Polaroid to open cellphone photo shops

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 3, 2013 - 9:20 PM

Fotobar users can order printed versions of their snapshots.

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The 2,000-square-foot Delray Beach, Fla., store will be Fotobar’s first.

Instant-photography pioneer Polaroid, its fame and riches overwhelmed for years by digital photography, will soon open several stores around the country where consumers can turn cellphone snapshots into printed images.

The Minnetonka-based company said Thursday that it will open at least 10 Polaroid Fotobar stores this year in an effort to capitalize on humanity's ever-growing penchant for taking photos.

Warren Struhl, founder and CEO of Polaroid Fotobar, said in a statement announcing the move that there are around 1.5 billion pictures taken every day, a number that is growing along with the quality of cameras in phones.

"Unfortunately, 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," Struhl said. "Why? Because turning those pictures into something tangible, creative and permanent is neither easy nor fun."

The first of the Fotobars will open in February in Delray Beach, Fla. Other stores are planned for New York, Las Vegas and Boston. Polaroid has yet to release a full list, and there is no indication whether there will be one in the Twin Cities.

Polaroid said Fotobar customers will transmit photos from their phones wirelessly to a bar-top workstation for immediate ordering. Photos can also be uploaded from Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites.

The Delray Beach location will also host photo classes, private parties and include a studio for portraits.

In 2005, Tom Petters spent $426 million for Polaroid, one of the legitimate businesses that was under his umbrella while his mammoth Ponzi scheme unraveled and landed him in federal prison.

Polaroid was then sold to a joint venture of Hilco Consumer Capital of Toronto and Gordon Brothers Brands in Boston for $85.9 million.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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