Polaroid’s time in the spotlight may be long gone, but its name is still synonymous with film photography (and, to some extent, as a proxy of Instagram). While that’s unlikely to change in the coming future—it might!—the company is looking to recapture part of its heyday, no matter how little, by introducing experiential retail stores focused on printing smartphone photos. And not much else.
The company said it’s going to use CES 2013 as its jumping off point, with an end-game to “easily liberate their favorite images from the confines of their digital devices and turn them into museum-quality art.” Basically, the Polaroid Fotobar stores, as they’re being referred to, will act as glorified printing shops—similar to what you’d find in a CVS or Walgreens.
“These cool, hip, experiential stores will make the process of turning peoples’ best pictures into cherished pieces of art both rewarding and fun,” said Fotobar CEO, Warren Struhl. “Even the very best of those pictures 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.” Duh, Fotobar is going to change that.
In all, Polaroid hopes to open up ten different locations in 2013, starting with a 2,000 square-foot spread in Delray Beach, Florida. Other future spots may include New York, Las Vegas and Boston.
“Polaroid Fotobar retail stores represent a perfect modern expression of the values for which we have stood for 75 years,” Struhl said.
At the stores themselves, experienced “Phototenders” will help consumers release “trapped” photos from their digital devices, and then print them out. Editing options will be available, as well access to social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Picasa. Framing options are available as well, along with substrates such as canvas, metal, acrylic, wood and bamboo. Fancy.
Polaroid’s name is still somewhat relevant in the photo world, but is it enough to merit full-on printing stores? Maybe. We’ll see.