Thanks to Dan's reputation, there's no shortage of prospective businesses. "We always have people calling saying they want to be a drop site," says Lori Michael who helps run Dan's drop site and mail order processing department.
The customer can pick up their prints at the store or at the drop site location. Runs to the sites are made daily by Dan's couriers who drive a bright yellow VW Beetle emblazoned with Dan's Camera City's logo.
"The drop sites are handy for people who work because they can get to the sites more easily than driving all the way down here," says Dorothy Smits, also an employee in the drop site and mail order department. D.H.
Doing Digital at Dan's
Like most photo retailers out there, Dan's has taken the digital plunge. But instead of focusing on just one aspect of digital imaging, as with most things at Dan's, the store's taken a holistic approach.
"Digital services and equipment, while not inexpensive, allow us to react to the customer's needs better than ever before," says Steve Olock, director of Digital Imaging Services at Dan's.
The following are just a few of the areas where Dan's has stayed at the forefront of selling digital.
Digital Cameras Dan's offers a wide range of digital cameras from the Olympus D-380 point-and-shoot style digital to the Nikon D-1x pro-level digital SLR. To keep its staff up to date about the technology, Dan's has a loaner pool of digital cameras that employees are free to use. As an incentive to try out the cameras, staff members receive a certain amount of free digiprints every month. The store also sponsors field trips for its employees to digital workshops such as Nikon's digital photography school in New York.
Customers can get a quick education in digital imaging either by talking to one of Dan's employees or by reading the store-created digital camera reference guide, a handy resource that answers everything from "What is a megapixel?" to how to attach sound clips to your images. To give customers an idea of what the images look like when they're printed, each digital camera at Dan's has a corresponding photo album of images taken with that particular model.
Digital Days at Dan's Twice a year, the store holds "Digital Days at Dan's Camera City," a week-long event where representatives from the major camera companies visit the store to talk to customers. To draw people in, the store holds digital camera drawings, offers savings on digital products and special deals on prints from digital cameras. At a recent "Digital Days," five classes in digital photography taught by Olympus drew large crowds. The store is also gearing up for a full-scale digital expo at the convention center in Bethlehem, PA on March 23rd.
Digital Kiosks Thanks to four digital kiosks, three of which are on the store's floor, and one which is used for staff training, Dan's has seen its digital print processing grow exponentially over the last year. The kiosks, Touch Print APM's from Lucidiom, are hooked up to a Noritsu digital minilab in the back of the store, allowing the customer a range of print size options and a choice between matte or glossy paper. While Dan's traditional roll counts have slid a bit in the last year because of the advent of digital, the store's overall processing has held steady, and is even slightly ahead, in large part because of the popularity of the kiosks.
Online Processing An aspect of Dan's digital services that is just starting to take off is its online processing "Digiprint" service. At PMA last February, Dan's signed on with a service called Photogize from Graphx, a software firm best known for its RasterPlus color printer software products. With Photogize, a digital lab can receive digital images from a customer's PC via the dealer's own website. After the images are uploaded to the site, the customer can come by to pick up the prints when the order is ready. Or in other words, instead of going through one of the online services such as Ofoto or Shutterfly and waiting a week for the prints to arrive, a customer just drops by their area dealer the next day and picks them up. With a place like Dan's that has a reputation for high-quality processing, there's even more incentive to use the service.
"Maybe it's a little more expensive than Wal-mart or Ofoto, but the quality is better and it's local," Mike Woodland says.
Dan's is currently getting about a dozen orders a day using the online service, though Woodland says he expects the number to increase as people get more familiar with the process. D.H
It's Easy Being Green
Long before he became involved in the environmental movement, Dan Poresky had been making a few tacit efforts to help the planet, including instituting a recycling plan at Dan's Camera City when most photo retail stores didn't even know what recycling was. But it wasn't until the UN declared that the world population had reached 6 billion people on October 12, 1999 that it all suddenly hit home for him.