Magazine Article


Updating or Renovating Your Retail Store?
A makeover can make a world of difference in how customers perceive your lab or store, as well as allow you to add new services and product lines. Change is good. It keeps you relevant and in the know, which translates into more sales. Here's what some of our readers are doing...

a. The timing of this question couldn't be better! As we speak, we're in the process of reworking a large section of our entry and lobby to introduce "designer photo-gifting" to our Fullerton Photographics customers. Following PMA '08, I decided it was time to get involved in gifting in a big way. We've purchased very clean, modern-looking display shelving and will introduce and display our new gifting products by category. Next to exceptional service, I don't think there's anything that can influence how you're perceived by your customers more than the way your store looks and feels.

Gabrielle Mullinax, president
Fullerton Photographics, Inc.
Fullerton, CA

a.We began to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. We looked at the lab services side and the retail portion of our small business to determine the best plan for a new facility. What we found was a growing need for the types of services we offered in the traditional photo lab or small service bureau-type operation. So we planned and built a lab facility that would also serve as a workshop facility for teaching photographic processes, general photography, and sponsoring a medium-and large-format photography group.

We have a 48'x60' hurricane-rated steel building with extra layers of insulation, a tall roof line with ventilation, and three HVAC units serving three different areas for zone temperature control.

The traditional labs (B&W, E-6/Cibachrome, film-processing labs) and the restoration/archiving labs stay at 69, 24/7. The mezzanine area where the matting, studio, and photo supplies are located remains a constant 70. The front side of the building houses the entrance/ gallery, the library/conference room, the office, a full kitchen, a restroom, and a digital lab, all of which remain at 71-72. The utilities are all buried and there's a 30kW generator to assure we won't be down for the long term. If necessary, this building could serve the surrounding area (we moved to the country) as a place for support in case of another emergency like we faced after Katrina.

We installed ventilation fans, and we de-silver and neutralize all solutions before disposal; we're as environmentally friendly as we've always been, while keeping costs down due to efficient planning and building materials.

We've worked on everything from tintypes to modern emulsions for our clients. We use both digital and traditional methods to restore and rescue photographs, negatives, and slides. We scan at 1000 dpi to 4800 dpi (depending upon the size of the original), correct or repair it via computer software, then expose it back to B&W or color slide films (35mm, 120mm, or 4x5). These are then printed to the traditional papers/media for the client. They may also get an archival pigment print on various types of archival fine-art or photographic digital papers.

We have two B&W Omega 4x5s with ProLab condensers, a DeVere 5108 with a color head, an Omega D5500 Super Chromega, and a Beseler 23CIII-XL dichroic enlarger. There is a 24x36 UV vacuum contact printing unit for the alternative and historic processes in the restoration lab.

We still print and process by hand and use equipment to expedite the processes and keep times/temperatures consistent. With more and more neighborhood (local) labs "going digital" and online services growing, we've had more and more people who don't even own a computer wanting our services and friendly Southern attitudes toward customer service. We've always put the client first; we pay attention and try to educate them in their choices. We value high quality in our work and business operations. This has been the driving force that has kept us afloat during this rebuilding effort. After 22 months, it's almost like starting over, but we're seeing growth each week in the number and types of calls or emails we receive. We, like many other Mississippians, will not only survive-we plan to thrive.

Kim R. Du Boise, president
PhotoArts Imaging Professionals, LLC
and owner/artist, PhotoArts Studio
Hattiesburg, MS

a. We are relocating our business in May and are completely redoing our merchandising fixtures. We are also upgrading all of our kiosks at the same time.

Andy Tabor, president
Focused on You
Scarborough, ME

a. We are constantly making over our business. Almost every month, we add a service, change a floor layout, or change our website. But it is evolution, not revolution-the need for change is constant, but our customers want continuity. We are continuously making adjustments and improvements to the overall look of our store, but we have not made any complete changes to the space.

Ray Kersting, sales manager
Schiller's Imaging Group
St. Louis, MO