MOVING ON: Wades World owner Wade Kelleher is moving his store to Coolangatta.
MOVING ON: Wades World owner Wade Kelleher is moving his store to Coolangatta. Scott Powick

Iconic photo shop's move to Coolangatta no 'snap' decision

IT'S been a photographers' paradise in the Tweed for years, but Wades World Photographic store is now on the move.

After 24 years, owner and photography guru Wade Kelleher has decided to shut the doors on his Tweed store and open north of the border on Griffith St, Coolangatta, next week.

"Coolangatta is starting to happen and this area of Tweed is not happening like it used to,” Mr Kelleher said.

"We can see a big rise in passing trade which is going to be beneficial to Tweed.

"We're not really changing much, we're just going around the corner.”

Mr Kelleher said he'd seen many changes in the area from the window of his Wharf St store and believed now was the time to make a change.

"The other thing that we've always battled with is people and tourists who come to Coolangatta very rarely find us,” he said.

Wade Kelleher has spent 24 years delivering quality service in Tweed Heads.
Wade Kelleher has spent 24 years delivering quality service in Tweed Heads. Scott Powick

"I think Tweed Heads is starting to get a little bit of soul back over the last three years in Bay St, but that hasn't carried across to Tweed Mall. What Tweed Mall used to be has moved to Tweed City.

"We've got a great catch pool of loyal customers from Coffs Harbour to the Sunshine Coast who we deal with regularly, so it's not about exposure of our business.”

While the industry has had many changes through the years, the introduction of digital cameras was a real turning point for MrKelleher's business.

"Digital cameras were just taking off when we took over the store,” he said.

"Consumer knowledge was nothing because it was a whole new world and entity people had to get a grip of.

"The big attraction originally with digital cameras, and still is, is the instant gratification of having a photograph.

"The downside of that is that it has devalued what a photograph is and the whole premise of this business is that what we do here is quality.

"We could have invested a whole lot less in the equipment that we've got here and bought digital equipment that doesn't do a good job, but I know the difference.

"Now 20 years later, we have issues where people come in with images from the early digital days looking for a copy of it to use and you can't do it because the quality is so terrible. But if they'd paid a few extra cents and put it onto proper photographic paper, they could have still used it.

"The sad thing is the dummying down of the industry. What we want to do is preserve a memory, because the photos are memories. We've had customers who have had their houses burnt down and they had film in here, so now it's the only photos they have left. It's that special memory you can't beat."

Wade Kelleher checks a roll of film.
Wade Kelleher checks a roll of film. Scott Powick

Looking towards the future, Mr Kelleher said the photographic industry would remain strong as long as people were interested in preserving memories.

"Film is making a huge comeback," he said.

"Film sales are going year on year 50per cent growth in Australia. There's not that many industries that have that growth.

"I think that our industry is very much like any of those retro industries. There's always going to be niches for something that is quality, no matter what industry it is. Whether it's vinyl or photography or it's electronics, there's always going to be people who provide a quality product.

"We'll be digging up some dust this weekend. It's sad in a way, but I've seen many changes here over the years.”



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