When I started this business way back when, we opened our doors as a One Hour Photo lab. We had Agfa lab coats and name tags. When people walked in the door to develop film we would say, “How about a second set of prints today.” When customers picked up their orders, the prints would have little stickers on them saying, “suitable for enlargement.” One Hour Photo soon became 50 minute photo, then 39 minute photo. and finally some nut job started doing 20 minute photo. Around this time I realized that this was a race we did not want to enter, so we took down the neon sign and redefined ourselves as a more high end developing shop.
Back then you had Fox Photo, Wolf Camera, Express Photo, and bunch of Mom and Pop labs too. Almost everyone is gone now, and just the other day the last Express Photo closed on Irving St here in San Francisco. This shop was a real neighborhood place with a loyal local following. I do not know the details of the closure, but I do know the store will be missed. I’ve heard the staff were very cool photo geeks and that unlike other shops they put out a nice product.
On the other side of the coin we have Ritz Camera who has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Don’t know if they are closing their doors, I doubt it. I do know that I have little sympathy for a cut rate outfit like Ritz. Hey guys, maybe doing digital prints for 6 cents was a bad idea!!!!! Thanks for low balling and driving the price down while devaluing the product for everyone else. Now I know why you can sell cameras for cheap. It’s because you never pay your vendors back the mountain of credit you owe. You owe Fuji Film 8 million bucks……..I’m a Fuji paper customer, if I pay my supply bill late, they stop delivering paper and I’m screwed.
I’m sure I’m over simplifying a complicated financial matter. As a result of these developments, we have picked up a few displaced customers which is fine. I hope I can help the Express Photo customer out, but if anyone rolls in here asking for 6 cents prints, I’ll throw them out, or refer them to Costco. Don’t get me started on Costco…….