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Beach Photo Franchise Fighting For Survival

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Proponents of an aerial tram above the Ocean City Boardwalk are no longer pushing the idea after meeting with city officials.
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Proponents of an aerial tram above the Ocean City Boardwalk are no longer pushing the idea after meeting with city officials.

For decades, young college kids in blue swim shorts have run up and down the beach in Ocean City, Md., snapping portraits of families and putting them into a three-inch plastic key chains called scopes.

Yet, the scoping business is in jeopardy, as technological advances have crushed profits and essentially destroyed much of the customer base.

"The bottom line is: you need the demand and we don't have the demand like we used to. The value of a picture has dropped," says Patrick McLaughlin, owner of Telescope Pictures, who has paid the town more than $2.8 million in the last four years for the right to make the memory holders.

The city council granted McLaughlin's plea for help by cutting the starting bid price in half to just $150,000, but McLaughlin will now have to enter into an open bid process against other competitors in December.

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