Polaroid Fotobar brings digital to physical

Nov 03, 2014

Polaroid is expanding its Polaroid Fotobar experiential retail concept with the opening of seven micro-retail locations in California.

Launched in 2012 and currently operating traditional stores in South Florida and Las Vegas, Polaroid Fotobar offers customers the ability to instantly turn pictures that only currently live on their smartphones, Facebook, Instagram and other digital platforms into "cherished pieces of art" by printing them using the popular Polaroid Classic Border Logo format.

"When I ask people to show me their favorite picture, they take out their phone. My next question is, does that image live outside your phone, exquisitely framed on a wall, desk or shelf?" said Warren Struhl, CEO and founder of Polaroid Fotobar, in a statement. "Nine times out of ten they say ‘No,’ with strong emotion. I realized this was a pain point in people’s lives."

The pictures can be transformed into three different size Polaroid prints. A Polaroid 3.5 x 4.25 transfer is available for $1.00 each (minimum of 6) with a 9 x 11 costing $10 each and 14 x 17 priced at $15.00. The photos can then be matched to an extensive selection of custom frames, displays and unique photo products crafted from a variety of materials, including canvas, acrylic, metal, glass and bamboo.

Polaroid Fotobar has three stores ranging from a 2,000 square foot location in Delray Beach, FL to a 4,500 square feet flagship in Las Vegas, which include event spaces and a professional portrait studio. The new micro-retail concept measures only 300 square feet. Franchised opportunities are being offered.

"Our new micro-retail stores represent the best of our technology, merchandising and retail knowledge, creating a highly scalable, efficient store model that can be rolled out nationwide," said Mr. Struhl.

What do you think of the rollout potential of Polaroid Fotobar? Are there other opportunities to extend digital media to physical retail?

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9 Comments on "Polaroid Fotobar brings digital to physical"

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Kevin Graff

I was at a friend’s house over the weekend and they pulled out a photo book containing photos from their recent holiday. It was like getting hit in the head with a big light bulb! Why are all my photos stuck on my phone or in cyberspace? Why do we never look at them?
The emotional connection that lives with photos is exactly why I believe Polaroid Fotobars will do exceptionally well. Make it easy for people to print out their photos in new and exciting ways and they will.

I’ll be in Vegas in a couple of weeks, and I will be stopping into the Fotobar with my phone and iCloud password!

Gajendra Ratnavel

Printed photos still have great appeal and Struhl’s finding is not surprising. What is missing here is the question of how his clients are “sharing” or “viewing” these images. I suspect the pictures are either not fit for the wall or in most cases they are shared online or via mobile outside the home or office.

The idea to reduce the retail footprint is great! It will bring photo printing to locations closer to everyone’s homes. However, the competition from Black’s, Walmart, etc., is tough. They serve the purpose of printing photos in a very convenient way. The experience might not be as amazing but considering how many actually print mobile photos, I am not sure it makes a big difference.

Steve Montgomery

The advantage of digital is that you can take many to get “the one.” The problem has been that printing them out at home on photo paper hasn’t yielded result worthy of that one great shot.

Polaroid Fotobar gives people an easy way to convert those digital images worthy of wall space or desk space into memories that they can share and look at daily.

Ken Lonyai

Warren has built some successful companies, but I don’t know about this one. There is competition in a number of forms, from web sites to kiosks to home printers and more. The execution and ability for these shops to catch people in the moment and get them to fork over the cash will be the key. Also, while people like to have important photos surround them in their home, there has been a paradigm shift as to how imagery is consumed. It’s a social norm now to take out a mobile device and show photos. Sharing can’t be done with a picture on the wall without resorting back to the original on a device or storage medium.

As far as extending digital media to retail: Yes there are many other engaging ways without selling to customers.

Max Goldberg

Great service, but nothing new. Many companies offer the ability to instantly print digital photos and turn them into physical objects. Polaroid has an instantly recognizable brand name and a good reputation, so it should be able to garner market share.

Their prices seem high, but that’s for the marketplace to determine.

Tom Redd

Perfect move to address the market of non Gen-Z/younger Millennials. Many of the Millennials and Zers could care less about any image in a physical sense. Their desire is staring and sharing at anything digital. If they could they would live inside their phones, iPads, or PCs.

Polaroid has it right for the older crowd and the non-conforming Millennials and Gen Zers. This group sees the value of a memory and what it means to share the physical image vs. attaching pics to emails.

Kai Clarke

This is a solution looking for a problem. Many consumers show their pictures on digital photo frames, or simply share them with their phone because it is the vehicle of choice for sharing, communicating, sending, etc. Why print something out when everyone wants to share and communicate it digitally?

James Tenser

Polaroid Fotobar has some nice potential in tourist areas where lots of digital photos are being captured. They might work nicely as urban pop-up stores during the holiday season. But rolling them out to shopping malls might be risky, even with a small (low rental cost) footprint.

In short, I see this as a specialized retail concept that can succeed in small numbers but won’t scale to a large chain.

Naomi K. Shapiro
Naomi K. Shapiro
2 years 11 months ago

Sounds like a good old concept in a shiny new package—which I applaud. How many times I’ve thought about the photos stowed in my (or, more importantly, my daughter’s) digital collection that I’d like to have in hard copy—lovely, printed photos of my granddaughter, not just residing in a phone or sent by email, but to hang on my wall, an art that has been slipping away of late.


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