Having finally concluded that its cameras are redundant in the digital age, Polaroid still believes physical prints have a commercial future. It’s using another old-school tactic: real world retail stores.
The stores will be dubbed Fotobars and will allow customers to walk in, select pictures from their digital device (or from an online account such as Facebook, Instagram or Picasa), then upload them wirelessly to a workstation.
From here they’ll be able to use a range of editing tools such as red-eye correction and filters. Trained staff will be on hand to offer advice, using the name “Phototenders” (for which, read Geek Squad or Geniuses.)
Once happy with the results, the customer can choose from a range of physical products from a simple framed print to a picture on acrylic, bamboo, canvas, metal or wood.
The retail store experience somewhat falls apart there as the customer then has to wait up to 72 hours for the artwork to be created and it’s shipped to their house rather than taken home from the store.
If you’re wondering why you couldn’t simply edit and upload your pictures at home and make the order online, well actually Polaroid is setting up an accompanying website that does exactly that. This means that, aside from looking at examples of the various artwork mediums, there doesn’t seem to be any benefit for the customer in visiting the store.
In effect then, the stores are little more than an attempt to gather attention from passers-by. Indeed, Polaroid says it “envisions the stores becoming a recreational and entertainment destination in addition to a place to shop.” It also predicts they’ll be “cool, hip, experiential stores,” so in effect we’re talking an Apple store where you can’t actually buy anything to take away.
The first store will open in Delray Beach, Florida next month, with stores planned for New York, Las Vegas and Boston among others this year.