A classic mid-century neon, our Jack’s Camera Shop sign hails from Muncie, Indiana. A fixture on its downtown storefront throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s, it was then relegated to the basement for more than 40 years.
Founded by Jack Walters in 1948 at 122 W. Charles Street in downtown Muncie, Jack’s Camera Shop served the specialized needs of amateur and professional photographers in Muncie and throughout the Midwest for more than 70 years.
Mike Powell, Jack’s second owner, joined the store part-time in 1964 and full-time in 1972 just before Mr. Walters’ untimely passing. In 1973, Mike and Sherry Powell purchased Jack’s Camera and retained ownership until it closed in 2020. In 1978, Mike and Sherry moved the shop to the Commercial Club building, built in 1906 and located at 300 E Main Street, still in downtown Muncie.
The Powell’s focus on the professional photographer went beyond selling cameras and equipment–they were educators interested in the success of their customers. They regularly attended photography workshops and hosted shows and lectures by well-known photographers, many sponsored by Canon, including LUMI’s own Nick Vedros. Sherry founded the not-for-profit 308 Gallery for which Jack provided the gallery space.
Photography enthusiasts may recognize the names of other famous guests, including Mary Ellen Mark, Lauren Greenfield, Jack Spencer, Sam Abell, Joyce Wilson, Eric Poppleton, Bruce Dorn, Dan Burkholder, Jill Skupin Burkholder, Ronn Brown, Ken Heinen, Hugh Syme, and Kansas City’s Ron Berg.
Comedian entertainer and artist, Red Skelton, as well as Garfield cartoonist and Indiana native son Jim Davis, also visited Jack’s.
Jack’s Camera Shop was the rare photography business that processed film well into the digital age, but eventually, the in-person storefront succumbed to the emergence of digital photography, the Internet, camera phones and direct camera sales by manufacturers—and finally in 2020, COVID-19.
Perhaps the greatest legacy of Jack’s Camera Shop was the tenure of its employee/friends. Of the seven working when the shop closed, three had 40-plus years at the store, two had more than 30 years, and two had 20 years.
The Jack’s Camera Shop neon is a very special addition to LUMI, a museum founded by a professional photographer with his rescue of the Crick’s Camera Shop neon.
Historical content provided by Sherry Powell. Other resources include Corey Ohlenkamp of the Muncie Star Press, 2020, jackscameraused.com and Facebook.