.
Olympus PartnershipKamerastore partners with Olympus for a gear exchange program in 5 different countries.
90,000 Items Sold
RelocationKameratori will move into a new larger 517sq meter facility, still in the city center.
In high school, Juho Leppänen began buying, collecting, and selling camera gear to earn some extra money and expand his arsenal of gear. In 2010, he moved to Tampere, Finland with his future wife.
It was then that Juho had a decision to make. He could resume his studies, stay as a photographer, or try to buy and sell cameras full-time. It was this decision that led to the founding of Kameratori in 2010.
Juho reached out to his friend Jussi Lehmus, a business administration student, about helping find new gear to buy. Jussi quickly became an indispensable partner, calling old photography studios and seeing if they had any gear they’d want to sell.
After a year of buying and selling gear like this, Antti Heikkinen joined the team to ensure the quality of the products. A nature photographer originally, Antti has a dedication to the circular economy that ensures all products leaving Kameratori are guaranteed to be in good condition. Most even have a few years added to their lifespan while in the rescue center.
Global Film Interest Grows
The group continued, adding about one employee per year, until 2016 when Juho left the team to found CameraVentures. This company’s mission was to assess the global film community and unite them through a common digital platform.
This included the 2017 Save Analog Cameras campaign, in which 7,500 photographers worldwide filled out a questionnaire about their film usage. This survey identified repair technicians, vintage camera stores, film labs, and other analog hot spots and put them on a single map that people can browse to find the analog community in their area.
After all this data collection, the team identified rescuing cameras as a straightforward solution to some of the issues plaguing the community, and it seemed no one was focusing on it in Europe. Simply put, most of the cameras produced in the past weren’t in the circular analog economy. Soon, CameraVentures became Camera Rescue and refocused on finding and buying lots of cameras, spare parts and repair equipment.
Camera Repair Becomes Essential
During this time, Kameratori was not idle. They added Cameramakers, a group of service technicians with over 100 years of experience between them, to the office. This mechanical service and expertise further guaranteed the quality of a Kameratori product.
Kamerastore Team Grows
Kameratori grew as well, adding employees and expanding their influence in the analog community. There is now a dedicated team for checking and cleaning cameras, a team for product photography and customer service, a marketing team, a shipping team, and a repair team.
The checking team is particularly impactful in the way Kameratori operates these days. The intensive checking process each camera and lens is put through far exceeds the norm in the photographic industry.
The checking team goes beyond “Good enough” or “Excellent +++++” to provide detailed, accurate descriptions of each item for both sales and repair teams. This involves putting each piece of gear under a microscope, testing it with a number of calibrated machines, and running through a long checklist of criteria.
Greater International Reach & Networking
Because of the global nature of the film camera market, in 2018 Kameratori added Kamerastore as an anglicized name.
With these pieces in place, the process is simple. Camera Rescue finds the cameras, Cameramakers repairs them, and Kamerastore finds them new homes.
Since 2017, Kamerastore has had to find two increasingly-large offices to contain its growth.
The Kamerastore team has been all around Europe before 2020, promoting our message and buying/selling cameras. The team has grown internationally and now has representatives from all over the world, both in Tampere and in their home countries.
Kamerastore also has formed professional relationships with other camera retailers around the world, such as National Photo in Paris, France and CATLabs in Boston, US. The store has also done gear exchange programs with Olympus in five different countries.
Thank you for coming along on this Kamerastore journey. Hopefully the next ten years are filled with as many good memories as the previous ten.
To celebrate our TEN year anniversary, we will be having TEN days of sales from December 10th to the 20th of December.
2021 & Beyond
In early 2021 we will move into yet again a new premises, but this time there should be enough room for growth within the building in the coming years. While big and nice new buildings are cool, it is good to remember (for us too!) that the constant change of premises is just a mere reflection of what is going on with the team. We have grown from a solo-eBayer in a living room, to a group of over 20 fulltime professionals working on perfecting their skills to ensure film cameras have a future in the decades to come. The key has been co-operation between people and companies with different kinds of expertise and backgrounds, with hundreds of years of repair knowhow merging into the new generation.
The decade behind has sure been exciting, but we hope the decade ahead will be even more so. In the first months of 2021 we will release news of our future plans, vacant job and trainee positions and some new tools to solve global issues the film photography community is facing, so stay tuned in our different channels:
YouTube, Instagram, Newsletter, Facebook
Fore a more daily view, you might also might want to check out the Camera Rescue channels: