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Pa. camera shop becoming flash in retail history

March 06, 1998

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Joseph Werzyn first came to Waynesboro in 1948 as a camera equipment salesman hoping to make a sale at Lohman's Camera Shop on Public Square.

Instead of selling cameras to Wilbur Lohman, the shop's owner, Werzyn snapped up the camera shop.

"I had been on the road for about three years and was looking for a small town to move to. Waynesboro was a beautiful spot. All the stores were open and busy. Everything looked clean and prosperous. It was the envy of surrounding towns and a good place to raise a family," Werzyn said.

Werzyn, 78, was raised in Kingston, Pa. After graduation from high school, he went to work as a technician for Agfa Ansco, a camera equipment and film manufacturer in Binghamton, N.Y. His skills landed him in a Navy technicians' unit that set up anti-aircraft guns on warships during World War II.

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After the war, he returned to the camera industry, first as a technician, then in sales.

Werzyn ran his Town Camera Shop on Public Square until 1956, when he bought the building at 32 W. Main St. and moved it there.

In 1976, Werzyn kept the building, but sold the camera business to his son, William Werzyn, who had worked in the shop since college.

The store will close Saturday. All items inside are on sale, William Werzyn said.

He said he wants to spend more time on his private photography business, which he operates from his home in South Mountain, Pa.

Declining downtown business was also a factor in closing the store, Joseph Werzyn said.

"I was fortunate that I was able to make a living and raise a family from the store, but business downtown has dropped off in the last 10 years. The retail business is not there. I'm amazed that Bill stayed this long," he said.

The retail business is being replaced by service and professional businesses and small specialty shops, he said.

William S. Dick, a Waynesboro attorney with an office on Public Square, said he was sorry to see the Town Camera Shop close after 50 years.

"We bought our last camera there," said Dick, a member of the Main Street Waynesboro promotional group.

Dick said he doesn't think the retail picture is as dreary as Joseph Werzyn paints it.

"We have to be aware of what's going on or it will come true. We can't compete with the malls and it's no longer like it was in 1948. That's why we created the Main Street program."

Joseph Werzyn sold the building to a Smithsburg, Md., businesswoman who will keep the upstairs apartments and turn the main floor into office suites.

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