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cecilh
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Isn't life wonderful! After a most enjoyable few days in Photokina I returned to find the Fuji lab along the road has decided to close. In our small town of 7000 people, we used to have the only lab which was just about right. Then the English tried to take over! First a man from London set up the Fuji lab. The newsagent next door who comes from Birmingham, got a Konica. Then a firm from deepest England known as Boots got in another Fuji lab. Not one to lie down without a fight, and knowing we were the only ones with a high speed film processor, I offered to process films in half an our at no extra charge! We also stuck to Kodak paper and re-joined Kodak Express. Instead of decreasing, our processing went up. After only 2 years Boots sent their machine back where it belonged, and then last year the Konica was removed. The Fuji shop closed its door for the last tine on Saturday. I will never know if life would have so much better over the last few years without opposition, but it has sometimes been fun having to put up a fight and always winning! Cecil Hughson

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The kiosk is a strange one. We have 3, 1 connected to the machine and two instant. The two instant ones are side by side, one Photo Me which does excellent prints and are priced from 40p down to 20p and next to it the new Kodak one with one price - 49p. 90 % of our customers go streight to the bright yellow one. Yesterday, when a customer got

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I guess that many of us are wondering how long we will be operating in such a crowded marketplace. Remember that we are all (most of us at least) emotionally involved in the photo business.This doesn't apply to the large chains, and they'll be off as soon as the figures don't stack up. We seem to be hearing evidence that the extremities are being axed. (Sorry Cecil!) I believe that the Isle of Man has also seen some chains pulling out.

It's just a question of how long we hang on.

Let's face it, we all made more money when the whole minilab business was smaller than it is now.

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I agree, things have almost gone full circle! On the film side we're finding customers almost relieved when they find we can still process film. Many of the stores now have rid their shelves of it and as they take on new staff many don't want the 'bother' of having to process it. Just last week a lady walked into our store and said she'd been to two others who simply didn't care about the order she had. After a little coaxing we got 16 rolls out of her. Similar story from others who have tried to get rolls done within a couple of hours of closing at competitors. They simply aren't interested.

Whilst it is getting better for those of us that remain we do need to smarten our acts up, keep stock levels up, add new services and generally look like we mean business. One of our travelled customers has just returned from the UK and remarked how 'empty' many of the photo stores are with lots looking like they're just hanging in. I was interested in his comments and I wonder how many others look at our industry with the same view.

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I think you made a very good point there , Peter. Bigger is not allways better.

Photosave to, has made a good point. There is no advantage in diversity for the large chains and supermarkets, they just couldn't (or wouldn't) pay the wages for the technicians (certainly true in my part of the world- where their catch phrase seems to be "multi-functional" staff - which seems to mean they can put you anywhere , regardless of wheather you are trained or not (shelf fillers trying to calibrate machines without guidance--Tesco, Pool)).

  On the positive side, I have found that people are relieved to have found a "specialist" that they can talk to, who has the time to explain things to them in terms they can understand, who is willing to be flexible FOR them.

  We can offer far more than D&P, we have a breadth of services and (in most cases) experiance that no chain or supermarket can ever match.

This is what we must ,individualy and collectively, explore and utilise.

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