Becoming a Kodak ProLab/opening a store


TPF Noob!
Jul 31, 2010
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Pensacola/San Salvador
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I have this crazy idea of opening a camera shop in a tourist town and I just don't want to be a point and shoot dealer. The town shall remain nameless but currently has a large group of professional photographers that drive a hour to their closest lab/camera shop. On top of them during the summer there is a huge number of tourist, basically April to October is when the city thrives. With this the population of the city is rather young and there is a large group of amateur/semi-pro photographers. Knowing this I see a chance to open a camera shop. I want to become a Kodak ProLab so I don't turn into a tourist only dealer. I plan on selling Nikon, Canon, and Olympus. Having film processing and photo printing using the kiosk system. And doing a large amount of used says like the shop I work for now does. I will open satellite store in the boardwalk area for the tourist season and offer a incentive to get the tourist to not only buy a camera from me but also wonder to my main store. I am thinking like $10 in free photo printing or a discount on accessories. I will do a rewards club for the locals. I don't have to deal with a BestBuy in town so I will luck out with that.

So what do you think of my idea?

And does anyone have any info on becoming a Kodak ProLab? I cant find a number for Kodak to call to learn how to become a Lab for them. Any help for this?
Glad your going to sort out this town with decent processing, you got the money for the equipment/shoprental/stock or do you think the big K will hand it over for free. If you have any luck with this venture post back the details and I'll start one here. H
And does anyone have any info on becoming a Kodak ProLab? I cant find a number for Kodak to call to learn how to become a Lab for them. Any help for this?

Kodak have a website:

KODAK Digital Cameras, Printers, Digital Video Cameras & more

There, under "All Kodak Products and Services", look under "Pro Photographer / Lab" then "Focus on Labs" and you will find info on the ProLab program, as well as contact details.

Good luck,
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This is just my $.02. I am not a business analyst but this would be my thinking:
- have you had a professional needs analysis done?
- Are you sure there is no one in town doing any sort of processing? I live in a small touristy town and there are a couple shops and a local grocery store. The dry cleaner also does processing and the grocery store has three photo kiosks. The pharmacy has two photo kiosks.
- I still drive the 45 minutes to the closest city to get my processing done. Mostly because I have a photo account with them and can place the order by uploading the shots before driving over. Even if I am on holiday, I can still do this with wifi access. I do this because the place I use makes their machine profile available so that I can colour correct my best shots in PS with the colour profile.
- this is just me, but I never feel the need to get processing done when on holiday. Sure, I'll check them out on my machine, but I'm only going to print the best anyway and that won't be done until I have had a chance to check and process them on a good monitor.
- I may need a piece of equipment because I forgot to bring something, but I probably won't be looking to buy a camera while visiting. Unless I live close to the tourist town, the hassle will be too great for returns or issues I may have with the purchase.
- if you have established pros, you'll need to find out what they like about the print shops they use so you can be a compelling competitor. Proximity is not the only factor for a good business. I'll drive 30 minutes to the Home Depot rather than use the local building centre because I know they will have stock and selection and the prices are generally better. Businesses do this type of analysis all the time... ever been asked for your postal code (zip code) when paying?

This is not meant to be discouraging at all. You may have already thought about a lot of this stuff. I would just hate for you to fall into the category of another failed small business without doing your analysis up front. That doesn't mean you won't have exceptions to the above points. You'll always have a few people who "need" things right away. They likely won't be the majority of visitors, though. Your bank will want a business plan before handing over any loans, unless you are self financing.

Just food for thought.
I wish you all the luck in your venture. That said, I want to add that one of the biggest mistakes new start-up businesses make is going too big too fast. There's nothing wrong with starting small and building up. I would think it would be ok to work a year or two (or more) just being the tourist trap guy and then adding inventory later. There are a lot of advantages to doing it this way over dumping a ton of money (especially if not your own) into starting a new business.
Here's an extract from the ProLab requirements for Premium membership. Anyone can join the ProLab program as a Standard member to get information, but that doesn't get you onto the ProLab 'list', so to speak.

  • A percentage of lab revenue must be gained from professional clients (i.e., Commercial, Portrait/Social, and/or Schools, or labs must have a major Professional Department within a Consumer/Photofinishing Lab).
  • To qualify for Premium Status in the PLRC, Customers must exclusively use KODAK PROFESSIONAL Media and KODAK PROFESSIONAL Photochemicals for their own production. Where a non-KODAK PROFESSIONAL Media and KODAK PROFESSIONAL Photochemicals product is required by a Customer, Customer shall inform Kodak, in writing, and seek an exception to the exclusivity requirement for Premium Status. Kodak will evaluate the request and, at the sole discretion of Kodak Sales/Sales Management personnel, may approve an exception in writing to Customer. In the event Customer does not exclusively use Kodak Media Products and does not obtain the written approval from Kodak, Kodak reserves the right to revoke the Premium Status at any time.
  • Those labs serving independent photographers must specify the main markets they serve and indicate in the Pro Lab Locator the categories of services they offer."
I will be backed by family members for financing. I will try though to get as many grants as I can. It will be a minority owned business so I shouldn't have to many issues with that.

I should have made this part clear, there arent any other camera stores in town or professional photo labs. There is of course Wal-mart, Walgreens, and CVS. None of which do film or true photo finishing. They all have automatic digital picture printers. The shop I work for now is the only place in Pensacola that does true photo finishing and onsite film developing.

As I have learned so far used equipment is a much better seller than new. People love being able to by a pro-level camera/lens for what a new Rebel would cost them. We sell new but used is by far the money maker.

The idea with the satelite store is to keep from becoming a tourist store. Which locals will avoid like the f**king black death, killing me in the winter. I don't mind the ones coming in for prints or for lenses/DSLR's (people really interested in photography) but I dont want 100 whining Jersey Shore cast members in my store stealing everything and wasting our time. By being a ProLab I will begain to build a serious customer base. But I still can help the little guy aswell.

I plan on starting small. Just sales and ProLab. I hope to expand beyound one store after a couple years and also begain to offer classes.

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