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If You Can’t Beat ‘Em: Polaroid Launches a Fotobar in Florida


Thanks to cell phone cameras, people are taking more photos than ever but the majority of them never make it out of cyberspace. That’s a problem for the pioneers like Kodak and Polaroid who once made their money on film and processing.

Polaroid is trying to take some of that back with a concept they call the Fotobar. It’s all about taking your favorite photos and turning them into works of art. You can do it online and soon, folks in Delray Beach, Florida, will be able to do it in their hometown.

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The Polaroid Fotobar store looks more like an art gallery crossed with a hip internet cafe.

 Every Polaroid Fotobar store will be explicitly designed around the consumer experience, with the goal of helping people release their “trapped” photos and display their cherished memories in the form of premium quality art. Future store locations in 2013 include New York, Las Vegas and Boston among others.

When you enter the store, you can wirelessly transmit photos from your cell phone to a workstation. You can also grab photos from your Facebook, Instagram or other social media platform.

The workstations contain advanced, but easy-to-use software that allows you to correct colors, change brightness, apply filters and generally do cool things with your photos.

Where it really gets crazy is in the printing process. Instead of the usual glossy paper, the Fotobar offers a collection of unique materials including metal, wood, bamboo and acrylic. You really can make a work of art. The only downside is you don’t get to walk away with your prize, it’s mailed to you within days of your visit.

To extend the experience, the new store in Delray Beach will host private parties, photo classes and it will have a portrait studio as well. They’re hoping the store will be more than just an upscale Fotomat. They see it as a recreational activity for friends which makes me wonder if they serve coffee and snacks.

I think the Poloraid Fotobar is a brilliant move. It’s a way to capitalize on what’s happening in the digital world while still playing in to what Poloraid is known for – fast, fun photography. I can see these stores doing well in tourist areas and college towns if the finished products aren’t too pricey.

Now, instead of bringing home a mundane T-shirt from your trip, you can bring home a personalized work of art. That’s a great gift.