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What's Your Opinion?



PTN has introduced a new section to our monthly line-up called Market Pulse. Each month, PTN will ask photo retailers to give their opinion on industry related issues. Because our readers are imaging professionals, we thought, what better way to give them the most professional and up-to-date information than asking readers themselves how they feel about their industry.

To start off the New Year on a positive footing, our question asks:

Why do you feel it’s such a great time to be in the photo retail/lab industry?

Well, here it is, straight from the grapevine…

Q.Why do you feel it’s such a great time to be in the photo retail/lab industry?

A. It is hard to answer without going to PMA first and seeing what is new. I see that photofinishing is climbing up out of the doldrums and I think kiosks have certainly helped that. I think there are extremely exciting SLR’s that are coming down in price, with good features, some from last year and some new ones. The SLR’s are the products that I think will make this year really resounding. If you look back at the cameras that were available in previous years and the prices they were being offered at, you really get an idea of how advantageous it is to be in photo retail now, and what is in store for us this year. SLR cameras are coming down in price and offering really innovative features.

That’s what is exciting about photography and what gives consumers the capability of taking excellent pictures.

Peter Sandrian
Owner
Sandrian Camera and Imaging
Clinton and Morristown, New Jersey
President, PMA NY/NJ Metro Division

A. Sense of accomplishment.
If you are still here in 2007, you certainly have succeeded in tackling the huge challenges of the past few years. You have handled the unknowns of where your print business will come from. You figured out how to keep your customers and attract new ones. The huge swing in product mix you have handled, and likely won the profit battle to keep margins at a decent level, despite the numerous pressures to drive it into the basement. You survived while those less creative, less energetic, or just less fortunate have decided to move on to other opportunities.

Times are certainly different—the easy days of bunches of customers coming in to drop off a dozen rolls for twin prints is gone. High margins on protected lines such as Ricoh have long disappeared. The folks still engaging in photo retail are successful entrepreneurs who saw the challenges and overcame them. I love the sense of accomplishment as everyone has earned it—there are no weak business people in the photo retail field. I love engaging my fellow industry members at events such as PMA, the PRO convention and even on the BestPhotoList. I admire everyone’s accomplishments and look to glean from them how else Dan’s might continue to be more successful. Too often we focus on what we don’t have—at least for the start of 2007 let’s take a moment and appreciate all we have accomplished.

Mike Woodland
CEO
Dan’s Camera City
Allentown, Pennsylvania

A. This is a great time to be in the photo industry because everything is possible, the potential for business and growth is virtually unlimited, and the challenges have never been greater. Day to day, I get depressed about small aspects of the industry and my business, but each day brings the promise of something new to perk up my interest and give me one more way to spend large chunks of money in pursuit of profits.

Most of all, I enjoy the frustration of dealing with the ‘new customer.’ We all have them, the woman or man who has a digital SLR camera (oooooh!), knows it all, and won’t listen to the sage advice of somebody who has been in photo retail for nearly 40 years. Then I am sure they may wonder why we want to sell them all this ‘unnecessary’ stuff, too. Extra batteries—“yep, it just might go dead on you at an inopportune moment, that’s why you need a spare,” and “it might be a good idea to carry an extra memory card or two, just in case.”

At some point, they might get the idea you are actually trying to work in their best interest, but probably not. Yes, I do love this business; I get at least one laugh from it every day, and my staff does too, as they roll their eyes! What else could you do that is so much FUN?

Roger Christian
Owner
University Camera
Iowa City, Iowa

A. It is an exciting time because of all of the new innovations flooding the industry. Those that are always looking for another way to build their business can really benefit from such innovations. I would say to those who are willing to stay current with technology, and who are creative and open to investing in their business, it can be a very good time. We are succeeding in those areas, but it can take a lot of work.

One of the things that I do on the 1st of every year is to create a plan. I put together a list of the things that I want to accomplish in the year. In my case I am looking at how I can diversify and add a wider product mix. I am also pursuing other product markets as well.

Grant P. Hatch
President
Spectrum 1-HOUR Photo & Camera
A division of L&G Enterprises, Inc.
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire

A. I feel really positive about 2007 being a turnaround year. We were really strong around the last part of 2006, and I see my customers printing more digital. They are more savy and comfortable with digital products. Our online service has more than tripled. I’ve been very happy with that portion of our business, it has been long in coming (I think everyone will agree). It is very encouraging, people walking in with CDs full of 300 plus prints, people are filling up 1GB, 2GB cards. I think it is a good thing.

Renée Crist
Owner
Photo Pro Film & Digital Imaging
Gig Harbor, Washington

A. For the first time in years, the photo imaging industry is posed to celebrate explosive growth in 2007. The reason is technology and new ways to enhance the picture-taking experience. Because we are in the memory business, my retail and national online boutique photo service has linked with several leading companies to make ordering pictures easier than ever.

Using Photogize, customers instantly order photos and scores of custom gifting products in seconds. Orders are ready for pickup, or mailed back within minutes. Our Lucidiom kiosks and electronic scrapbooking kiosks let customers choose their own photo gifts which helps accelerate add-on sales of frames and other products. This year, thanks to Hollywood FotoFix, it is now easier than ever to help customers restore their photos effortlessly while yielding more profitability too. But, the biggest reason we are excited by the new year is because of our close relationship with companies like Noritsu and Eastman Kodak. Noritsu will be introducing new photo imaging equipment to further simplify workflow. Kodak’s high-speed photo scanning and our new ShoeboxReprints.com service has generated great buzz locally and nationally. Today we are scanning 1,000 pictures while the customer waits, or mailing back the orders the same day.

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