Magazine Article


The Reinvention of Reimers

The Reinvention of Reimers

Milwaukee Photo Store Transforms Itself Into Pro Digital Outlet After 124 Years in the Business

by Alice B. Miller

Reimers' Jim Kile in his new office in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Reimers' new warehouse.
On Friday, May 31, the doors closed on Reimers Photo Materials, a 124-year-old, family-run photo retailer in Milwaukee, WI. On Monday, June 3, Jim Kile had his new team in place—tech pros, sales go-getters, and support staff—at the new Reimers Inc. offices in Menomonee Falls, WI.
PTN recently spoke with Kile about his new business venture, exploring his vision for the new company and his plans for offering high-end digital imaging solutions to the area's professional photographers. Parts of that interview follow:

PTN: What is your vision for the new store?
As our tagline suggests, professional imaging solutions are our focus. We don't have a store front; we're a business-to-business sales operation focused almost exclusively on pro products. Our new facility is extensive, with a large demonstration area, warehousing, and business offices.
If you annualize what we've been doing the past few months we're running about $2.5 million in sales. Our three-year goal is to build a $7 million dealership by selling and promoting professional imaging products and services to commercial photo finishers and photo studios.
We're the midwest distributor for Konica Photo Imaging U.S.A., from color paper products to their high-end digital photo minilab systems. We have the Imacon product line of scanners and camera backs.
We carry the Phase One product line, including the H5, H10, H20. We carry the Epson 10000, 9600, and 7600 inkjet printers and media, HP 5500 inkjet and media, along with Konica, Océ, and Proofline inkjet media.

PTN: How does Reimers Inc. compare or contrast with the earlier retail store?
Basically, the old Reimers was more walk-in oriented, which in the current retail digital market was really unprofitable. We were known more as a mid-range digital store with low-margin, low-profit products. We just couldn't get away from selling. Even though most of our employees were with the old operation, we're a whole new company today, focusing on high-end solutions with value-added services.

PTN: What sets you apart in the photo retail arena?
Our expertise with the equipment and color management, as well as our customer service approach. If we do some hand-holding with new digital imaging equipment owners and they become very familiar with what we've sold them and how it works, they know we'll take good care of them the second, third, and fourth times as well.
For instance, when we sell input or output devices, or a combination, we make sure they're all color adjusted. If you want to buy the software and hardware to create your own profiles, we'll sell it to you. Or if you just want us to color manage the devices, we'll do that. We have GretagMacbeth, Xrite, and Spectrolina profiling equipment and Kodak Colorflow software.
Typically, we'll send out a mailing, say, for the Imacon product line, in the southern Wisconson/northern Illinois market, offering prospective customers a free product demo in their studio with their choice of camera and scanner or camera back. We bring the equipment, a computer, and let them test the equipment and get a feeling for how in-depth the color profiling will be. These demos give them an idea of who we are and what we do, create more relationship selling not just "here's the product and here's our best price."

PTN: Do you plan to launch a website?
Yes, in about four months we'll introduce a site where customers can access their customer numbers, order consumables, see their order history, and download software upgrades. We won't accept orders for high-end products, of course, since that wouldn't work.

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