The days of drugstore 1-hour photo are gone

At least in my town.  I’ve been up at my mom’s recently, and noticed that the Walgreens where I did my film processing back in the day no longer has their minilab, sadly.  Now this doesn’t affect me at all, but was still a bummer to find out.  Maybe I should have asked one of the employees about it all, but really I was done with that store years ago.  The last time I took film there it cost me $18 for three rolls of film and they didn’t scan them, because evidently they started some racket where they wouldn’t give people scans unless they bought prints as well.

Even then, I’d still try to give them business–though I was never successful, I’d encourage my Woodland Park friends to shoot film and get it developed at Walgreens.  They never took me on, and sadly it’ll be that much harder for anyone in this area to try film.

The local processing may be gone, but the film remains.  City Market sells Kodak Max 400 and Gold 200 (plus single-use cameras) and the Wal-Mart sells 4-packs of Fuji.  The last time I went to Wal-Mart though, which was right after Christmas, I noticed that they no longer sold Fuji Superia 800, and that seems to be all across the board, at least in Colorado.  Too bad, because I love that film and now I don’t know how to get ahold of it cheaply.  Then again, I haven’t used it since experiencing the wonders of Cinestill 800T, so how does this all affect me?  Not at all.

Support your Indie camera stores!

Why?  Because they provide the best service, and exist mainly through your willingness to go to them.  I’ve been doing that for a while, but when I agreed to shoot a show for a friend of mine, I planned on taking them to the *ahem* local drugstore chain (that wants to buy up every good corner location in America, it seems), because my friend needed the pics ASAP and Drugstore Chain could do it quick.  Well, it turned out not to work that way.

I drop them off, I figure 3 rolls in 2 hours wouldn’t be pushing things, get some other stuff done and come back for the film to find out they didn’t scan my negatives, so I was charged $6.00 per roll just for development.  Wow.  So the conversation with the lady in the photo department (the same one I know from years back) went something like this:

“I wanted these scanned, but there’s no cd.”
“I asked you if you wanted them printed, you said no.”
“I don’t want prints, but I did want my negatives scanned.”
“Well, ‘print’ means ‘scanned.'”

So, clearly a miscommunication, but it’s one that cost me time, and I had the option of waiting 30min for the negatives to be scanned (which would have made me late for my class that day), or picking them up when I got back, which would have been about 5hrs later.  Not good options, considering I only went to them in the first place because I wanted them done fast so I could send them off to my friend.  Perhaps my own fault with a lack of communication, but I decided the bigger mistake was not taking my film down to the real camera store in the first place.  It’s cheaper, and their scanner is higher-resolution.  Win-win.

My local indie camera store isn’t local, it’s about an hour from my house, but it’s close to my classes.  They’re getting so much business right now that if you drop film off on them unannounced, you might have to wait until the end of the day to get your film back.  Still, I’d rather go there than anywhere else; they know me by name, and they know the definition of the word Scan.  And hey, they sell lenses pretty cheap too, I picked up a wide-angle for my Pentax.  There’s really no need for me to ever go anywhere else.

One more story: A year ago I was going to my cousin’s wedding so I called around Shreveport for a camera store that did film processing.  No luck!  I did have a good conversation with an owner of one of the camera stores, and evidently the drugstore chains back in the early 2000s were undercutting the competition by so much ($1.50 for film processing and scanning?  Wow!) that they drove most of the camera stores in Shreveport out of business and the only ones that survived now only deal with digital photography.  Of course, once they killed the competition, the drugstores drove the prices back up (mine charges $9.50 for processing and scanning).  I wonder how many people they drove to digital by doing this?