Polaroid Creating Branded Retail Stores

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Creating a retail empire off an electronics brand worked for Apple. Perhaps it can do the same for Polaroid. 

This year, Polaroid will launch at least 10 experimental retail locations that will give people the chance to take images from their digital devices and turn them into keepsakes. The first of these stores, dubbed Polaroid Fotobar, will open in February in Delray Beach, Fla. 

“I recognized the human and societal obsession with taking pictures, but [then] people weren’t taking the pictures off their camera phones,” Warren Struhl, founder and CEO of Fotobar, tells Marketing Daily. “Our answer to the meteoric rise of picture-taking and the [improved] quality of picture taking is to establish a retail concept where you can see a product and make it into something special.”

The stores are intended to capitalize on the growing number of pictures taken via camera phones, which are often shared digitally through social networks, but rarely printed or displayed in the real world, Struhl says. Working with Polaroid gives the concept a link for consumers to instant photography, within a fun, experiential environment, he says.

“The Polaroid brand worldwide is powerful and highly recognized, particularly among people of a certain age,” Struhl says. “It means quality, it means innovation, it means instant, and it means pictures.”

In addition to the Delray Beach location, the company plans to open other Polaroid Fotobar stores in New York, Las Vegas and Boston, Struhl says. It is looking at different “paradigms” for its retail stores, including shopping malls and airports as it experiments with the concept, he adds. 

Each store will include a patent-pending proprietary technology that allows customers to wirelessly transmit photos on their phone to one of the store’s bar-top workstations. At the stations, people can edit and enhance the photos before choosing materials, substrates (including canvas, metal, acrylic, wood and bamboo) and framing options for their photos. Most of the final pieces will be created and shipped to the consumer within 72 hours. 

Staffed by photography enthusiasts (the company is calling them “Phototenders”), the stores may also host photo classes and private parties and have a studio location to create portraits. “That is a magnet, we believe, and the beginning of experiential opportunities in the store,” Struhl says. “We also believe the simple visit to the store and making something is something that could be a lot of fun for people.”

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