Calumet Photographics' main focuslike much of the photo industry these daysis digital. To better showcase their devotion to cutting-edge digital imaging technology, Calumet recently unveiled a unique new design and layout for their retail stores, beginning with the main Chicago location. So far, only the largest Calumet stores have been redone, including the Los Angeles, New York City and San Fransisco locations. Eventually though, all eight stores will get digital-friendly makeovers.
PTN recently paid a visit to Calumet's New York store to get a look at the new layout. As customers enter the store, they are surrounded by digital equipment: cameras, accessories, lighting, scanners and printers. More traditional photographic and wet darkroom supplies and equipment are positioned towards the rear of the retail space.
Because of this design, customerswhether they have gone digital or notmust walk through the digital product displays to reach the film area.
One of the most unique new features of the store's layout is that all of the display modules are on wheels, allowing them to be repositioned at any time by staff. The new rollable display fixtures make them ideal for demo days because featured products can be easily wheeled to a more prominent position in the store to make them more visible and accessible. If a large group of people attend a demo day, other displays can easily and quickly be moved out of the way to make more room for attendees.
According to Irwin Miller, a digital imaging specialist at Calumet, the new physical space has given the staff a renewed enthusiasm.
Miller notes that a positive benefit of this is that there is little turnover of employees. And the Calumet family extends beyond the staff to customers, he adds, many of whom drop by on an almost daily basis to pick up film or other supplies; or just to check up on the latest developments in digital imaging.
In 1980, the company became a full-line supplier of professional photographic products. The mid-nineties brought a merger between Calumet Photographic in the U.S.A. and KJP in Europe, extending the company's reach across the Atlantic Ocean.
Calumet's reach extended further in the late '90s with the launch of an e-commerce website at www.calumetphoto.com. Today, Calumet has 30 retail locations around the world, with eight of them in the U.S., in addition to phone, mail and Internet ordering capabilities.
"Every staff member goes to Chicago for training on digital, regardless of their area of sales," Miller explains. "It's very important for Calumet's customers to be able to approach any employee and ask questions regarding digital."
Employees can get instruction in as much of digital imaging as they desire. From simple vocabulary, to color management, employees are encouraged to broaden their photographic horizons.
Calumet also encourages its employees to "climb the ladder" moving up as far as their ambition propels them.
"Calumet has always been an advocate for investing in their employees," notes Laura Lange, store manager of the New York location. "I am one example of how the company has allowed an employee to grow. I started in the Bensenville store, in rentals, and with encouragement and training, I have worked in five different stores in three different markets, managing three of these facilities. All of this done with the continued unconditional support of the company."
Digital Imaging Experts
Although the typical Calumet customer is a professional photographer, they carry a wide variety of consumer-level, middle and high-end products. Not every photographer needs the best or most expensive equipment and Miller stresses that Calumet sells customers only what they need to get the job done. If they don't need all the bells and whistles, they aren't pressured into buying it.
"Calumet helps the professional photographer by listening to customers' needs," Miller explains. "With digital, many photographers are apprehensive about going digital." Calumet staff don't push entire systems when customer's budgets allow for only smaller purchases.