Beltsville, MD—Edward C. Ritz, a photo specialty retail pioneer and a cofounder of Ritz Camera, died on March 30. Family-owned Ritz Camera Centers (the predecessor to Ritz Camera & Image) was founded as a portrait studio in 1918 by Benjamin Ritz, in the Ritz Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 1936, Edward Ritz and his brother Benjamin expanded the company and opened the first Ritz film-processing lab in Washington, D.C.—introducing a concept that had plenty of growth potential.
Ritz Camera was the first chain photofinisher to offer 4×6 prints from 35mm film, as well as free bordered prints as standard. As Ritz Camera Centers expanded from that one location in Atlantic City, the firm reached out to nearby states, particularly Maryland, where a flagship Baltimore store was added in the 1930s. As stores were added, so were services and retail goods. Not just a place to have a photo taken or have a photo developed, the stores became one-stop shops for all photographic needs. Today Ritz Camera is the nation’s largest photo-specialty chain with more than 1,000 stores. The stores are located in 47 states and the District of Columbia, and the company is headed by Edward’s son, David Ritz.
In addition to his retail prowess, Edward Ritz served the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) as president from 1973–1974, chaired the convention committee for many years, and was vice president of PMA Services. He was elected into the PMA Hall of Fame in 1984.
Edward Ritz is survived by his wife, Irene K. Ritz; son, David M. Ritz, and daughter, Linda Ritz Dolphin. He is also survived by five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.