Magazine Article


Mike's Camera Leverages Size, Inviting Store Design to Dominate Denver Market

Mike's Camera has a long history in Boulder, where the first store was founded more than 35 years ago. In 1980 that location was purchased by Kaloust Christianian, a businessman and photo hobbyist who is now semi-retired. Today, Mike's operations are managed by Kaloust's sons Alex and Jirair, vice president for finance and administration. A third brother, Vahe, has worked for Mike's over the years and now is a vice president with the LifePics online photofinishing portal.

If it isn't clear by now, we'll say it: There's one thing you can count on at Mike's, and it's change. The Christianian family is always ready to embrace new technology, new ideas and ways of doing business-as long as they seem to fit the customers' wants and needs.

One case in point is a new product-the tribute DVD. For years, Mike's has offered video duplication and print-to-video transfers. Now, building on its digital expertise, the company will take customer-supplied images and other raw material and create a custom DVD tribute with beautiful music. Typical content might include a wedding, a high school athlete's sports accomplishments.

"There's so much more that can be done with digital images that we haven't even explored," Alex Christianian says. "We're not just in the business of selling cameras or photofinishing today. We're reaching out to do new things all the time, along with our customers. The future has never been so exciting."

Imager Snapshot

Mike's Camera Mike's Camera headquarters located in Boulder, CO.

CUSTOMER BASE: Consumers, prosumers.

What can you offer your customers that no other lab in your area can?
We have a broader mix of services, everything from standard D&P and digital to E6, black and white, and large format, and our quality is second to none.

Are there big mass merchants or drug chains in your area that you compete with? If so, who?
Best Buy, Walgreens, Target, Costco, Sam's.

How do you get your message out to your customers?
Repeat business and word of mouth is the cornerstone of our success, although we're a pretty big advertiser in our market (metro Denver, including Boulder).

Are there any other special niches you fill?
We're the best resource for photography and photography information in the area. If somebody wants to learn about it, get information or study a broad product selection, we're the place to go. We're more of a resource than other stores.

When did you first get into digital?
We had a beta release of Noritsu's QSS-2711DLS digital lab system about six years ago. It was the second or third beta placement in the country.

What equipment did you first purchase?
The Noritsu QSS-2711DLS digital lab system. We are looking to upgrade our digital labs in the next several months.

What aspects work for you?
Digital camera sales are strong, and in the last year, growth of digital printing at retail has been important (and welcome). Online is an important part of our digital printing mix. And new markets-signs, publications, trade show exhibits and other commercial applications.

DIGITAL BUSINESS: Up about 23% over last year.

MEDIA CARD SALES: We sell media cards. 256MB is the most common size we sell.


  • Digital Minilabs: Noritsu QSS-2711DLS in every store
  • Kiosks: Kodak Picture Maker print stations
  • Wide-Format Printers: HP 54- and 48-inch inkjet printers
  • Online Photofinishing Service: LifePics
  • POS Computer System: Photoware
  • Packaging Products: Custom packaging made by Taprell Loomis