Speak to some of those long-time employees and it's like talking to the converted.
Cindy Toman, the store's office manager who has been with the company for 20 years, says Dan's attracts a particular type of person. "We really do provide a nurturing environment here and there are some people who will flourish in that kind of environment and some who won't," Toman says. "But you don't have to be afraid to fail here because we can provide you with the system to help you succeed."
Employees are also able to nominate each each other for a "Green Star" performance award if they notice one of their comrades has done particularly exemplary work. The award includes a gift certificate good for movie tickets or dinner at a local restaurant. To allow employees to spend more time with their families over the summer, Dan's closes its doors on Saturdays and Sundays in June and Augustan almost unheard of practice for some of the biggest picture taking months of the year. During the rest of the year, the hours of operation are shorter than normal too, all in an effort to take some of the pressure off the employees.
Despite the abbreviated hours, customers still make the trek to Dan's, as they have for the last 25 years.
"Many of the customers have been coming since the beginning and still know 'Danny,' as they call him, from the old store," said Kate Monte, a counter person who's been with Dan's for over two years.
Employees who have tried going somewhere else after working at Dan's also have a habit of coming back.
"I couldn't even handle it because they operate totally differently there," said Julie Strauser, a lab supervisor at Dan's about her experience in taking a second job. "When you go some place else, you see how bad it can get."
Paul Maserjian, also a lab manager, said he took his job at Dan's because he was looking for "a challenge."
"The most difficult thing is a forum where you have to listen to everyone and everything," he says. "But if you aren't in that position, you wouldn't be able to uncover where there's a problem and fix it." D.H.
Dan's Drop Sites
A bout three years ago when major construction snarled traffic on nearby Route 22, preventing customers from reaching his store, Dan Poresky began thinking the unthinkable about Dan's Camera Cityhe began considering opening another store. "What it came down to was 'Do we want to open other locations?'" Mike Woodland remembers. "But then we realized, you can't do Dan's if there is more than one placethe staffing, the knowledge, you just can't do that if there's a dozen places."
After the idea was quashed, Poresky came up with another plan to open small satellite locations in other people's stores staffed with Dan's employees. The concept was reminiscent of Poresky's early days in the photo business when he rented counter space at someone else's camera store and sold used equipment.
Woodland wasn't so keen on the idea though. "I said I like the concept but I don't like the idea of having to put our staff in there," he recalls.
As an alternative, an idea was floated to install self-service drop boxes at independent businesses in the area where customers could leave their film to be picked up by a Dan's courier for processing. Success with the boxes at a bookstore and printer generated more interest and before long, the program was quickly expanded.
With construction on Route 22 long since completed, the drop boxes have taken on a life of their own. Currently 15 stores in a 30-mile radius are outfitted with them.Click for larger image
Once an appropriate location is selected, the boxes are installed, training is given to the employees at the location, and the site is listed in Dan's ads and promotional pieces featuring the services. Drop sites also get a percentage on the film they sell, which is purchased from Dan's at cost.