Essex Camera Shop
Essex Camera Shop was started by Don Hayes in 1946 who sold it to Joe Vaiche two years later. Peter Zaharis bought it from Vaiche in 1980 and ran this popular full service camera store until his retirement in 2001. Zaharis had previously worked in the photo department on the Salem News before buying the store. His store came to be known as a specialty shop for serious photographers.
Essex Camera Shop attracted photographers, retirees and others who came by to get advice from Zaharis. He also welcomed dogs and was know to have bones for them. Many regulars stopped in just to talk and hang out.
Zaharis was born and raised in Stamford, Conn., graduated from the State University of New York, and married Pat Markos in 1946 after a two-month courtship. In 1949, the couple moved back to Pat's native Ipswich where Zaharis opened a photo business. The personable cameraman quickly became the photographer of choice for many local families and organizations.
In 1962, Zaharis was hired by the then Salem Evening News as the head of its photo department and moved to Salem where he and Pat would raise two daughters. Eighteen years later, at the age of 62, Zaharis purchased the Essex Camera Shop in the Salem YMCA building from Joe Vaiche. The deal between these two true gentlemen was consummated with a handshake and a passing of the keys to the store.
"Zaharis' retirement and his passing in September 2007 at the age of 89 marked the end of a gentler time when friendly, small-shop owners were the rule rather than the exception, and friendship was an important part of doing business" according to Jim McAllister in his news article.
"Peter Zaharis: Legendary shop owner retires" Salem Evening News, June 1, 2001, p. A3