After checking out Sony's PictureStation unit, she was impressed with the system's wide range of media capabilities and high-quality printing, as well as the $8,000 price tag, which Rodriguez said fit squarely in her budget range.
She bought it "on the spot," she said.
Prior to the system's arrival, Rodriguez began to promote her new store's impending digital printing capabilities, and on July 3, hung a sign in her storefront that proclaimed "Pictures From Your Digital Camera While You Wait."
On July 5, Rodriguez said she had "tons of people walking in to check out the system and make prints of their Independence Day holiday festivities."
"Everybody's amazed at the quality of the pictures," she said. "Customers just love the fact that they can walk in with their memory card and instantly get incredibly high-quality prints."
Since that time, the store has been doing about 30 to 40 prints a day. New and repeat customers have included a woman who travels to New York almost every weekend to visit her boyfriend, only to return every Monday to make prints. A nearby antiques dealer often takes pictures of furniture in her store, then prints them out at Harrington's so potential customers can discuss the furniture at home with their spouses.
"Usually we've found that all new customers will print one picture at first, then put the memory card back in and go to town printing many more," Rodriguez said.
Customers have come to appreciate the system's preview function, through which customers can magnify images well beyond what they would see in their camera's viewfinder. Rodriguez added that the system's intuitive software has earned kudos for, among other things, providing a summary screen that details the number of images printed and calculates the total, including tax.
With the PictureStation system, customers are beginning to bypass the step of downloading pictures from their camera onto the hard drive of their computer.
"They don't want to go through the computer because now they don't have to," Rodriguez said. "They simply want to print their images quickly and efficiently."
The PictureStation system has expanded printing options for digital camera users nationwide, said Steve Blum, vice president of digital photography for Sony's Business Solutions and Systems Company.
"With massive consumer adoption of digital cameras over the last five years, independent photo specialty stores have found themselves faced with a business challenge to begin offering digital services or risk going out of business," Blum said. "For retailers, our PictureStation system is a low-risk investment that offers big dividends and helps set them apart from their competitors."
Photo Fast's Bell has sage advice for his peers throughout the photo industry. "If someone doesn't have a machine like this, they probably won't be in business in 18 months," he said. ptn