Magazine Article


Extreme Minilab Makeovers

ide open space and the atmosphere of a livingroom
Riviera Imaging after the redesign. Wide open space and the atmosphere of a livingroom make customers feel comfortable.
kids a table and toys
Riviera Imaging now offers kids a table and toys, to keep busy while mom prints.
Riviera Imaging store circa 1994
The look of the Riviera Imaging store circa 1994. Even then there was comfortable seating.
Chris Lydle
Chris Lydle standing next to his “Pardon Our Progress...” poster.
Dick and Mike Walden
Dick and Mike Walden of Ames, IA-based Walden Photo.

The More Things Change…

Much like Lydle, John Perchulyn of Riviera Imaging, Inc. in Redondo Beach, CA, came to PMA 2007 looking for ideas to help make his store the ideal place for consumers to interact, share, and take their photo imaging experiences to the next level.

"I have photos from 13 years ago when we first opened the store," says Perchulyn. "I had a couch and a coffee table in the same area for customers to sit and look at their pictures even back then. So it started out as a lounge—ahead of my time, I guess! The couch made way for more printing equipment. Today, with no need for extra printing equipment, it's now a lounge again. So there is some truth to the old adage ‘what goes around, comes around.'"

Perchulyn says they've always provided digital printing from day one. "We had tried to be on the cutting edge of technology and have kept up with the equipment over the years," he says. "We picked up some new ideas from the PMA Inspiration Center and then implemented some of them into the store redesign."
Like Lydle, Perchulyn is waiting for his HP Photosmart ps2000 Studio system to arrive. "I got to see the HP system at PMA and liked its potential for growing my customer base, especially with new products and services it can provide, such as photo books. I also traveled for live demos of the system at Dan's Camera, and Sid Davidowitz's The Picture Spa location."

On those visits east, Perchulyn made notes on how those two retailers had fit the new equipment into their store design. "I was impressed with some of the things they had done with their locations; I took some of their ideas and combined them with some of mine for our store's makeover."

Going Dry as an Option

One of the big changes they made was to go dry. "We took out our processing area and added the lounge," he says. "We painted the shop to offer more pleasing colors and added some tables where children can play while their moms make prints. Over 80% of my customers are moms, and the new redesign is very mom-friendly. So far customer response has been great. They love the fact they we are tailoring the store just for them."

Millburn, NJ-based Millburn Camera Shop, is also in the middle of a store facelift. "We're in the process of creating a photo spa for customers to come in and sit down to view and print their digital images," says owner, Carl Mink. "We have two locations and have gone dry in the one in question to make space for the new zone. We are now handling the silver-halide processing out of one location and the digital printing out of the other. The area that we had for ordering was crowded and mixed in with other equipment, so we want to make a separate area for the customers with the photo spa."

For inspiration, Mink sought advice from a number of sources. "We solicited ideas from our wives, staff, and some customers," he says. "The spa area is designed for the customers' maximum comfort. We want them to be very comfortable in those chairs while making a lot of prints on our kiosks."

Mink notes that providing enough kiosks for customers is transforming his business by bringing in more people and prompting them to order more prints than before. "We're finding that a lot of customers use our store as a meeting place now," he says. "Often family members and friends will gather at a kiosk and discuss pictures they've taken and decide how they want to edit them and how many prints they want to make. The result is that we're now getting many larger print orders, since people have the time to make a leisurely decision and don't feel rushed."

Once the spa area is completed, Mink also plans to make their bathroom the next project. "It was emphasized at PMA that a clean, up-to-date bathroom is something that target customers are also looking for when they visit a retail establishment," he says. "That will be Phase II of our makeover."

Mike Walden of Walden Photo Inc. in Ames, IA, is in the early stages of their extreme makeover. "We're not just remodeling our store," he explains. "We're redoing a new, bigger location and will be moving into it, hopefully by Labor Day. The contractors just started work on it to get it ready for our needs."

Up until May, they had three locations: Ames, Cedar Falls, and their main store in Waterloo. They closed the Cedar Falls location, which was only seven miles from the Waterloo location, and moved all of the equipment and staff to Waterloo. The Ames location is 100 miles away. "We've now purchased a new building in Cedar Falls, but it's only a quarter mile across the line from where Waterloo and Cedar Falls meet," says Walden. "It's a bigger, more centralized location that should help us better serve the metro area. We will use this opportunity to change things over to a more Jennifer-friendly environment."

Walden is very excited about the new location: "It's a fairly new building and gives us a fresh start. It's an 8,500-square-foot location with an additional 1,000 square feet in the back with bay doors that we might be able to turn into a drive-through spot in the future."

Walden said that in the new store they'll be providing a different atmosphere. "We want to give it a homier, relaxed feel," he says. "We're also getting rid of the countertops. We'll be providing more sitting areas for the customers and will have an area where we can sit with a customer and go over features of a digital camera that they might want to purchase or how their print order came out. We want to make the customer feel like they're in their own living room. We'll have about four or five of these areas scattered around the store."