Courting the Future
At a time when some independent photo retailers are frightened by the digital future, Maine Coast Photo has embraced it. When a customer buys a digital camera there, a salesperson helps him or her take a photo with it. Then they immediately pull out the memory card and have a print made on the Noritsu lab, demonstrating how quick and easy it is, and the quality the lab produces. The customer is also encouraged to go home and print the same image there, and compare the two.
"The comparison is what sells them on coming back to us for prints in the future," says McManus. "The human eye is a terrible evaluator, but a great comparator. When a customer sees the store print and the homemade print side by side, there's no question we produce superior quality." The strategy must work; the store has a growing digital print business despite charging nearly three times what mass market retailers are charging.
Every day brings a new surprise. Just recently, McManus says, a brand new customer walked in with a digital memory card of 500 images, and ordered prints of every one. "The family got a digital camera for Christmas and never got around to printing all those pictures," he explains. "So now we're heroes because we can do it and save them all that trouble."
Camera storeowners rarely get to be heroes anymore. But it's a nice bonus when it happens. "We try to give people what they want, and sell them what they need," McManus says. "As long as we do that, the future will take care of itself."
Are planning to turn your store into a digital café? Let us know at email@example.com.
IMAGER SNAPSHOTMaine Coast Photo & Digital TYPE OF LAB: Camera store with minilab servicing professionals, advanced amateurs and consumers CUSTOMER BASE: Amateurs, advanced amateurs and professionals. ADVERTISING: Through newspaper advertising, window signs and television. SPECIAL NICHES THEY FILL: Having digital print café and photoshop expertise. Prints from slides, matching prints for color and density, online digital printing can be picked up at retail, processing black-and-white, E6 processing. WHICH ASPECTS OF DIGITAL WORK FOR THEM: Printing at retail from any type of digital media, scanning to CD, online photofinishing through the Internet. PERCENTAGE OF DIGITAL IMAGES TO FILM PROCESSED: 70% film, 30% digital. Their digital business has more than doubled compared to last year. DO YOU SELL MEDIA CARDS?: Yes, CompactFlash, XD, SD cards, multimedia cards, Memory Stick cards EQUIPMENT LIST: (total of equipment in four Maine Coast Photo & Digital locations)
- Digital Minilab: 1 Noritsu 3011DLS, 2 Noritsu 2901, 1 Noritsu 2301 with HRTRC
- Kiosk: 4 Kodak Picture Makers, 2 Kodak Picture Preview Centers with Preview & Select software, 2 Noritsu CT-1s
- Wide-Format Printer: 2 Encad 60-inch inkjet printers
- Online Photofinishing Service: LifePics
- POS Computer System: Computyme
- Packaging products they use: Mackay Photopak and Noteworthy; Crown sleeving