The once venerable brand known as Polaroid has been through its share of ups and downs over the years, from bankruptcy troubles to rapidly changing directions as the company attempted to survive digital disruption. However, the company's latest move, the launch of a chain of photo printing stores, might be its riskiest, and possibly smartest move in years.
Dubbed Fotobars, the brick-and-mortar outlets will allow customers to wirelessly transfer photos from their digital devices and have them output with museum-quality printing and framing. The stores will also serve as mini photo galleries, offering visitors a look at the kind of printing and framing they can apply to their own digital images.
Explaining the reasoning behind the new stores, Fotobar CEO Warren Struhl said, "Unfortunately, even the very best [digital photos] rarely ever escape the camera phone with which they were taken to be put on display around our homes and offices. Why? Because turning those pictures into something tangible, creative and permanent is neither easy nor fun. Polaroid Fotobar stores are going to change all of that."
Fotobar workstations will support popular photo sharing applications and platforms including Instagram, Picasa, and Facebook. After customers craft their printing and framing options, the finished product will be shipped to them within 72 hours.
There are 10 stores planned for 2013, with the first launching in February in Delray Beach, Florida. Other future locations will include New York, Boston and Las Vegas.