Mar 12, 2010 8:52 PM by Katie Stukey/KRTV

Great Falls fixture Photo Plus prepares to close

Central Avenue will bid farewell to a downtown business this weekend, as Photo Plus prepares to close its doors.

But as John and Susan Godwin, the owners of Photo Plus, found out this week, their departure from the professional photography world has impacted much more than Central Avenue - it's opened the flood gates of support from an entire community.

From film into the digital world, the Godwins have experienced big change in the more than 25 years since they opened Photo Plus.

John noted, "The last peak year for film was 2001." He continued, "Three years ago...I made the decision not to bring film processing cause it'd diminished to the point that I didn't think it was necessary."

But perhaps the biggest change comes this weekend.

John said, "Our kids have both moved away from Great Falls and are pursuing careers, so it's time; if you're going to make a change, it's a good time to do it."

Photo Plus will shut down on Saturday, a move that Godwin thought was merely a business decision - but 25 years worth of customers are now coming forward.

"I was just overwhelmed by cards, letters, people stopping by, phone calls, it's just been amazing," he said.

The outpouring of gratitude has made him sentimental, but he still has weeks worth of work before the reality of saying goodbye sets in.

Godwin said, "Before the end of the month I have to empty this building out...tons of work...so I don't really think it's going to hit me until April 1st, which is an appropriate day to wake up on April Fools day, wondering if I am the April fool or not...but then, I'm just going to take a couple weeks and sit on a mountain and think about life and decide...what direction do I want to do."

Photo Plus prepares to close in Great Falls

Godwin's next career move seems completely up in the air at this point, but one thing is certain: he's not putting down the camera a

ny time soon.

John says he can't imagine starting over outside of Great Falls, but says it will all depend on the economy.

"As far as a career I feel very fulfilled in what I've done, and whatever I do next, I want that even more, so that you feel like you're having a direct impact on making things better," he concluded.

Beyond John and Susan, the closing of Photo Plus leaves two other people out of work.