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  1. #11
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGW View Post
    And third just might be that demand was waning anyway--crash or no crash.
    What contradicts that is the rising prices for many of the more desirable items as fewer come up for sale and an increase in film sales.

    Ian

  2. #12
    CGW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    What contradicts that is the rising prices for many of the more desirable items as fewer come up for sale and an increase in film sales.

    Ian
    These are really just the same old dead horses that deserve a decent burial. Collectibles/mint/NOS/rarities sell; mid-market/abused/common stuff doesn't in N. America. The "increase" in film sales is apparent only after a decade of calamitous decline--simply put, it's not increasing if tracked as a secular trend--sorry! What else explains the disappearance of labs and film from the mainstream market?
    Last edited by CGW; 08-15-2011 at 05:38 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #13

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    Lab disappearance is follow-the-crowd mentality.

    People believe they can't make money so they bail. The next guy over sees that and bails (before he loses out).

    Wal-mart and Costco put millions of mom and pop minilabs out of business by underpricing them and then decide they can't "justify" keeping their services running. So they bail.

    An inventive photo lab could make lots of money in both digital and film services but, for a lot of people, a little work is too much work. They like it better when they just open the doors and the business floods in. When the flood stops they aren't happy with a flowing stream, they go searching for a new flood.

    It was like this with the video rentals and then Blockbuster came in and killed them off. Now Blockbuster is busted and the mom and pop video stores are long gone.

    I see people begging for reasonable E6, BW and medium format services but they are almost non-existent.

    Film scanning services (fair price and outstanding quality) are also a money maker.

    But, business people are not imaginative. They just want to read Entrepreneur magazine and follow the crowd.
    - Bill Lynch

  4. #14
    CGW
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    I see people begging for reasonable E6, BW and medium format services but they are almost non-existent.

    Film scanning services (fair price and outstanding quality) are also a money maker.

    But, business people are not imaginative. They just want to read Entrepreneur magazine and follow the crowd.


    Truisms at ten paces? Show me the crowd control issues for local police forces keeping those dip-n-dunk customers calm.

    Banks don't carry lines of credit on imagination. Valuations of indy photo labs, pro or otherwise, tanked years ago. They bailed because they weren't profitable, OK?
    My surviving pro lab finally dropped all film services last year. Why? A trickle of film customers and machinery they couldn't justify repairing. They're still afloat and seem to be enjoying a "last man standing" niche market that's been stable. I'm going further afield and paying more for film services that plainly aren't robust businesses. Amateurs dragging in a few rolls a month and ordering a few 8x10s don't pay the bills.

    How do you invent customers? Answer that and you're set!

  5. #15
    BradS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wblynch View Post
    An inventive photo lab could make lots of money in both digital and film services.....
    As disappointed as I am to see the loss of so many fine photo labs in my local area, I have to say, I completely disagree with you on this. I suggest that you get a feeling for how much it costs to keep a Fuji Frontier machine up and running. Forget about the initial capital cost of the machine....just look at the daily and yearly operating costs. Just water, electricity, regular preventive maintenance and consumables....forget about repairs, employee wages and insurance, forget about lease costs and all the other business expenses....then figure out how many rolls of film you'd have to process to even break even.

  6. #16
    Pumalite's Avatar
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    I'm glad in my town things are as they are. There are 3 labs for guys like me that have been interested in film for years and won't quit. I started at 12. I can find any camera I want, but I buy Digitals for my wife and my children. There is plenty of film and Services. As well as cameras. Most cameras I find and I like are not "dead" or "beaten to dead" I'm happy with the interest and supplies that currently we have.
    " A loving and caring heart is the beginning of all knowledge " ~ Thomas Carlyle ~

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by BradS View Post
    ....then figure out how many rolls of film you'd have to process to even break even.
    My neighbor used to own and operate 3 1-hour photo stores. When digital came along, more and more customers would walk in the door asking to get their digital pictures printed. Her stores "didn't do that". Costco came along and were the first around here to offer digital printing.

    My neighbor got nervous.

    She didn't want to invest in new digital systems, so she shut down the 1-hour photos and converted them to Subway Sandwich shops. She made lots of money in photo and lots of money in sandwiches.

    Imagination..

    There are film processors that are intended to develop as few as 5 rolls a day.

    If one had 3 stores, like my neighbor, they could easily consolidate the film into one place. Not everyone needs 1 hour service. Many people would be happy with overnight or even 3-day service if it meant having a local, dependable, place to go. - with reasonable prices. No one wants to pay $20 for develop, scan and prints.

    The remaining film customers are very dedicated and can be loyal customers.

    One could sublease a small corner and back room of a Hallmark or Stationery store and run their lab out of that. One could even have the lab offsite in a cheap industrial area.

    An imaginative person could figure out there is a lot of money to be made. I think a 20-30 year old person could make a great 1-person business.

    Offer scanning and restoration services. Offer video slideshows. All are cheap and easy to do and fill the time between film rolls.

    People are not ever going to buy enough coffee mugs to keep anyone alive.
    - Bill Lynch

  8. #18
    MattKing's Avatar
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    In Vancouver G. King Photo, one of the four surviving full service pro labs, went under last year. Some of their staff were hired by Customcolor, and I think Customcolor may have bought some of their equipment. Customcolor has recently moved to new, expanded premises.

    In the conversations I've had with my usual lab, ABC Photo, they indicate to me that volumes have stabilized.

    I'm cautiously hopeful.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  9. #19
    CGW
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    Quote Originally Posted by wblynch View Post
    My neighbor used to own and operate 3 1-hour photo stores. When digital came along, more and more customers would walk in the door asking to get their digital pictures printed. Her stores "didn't do that". Costco came along and were the first around here to offer digital printing.

    My neighbor got nervous.

    She didn't want to invest in new digital systems, so she shut down the 1-hour photos and converted them to Subway Sandwich shops. She made lots of money in photo and lots of money in sandwiches.

    Imagination..

    There are film processors that are intended to develop as few as 5 rolls a day.

    If one had 3 stores, like my neighbor, they could easily consolidate the film into one place. Not everyone needs 1 hour service. Many people would be happy with overnight or even 3-day service if it meant having a local, dependable, place to go. - with reasonable prices. No one wants to pay $20 for develop, scan and prints.

    The remaining film customers are very dedicated and can be loyal customers.

    One could sublease a small corner and back room of a Hallmark or Stationery store and run their lab out of that. One could even have the lab offsite in a cheap industrial area.

    An imaginative person could figure out there is a lot of money to be made. I think a 20-30 year old person could make a great 1-person business.

    Offer scanning and restoration services. Offer video slideshows. All are cheap and easy to do and fill the time between film rolls.

    People are not ever going to buy enough coffee mugs to keep anyone alive.
    Sorry but that business model failed. How high does the wreckage have to be to catch your eye?

  10. #20
    michaelbsc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattKing View Post
    In the conversations I've had with my usual lab, ABC Photo, they indicate to me that volumes have stabilized.

    I'm cautiously hopeful.
    Good for you guys. The one remaining guy in my town only runs 135, no 120, which I think is a big mistake. He is losing to Walgreens across the street.
    Michael Batchelor
    Industrial Informatics, Inc.
    www.industrialinformatics.com

    The camera catches light. The photographer catches life.

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