A business that started out in a Clintonville basement is poised to make the leap to larger space for the third time.

A business that started out in a Clintonville basement is poised to make the leap to larger space for the third time.

Midwest Photo Exchange, which currently has retail space at 3313 N. High St. and its Learning Studio at 3286 N. High St., will combine all its operations into one location at 2887 Silver Drive.

The new location, said Marketing Manager Michelle Dean, will have twice as much classroom space, three times the sales floor and a larger rental department than the current operations.

"Honestly, it's been about five years we've been looking to find a new location that suited us," said owner Moishe Appelbaum.

The one rule for that new site: It had to be in Clintonville, he said last week.

"Moishe is lucky enough or smart enough or in the right place at the right time," said T.J. Hansen, education coordinator for Midwest Photo Exchange. "This is the location of our dreams."

While Hansen said he likes having small classes to teach people how to use the equipment they bought at the store across the street, some events could draw as many as 100 attendees. The current Learning Center, he said, feels pretty crowded with only 30 to 40 people.

Stuart Appelbaum, Moishe's father, bought a camera while he was in college, he said. It turned out to be worth far more than he paid for it, so he sold the camera for a handsome profit. That seemed like a pretty good thing to his dad, Moishe Appelbaum said, so he started what would become Midwest Photo Exchange in the basement of the family's home on West Lakeview Avenue.

The business soon outgrew the basement, and Stuart Appelbaum moved it into the former Clintonville Co-op building, which almost as quickly proved not enough space, the current owner said.

Although some camera businesses have gone by the boards with the widespread prevalence of cellphones that can take pictures and the advent of photo technology, Moishe Appelbaum said Midwest Photo is competing favorably with online sources of equipment but with the addition of customer service, support and training.

The rental side of the operation, for example, or "try before you buy," has grown by 800 percent in the past three years, he said.

"Everyone is a photographer now," Appelbaum said. "When you would think that would be a deficit, it's been a positive."

Midwest Photo has 32 employees, but in anticipation of the new space, more were being hired last week, Appelbaum said.

"The thing for me is, we listened to our customers," he said. "Our customers were the driving force for this move."

Parking and space limitations were the biggest issues with clients, Appelbaum said. The new store will have 60 parking spaces, compared to the current shop's five.

"We've done a really great job of gaining and audience ... but we're not getting them to come to the store a second time," said Ken Lewis, sales and marketing director for Midwest Photo Exchange. "Now we have removed those barriers. We're able to create much of the experience of photography."

CRC Inc. is the contractor on the project to renovate the new space, which will be rented as the current facilities are, Appelbaum said.

Midwest Photo Exchange is scheduled to move into the Silver Drive site in mid-July, Dean said.

Hansen said the first educational event at the new building, a Canon launch party, will take place May 7.