ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Furr's Supermarkets will add one-hour photo minilabs to 11 stores, and open its first image center by the end of the year.
The chain introduced its first minilab late last year and has added nine more so far this year.
"We would like to have a one- hour minilab in every store just as soon as we can," said Mario Chavez, director of nonfood at the 74-store chain based here. He believes this will happen in the next couple of years. "It's another convenience that brings people into the store and we want to make sure that when they come to Furr's they can find everything they're looking for." "One-hour film developing is working really good for us and our sales have gradually increased as customers have become more comfortable with the service. They like the convenience and faster developing," Chavez added.
The high visibility that Furr's gives its photo-developing program represents a growing commitment to the category, particularly to finishing services, according to the retailer.
The chain is positioning its one-hour minilabs at the video rental department; the video staff is trained to operate the finishing equipment. Furr's plans to introduce what it calls an image center at an El Paso, Texas, store. The 365-square-foot center will offer expanded and customized photo services that are intended for both grocery shoppers and business clientele.
The image center's photo services will range from one-hour processing to enlargements. It will have a photocopy print center for
making black-and-white and color copies, and a Kodak copy print station where customers can create their own images from prints, negatives and slides.
The chain has been innovative and aggressive in its photo merchandising. For example, for one store's one-hour Express Photo department, Furr's promoted the center's quality Kodalux deluxe finishing with a 50%-off coupon, noted an industry source.
Furr's also prices services of its minilabs only a little above the cost of outside lab work. One-hour processing prices for a 24-exposure roll of color film in single 4-inch prints is $4.99 and $8.99 for double prints; $6.43 for a 36-exposure roll and $12.17 for a second set of prints. Four-inch prints are priced $1 over the cost of its regular overnight developing.
"We offer film at an everyday low price, and people know they can come to our stores and buy it at an everyday low price. It has really worked for us," added Chavez. One hour processing is offered at a lower cost to stimulate interest in the faster developing service and to build a following for the one-hour minilab.
The retailer promotes its photo developing through in-store broadcasts, newspapers, inserts and through an in-store pricing guide.