Helix Camera and Video Retailer Announces New Ownership and Location
Itasca, IL – After 50 years of business, Helix Camera and Video is entering a new era as a leading photographic retailer in the Chicagoland area. The company was recently purchased by photo industry veteran Valerie Maros and moved to a newly renovated retail storefront at 100 N. Walnut Street in Itasca, Illinois.
“We are proud to carry on Helix’s long legacy of providing quality products and exceptional customer service that Chicago-area customers have come to expect,” said Maros, owner and president of Helix. “Our new location caters to the demanding needs of professional photographers as well as those who are passionate about photography as a hobby.”
According Helix founder Paul Schutt, the company that he built is in good hands with the new ownership. “I’m excited about the new opportunities ahead for Helix,” he explained. “Val found a really neat location that can bring back the education end that we helped pioneer in our early days. The nearby park is perfect for telescope star parties and photo walks.”
The new two-story retail location is located in Itasca’s former Village Hall building, across from the Metra train station. The first floor is dedicated to showcasing cameras, lenses, lighting, accessories and supplies from major manufacturers including Nikon, Canon, Leica, Panasonic, Tamron, Manfrotto, Profoto, PocketWizard, Hoya, Tenba, Meade, Ikelite and more.
“The support and encouragement from our vendors has been overwhelming,” according to Michael Delaney, Operations manager. “In addition to the wide range of gear that will be in our store, we will be adding lots of products online at helixcamera.com. And we will also stay true to Helix’s reputation of being the leading resource for underwater photography gear and telescopes.”
The second floor of Helix’s new location offers a spacious 1500-square-foot event space that will be available for photography classes, workshops, new product demonstrations, vendor events and local camera club meetings. “You really couldn’t ask for a better location for hands-on photography classes,” explained Maros. “We have a nature center, historic church, park, gazebo, swan pond, train station and even a wine shop, all within walking distance from our store. All offer the perfect backdrop for learning.”
The event space will also double as a photo studio available to rent. Equipment such as cameras, lenses and lighting will also be available to rent on a daily or weekly basis, offering photographers an affordable option to try new gear or have a back-up on assignment.
The original Helix camera was started in 1963 by Schutt in his fraternity house at the University of Chicago. Over the past 50 years, the business had 14 different locations, the most recent being 310 S. Racine Avenue in Chicago. In 2013, Helix sold that building to a public storage center and revamped its business model to focus on serving local and international customers through its website helixcamera.com. In 2015, Schutt decided to officially retire at the age of 78 and sell his business to Maros.
“With a long history of operational experience in the photographic industry, Val is probably one of the most knowledgeable people in the retail distribution side of the business,” says Schutt.
For over 25 years, Maros has served the photo industry by building strong vendor relationships to deliver the best products and service to the photographic community. She was instrumental in expanding Calumet Photographic from a primarily mail-order business with three locations into an international retailer with over 20 stores around the globe. After her success with Calumet, she focused on operations and business development for other photo-related companies.
“Our focus is to bring a new energy and level of expertise to the local photo community as well as online customers,” says Maros. “These are very exciting times for Helix!”