Sears Portrait Studios close without warning to workers, customers

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It’s a disappointing discovery for workers at several photography studios around the islands. The studios shut down on Thursday and most of the workers just found out about it the night before.

Sears Portrait Studio at Ala Moana Center is dark and blocked off, marked by yellow caution tape. That goes the same for the portrait studios at Pearlridge and Windward Mall.

Workers suspected something was going on when they heard the mainland stores were closing down. So the manager of the Pearlridge store contacted her district manager Wednesday night.

Former Pearlridge Sears Portrait Manager January Ioane: “I had to contact her through text.”

Manolo Morales: “And she said?”

Former Pearlridge Sears Portrait Manager January Ioane: “Tell everybody not to go in.”

Ioane wound up calling about 20 employees Wednesday night that worked in the Oahu stores, rather than having them find out when they showed up for work.

“It frustrates me that they didn’t even give the initiative to any of the employees down here, nothing, no letters. I mean they had a letter off the internet from our CEO, that’s it,” Ioane said.

“At least have the decency or courtesy to call us and let us know there’s a closing date instead of just everything hush hush kind of everything under the carpet,” former Sears Portrait Studio Ala Moana manager Lusia Tupou said.

Workers say it has nothing to do with the Sears Ala Moana Store closing down.

The portrait studios are owned by a company called CPI Corporation, based in St. Louis, Missouri. It also owns studios at Walmart, which goes by the name Picture Me Studios, and they also shut down across the country.

The company released a statement on its website saying, “We are sad to announce that all of our U.S. portrait studios are now closed… We are attempting to fulfill as many customer orders as possible.”

“There are like tons of customers waiting for their pictures, actually some pictures customers haven’t received since Christmas,” Tupou said.

The company says anyone waiting for their pictures should contact customer service at the department store.

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