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Last Stop: Finishing Counter

Check out Imaging Business' latest roundup of the newest innovations in the counter-finishing sector.

Stop off at the supermarket on your way home from work for that gallon of milk, and you'll often find you can't resist picking up a pack of batteries, an extra Chapstick or a tabloid magazine at the checkout counter. If you've ever wondered why you always end up with all those these extra items in your grocery bags when you get home, there's a reason: managers understand the consumer psychology that's behind impulse shopping and line the checkout counters accordingly with novelty items to supplement your main purchases.

Photo labs are no different. Head over there to pick up your photo CD or prints and you're sure to be welcomed by a barrage of photo paraphernalia, from refrigerator photo magnets and CD holders to unusual albums and frames. The major manufacturers of these specialty products continue to come up with innovative solutions for storing and displaying photographic memories, giving consumers added value and labs additional profit. Read on for Imaging Business' roundup of the counter-finishing commodities set to make consumers pony up extra cash for in 2005. You might even find a photo treat for Fido in the mix….

BallStars Pro Automatic System is a comprehensive professional package that includes everything retailers need to start personalizing sports balls with customer photos and logos.

Making Their Grand Countertop Entrance…

Noteworthy ( has relied on its customers to stay on top of today's consumer needs. "The products [we're releasing or have in our lineup] are ones we've had requests for, so we're basically responding to those customer requests," states Larry Rallo, Noteworthy's vice president of sales and marketing. One of these in-demand products is the company's new white-paper CD holder with cellophane window. "We just added the capability to be able to make those. What stands out about our version is that labs can get their company information printed on them on the reverse side of the window, in quantities as low as 1,000."

At PMA 2005, the company is also introducing paper enlargement/portrait envelopes with cellophane windows die-cut in unconventional and eye-catching shapes. Designed to match their existing line of poly-portrait protectors, these new envelopes further expand the availability of matching packaging in the Noteworthy line of products. "We've just added these to our line as well, and what we did is make the cellophane window in different shapes, not just the traditional rectangular shape," says Rallo. "We have a star shape, a design that has computers on it, and a stars-and-stripes design with a uniquely shaped window. Those can also have the customer imprint in low minimums as well."

The company's focus in coming up with new products is to keep them integrated with their existing line to present a unified image that builds brand identity. "Labs can totally customize our packaging or they can use our standard design, but we always encourage them to put their name on it," says Rallo. "Let's say they're using customized CDs, where the CDs are printed with all their information. For that, we have clear plastic CD packaging we introduced last year, and that way there's no printing on the packaging and it's just what's on their CD that shows through."

Mackay Photopak's Kiosk Pak, measures 4 1/4 x 7 with side gussets, and has a flap with a resealable latex patch. Noteworthy's new white-paper CD holder with cellophane window.

Noteworthy is keeping its eye on the trends that are emerging in an increasingly digital world. "People are asking for packaging that can hold numerous prints, because people with digital cameras often have a lot of prints made at once," says Rallo. "They're looking for something that's really expandable. Packaging is becoming more and more digitally oriented, and we're still getting mixed messages about whether people are going more to retail for prints or not. But we're still continuously building the digital side of our packaging lineup—that's why we made sure we added something new for CD packaging."

Self-Service Photo Kiosks are springing up everywhere. To that end, Mackay Photopak ( at PMA 2005 has designed a new stock product to satisfy this growing need, giving consumers a protective envelope to package their digital prints. The Product known as a Kiosk Pak measures 4 1/4 x 7 with side gussets, and has a flap with a resealable latex patch. The Kiosk Pak ships 1000 per box with one colorful refillable display dispenser that holds approximately 200 Paks. In addition, Mackay will be showing a complete line of CD/DVD Holders. Mackay's CD/DVD packaging is now available in 4 different formats: a hardboard open-end sleeve, a paper version with a large imprintable cover flap, a paper windowed sleeve with flap, and introducing a new, upscale coated paper stock version with large cover flap featuring the new "Digital Photos" design. These products have matching graphics with many of Mackay's popular stock items or can be ordered custom with your lab or studio's own logos and colors.

Over at Collector's Gallery (, customer demand is also a driving force behind new product introductions or revamps. "A couple of years ago, we came out with an item called an event folder, which is very similar to a portrait folder," says national sales manager Pam Brock. "It's a card-stock material, more of a disposable-type item. We started putting some special occasion imprints on those, and customers just went crazy for them this past holiday season. So what we're doing is coming out with a celebration and a golf event folder this year, as well as trying to come up with some other new ideas."

The company's trademark portrait folders have also seen increasing sales as of late, and Collector's Gallery is able to provide even more added value to the retailers by custom-branding the folders. "One of the things we offer is in-house imprinting," says Brock. "One of the things I like to stress to our dealers is if they have the portrait folders in their store, especially if they have a portrait studio, what great PR it is for them. The dealer can take our folders, imprint their studio name on them, and then when they return the photos to their customers, the studio name is on there. Customers then send the portrait folders out to friends and relatives, and the dealer's name is on there. It's very low cost to them to have the imprinting done, and its great advertising for them."

Thanks to the hot new scrapbooking trend and customers' increasing reliance on photo cards to keep in touch with loved ones, Collector's Gallery's POP sales should continue to flourish. "Using our cards to send them off to friends and relatives has always been a great vehicle for our products," says Brock.

PhotoTidings ( is introducing its new collection of Regional Slimline Templates at this year's PMA convention, designed for creation of 4 x 8 postcard-like cards to send to family and friends. Each unique template features a different photographic landscape background that represents regions of the United States, as well as space for adding personalized messages. The company is also debuting a new selection of templates for printing magazine covers, All-Occasion Slimline Border Cards (which hold multiple images), and commemorative certificates. All templates are available as Photoshop files, and most designs are also made as dedicated files for use on most digital printers. To help businesses promote these counter items, PhotoTidings provides free promotional prints with template packages.

Even More Photo Novelties

People have been taping photos to refrigerators and file cabinets for years, but Howard Packaging's Freez-A-Frame ( facilitates the kitchen photo-gallery process. These thin, magnetic photo frames are lightweight and hold securely to most metal surfaces. Frames are available in five popular sizes (2-1/2 x 3-1/2, 3-1/2 x 5, 4 x 6, 5 x 7, and 8-1/2 x 11) and come in a variety of designs, including love, pets, and sports themes.

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