DIY the key in local photo retailing

Alan Logue, Hutt Street Photos, Adelaide, responds to last week’s lead story on store closures:

Catherine and Alan Logue.

Catherine and Alan Logue. (Source: Facebook)

I know the numbers of stores have dropped, and I’m guessing that these will be for various reasons – higher rents, higher other costs, loss of desire to trade, loss of profit, and plenty more.

But there are stores out there still trading and growing their business!

As you know, I still have yellow blood – but it is tainted.

Our store still trades as a Kodak Express member (the only one now in Adelaide), but it is Kodak in name only. We get little or no support from Kodak Alaris in Australia other than an occasional email with a promotional poster attached.

They did look at getting involved in a deal with the portable kiosk, but that didn’t come off due to the customer not believing there was a significant advantage for him. I also look at what Kodak Alaris is doing in the UK, and its support for its members is chalk and cheese compared to the Australian effort.

We have had little involvement with Fuji in Australia, but what we have had has been good.

We are a member of IPI (we were one of the first members in Australia), and the support that we get from them is fantastic. They are a group of like-minded retailers who help each other with marketing and sales support. In the USA they also support the members with buying deals and rebates. The IPI Marketing program has given us a lot of help to get our message out there. It’s not perfect, it’s very ‘American-centric’, but it still gives us the ideas to build on and grow our business.

I think it is fairly well accepted that the Australian photo printing market was effectively killed off by the entry of Harvey Norman and its low (5c to 10c) print pricing. As Harveys was using Fuji products, then Fuji Australia has to bear some responsibility for this.

As someone who travels to the USA more often than I sometimes want to, it is very interesting to see the different dynamics in that market.

Fujifilm USA has done an excellent job of working with BOTH mass merchants and photo retail markets. They have not bastardised one to get the other! IPI proves this, and the support that the group get from Fujifilm USA is SUPERB. In return, the members of the group support Fuji. In its home country, Kodak hardly rates a mention because it didn’t see where the industry was going. (Guess I don’t really need to go on about that, do I!).

None of the above is of itself, a recipe for a business to be successful.

Some Australian photo retailers are in groups where someone is responsible for buying, promotions, marketing and advertising. Good for them, and if it is done correctly, they will be successful.

Smaller stores, like ours, do it on our own – refer to my previous comments about lack of support from our major supplier.

For our business to work, and stay profitable, I need to identify what I want to promote, work out how to advertise it, work out a good price and then bring it all together in the shop.

Hutt St Photos: 'Thank God I don't have to deal with the likes of Westfield.'

Hutt St Photos: ‘Thank God I don’t have to deal with the likes of Westfield.’ (Source: Google Street View)

We have a good relationship with our landlord and we negotiate rises in our rent which keep us both happy. Thank God I don’t have to deal with the likes of Westfield.

We do not sell cameras (except Holga film cameras) but we do offer a range of services for our customers to archive and save their photo memories. We currently have literally piles of slides, video tape and movie film to be ‘digitised’.

We have become a destination store for those kinds of services due to consistent advertising over the last 5+ years. Only today I recorded four new radio ads after signing another contract to advertise for the next 12 months.

Our staff are our greatest asset, and I’m pleased that we have customers coming back so often with order after order because of how we have helped them.

I guess all this is trying to say is that a photo business CAN be successful but it costs money to do it. If you don’t have the turnover and profitability you can’t do the things you want to do. It CAN be done, but a commitment to watching what other successful operators do will make it easier to grow your own business. You need to be prepared to experiment with new ideas and adapt them to improve them. Above all, you need to advertise what you do and get your message out.

If we did not advertise, we would not have a business.

We have had great support from Stuart and his team at IPS, and also great support from Australian Photo Supplies and C-Direct – we work WITH our distributors and not against them, and I do not spend all my waking hours worrying about what K Mart or Harvey Norman are doing – I run my business, they don’t!!!!

I’m really looking forward to the IPIC Show in Vegas. It is like an Ideas Bank. The difficulty will be deciding on what I want to use out of all the ideas I will see.
– Alan Logue,
Hutt Street Photos

COMMENT: Sincere thanks to Alan for his thoughtful, honest and inspiring contribution. As a fellow ‘Old Kodakian’, I can understand how disappointing it must be for him to have to call out Kodak Alaris for what he feels it currently is. Fortunately there is, as he notes, IPS, and managing director Stuart Holmes outlines the services provided by his team to Kodak-supporting retailers in Readers Comments at the end of this story…   KS   

 


5 thoughts on “DIY the key in local photo retailing

  1. Thank goodness for smart operators like Alan & Catherine Logue who really put the “Specialty” back into Photo Specialty! Being IPI Marketing Group Members & running their own race providing their customers with the very things that the Mass Merchants & Supermarkets can’t, being Service, Quality and Great Value!.
    This has been the same vision that Independent Photo (IPS) was born with, not worrying what the ‘Big Box’ guys are doing, worrying about what “we” are doing!.
    Its a long held belief of mine that you “cannot save your way into a good business, you must market your way into one”! That is the way to survive & prosper in a difficult market environment.
    This is why Independent Photo (IPS) are the Sth. Hemisphere Partners to the IPI Marketing Group, because like Alan & Catherine we want to be part of something bigger than just ourselves, and we also want to help to develop & encourage our Aussie & Kiwi Markets to do the same!
    See you & all the other “Smart Operators” at IPIC2015 next week for a recharge of fresh marketing ideas!
    Cheers, Stuart

  2. As a great follow up, we had a lady drop in 3 SD cards today for us to make DVD’s of her movies – total cost of the movies $380. But she has about 60 jpg files which she wanted printed, but our price was too high as she could get her photos done at Office Works for 9c each. So we put them on a disc for her at $9.99 so she could go to office works for her prints!!!!!!! Go figure!

    • Surely after a customer spends $380 in your store you could do the prints free of or at least match office works. By folding to her demands you build a positive relationship with that customer who is more likely to come back. Excellent customer service is just as important as a good price to some people.

      That’s what makes the little stores stand out to the big retailers like Kmart or harvey norman. Customer service. If you bend over backwards they’re likley to tell someone else how good it was what you did. And word of mouth is priceless.

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