Remember Fuji Wonder Photo Shops and all those Fuji dudes in pink polo shirts at the last Digital Show down in Melbourne?
No – neither did I until I was reminded of it as I read this week about Fujifilm North America Corporation launching its very own immersive-photo-and-brand-experience retail store in New York City.
The press release stated that ‘this first-of-its-kind retail store in the US joins Fujifilm’s other Wonder Photo Shops in Tokyo, Barcelona, Bogata, Manila, Shanghai and Singapore.’
– Hang on, how about a hat tip to the mighty Sydney suburb of Auburn, where Australia’s first Wonder Photo Shop was to have opened last October – awash with washi tape – at Harvey Normans. – (Well, where else?)
The NYC Wonder Photo Shop follows the template developed elsewhere: Instax…learning centre…quick print kiosks…,photo booth…personalised photo products…wall decor…collage prints…Facebook, Instagram…Instax.
But harkening back to the local launch, I noticed that Fujifilm had stated at the time that a) it had opened a Wonder Photo Store in Harveys, Auburn, and b) ‘Fujifilm Australia told PhotoCounter that the Wonder Photo Shops would not be exclusive to Harvey Norman: ‘You can expect to see it [the concept] in many stores including independents over the coming months.’
So I sent off an email to Fujifilm’s PR consultant (Fujifilm staff are apparently not permitted to speak directly with PhotoCounter), enquiring whether the Harvey Norman Auburn store still houses a Wonder Photo Shop, and how many Australian Fuji Wonder Shops have now opened?
I then called the Harvey Norman photo department at Auburn to ask them whether they were still a Wonder Photo Shop. They didn’t know what I was talking about. In fact, I think they may have thought me a little bit loco.
Nonetheless Fujifilm is pretty certain it’s a Wonder Photo Shop, even if the store manager wasn’t so sure. Furthermore, there are another 125 ‘unbranded’ Wonder Photo Shop stores-within-a-store (-within-a-store?) in Harvey Norman, and there is a branded shop-in-shop at Michaels. ‘There are also a number of other Independent retailers with Mini-Wonder Photo Shop installations’ and Fujifilm says it is currently working with a major retailer to launch more Wonder Photo Shop stores-within-a-store before Christmas.
– We’re gunna need a bigger boatload of washi tape.
Also sent a query to Camera House to find out whether any of its retailers had picked up the Wonder Shop concept and run with it. Given Camera House head office responds to about one email in five, I was about due for one – and it was duly received. My contact was a bit hazy on the Wonder Photo Shop notion, but promised to follow up….
So it seems the Wonder Shops haven’t gone the way of Fuji Image Plazas, or music- and software-dispensing Fuji DPCs, or Whitech software, or good customer relations with photo specialists. Not yet, anyway.However, my research did uncover one so far unrevealed fact: The Singapore Wonder Photo Shop is located in…you guessed it…a Harvey Norman store! (Wonder where they get their washi tape from?)