I was told that Costco is phasing out film developing

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by eddy_d, May 11, 2009.

  1. Hey Everyone. I was at costco yesterday getting film developed and one of the clerks in the lab said that some of the costcos have stopped developing film and that they were going to follow suit. I guess the digital war is taking it's toll on emulsions. I don't get good work there anymore. My prints have lines, roller marks and dirt on them and my negatives have scratches on them so maybe that is a sign of the times.
  2. Then I figure it is no great loss. I have 1 place here in my town that does a decent job and that is because the ladies that work there do care and listen.
  3. I have gotten nothing but great service at my local costcos. They pay their people well, replenish/service the machines frequently and I see the same workers for years at a time.
    I am curious if this report about phasing out processing is true.
  4. Hey Josh. I was told by one of the technicians at the photo lab there. I used to get great service at the one in my town when they first opened up. The colors you could not beat. The prcies are still good though. I see the same workers there as well but maybe it could be because of digital and the low numbers of film drop off compared to digital especially when you can order on their website and then walk in pick them up on disc/prints. Digital is also a lot cheaper. I do not have an answer for you.
  5. My take is that some places will; some will not. Thus at place #47 they use a bag service; maybe #756 will have C41 for another few years.
  6. I personally haven't had any film developed at Cosco. I don't even have a membership there. But it's probably like most other places...some of them might stop developing film, but others still do it. The Walmart closest to where I live stopped developing film in-house about a month ago, but it seems like all the other Walmarts in the area still develop film at the photo lab. I know Walmart is a bad example, but I just wanted to say that. Just because one or a couple of Walmarts or Coscos are going to stop developing film, it doesn't mean that they all will. I don't think they make that decision at the corporate headquarters. It seems like it's just up to that individual store to decide. Some develop film, others don't.
    By the way, before this turns into yet another gloom-and-doom thread, I do just want to give some good news. The last time I was in my local camera shop, about 4 days ago, there were 3 people in line ahead of me. ALL of them were buying traditional photography supplies. One lady bought about 6 rolls of film and a pack of B&W photo paper. Another guy bought a pack of 35mm negative storage sheets. One other guy was looking at some lenses, but I noticed that he also had a couple of rolls of film. And I was getting a couple of rolls of Plus-X (and also a slide viewer for the Kodachrome pictures I had just taken recently)
    If anyone doesn't believe me, this is "Empire Camera" in Redlands, California. It's a small shop, but I love that place. I buy my stuff from there sometimes when I don't order from Freestyle.
    In fact, lately I've noticed that more people seem to be coming into that shop, and they are buying film.
  7. ...the digital war...

    There is no war.
  8. I am not suprised. WalMart has done the same thing.
  9. Well I just asked the same question at my local Costco in St. Louis and they said Costco is committed to film processing for another 5 years. Go figure. I have gotten pretty good service there. Often I will take in a developed, uncut roll of 35mm B&W to have them make 4x6 proof prints. Very cheap at less than $5 and the operators are knowledgeable. I think Chris may have it right.
    On the other hand my local post office removed the automated stamp machine today not because people are not using it, but because they can no longer get parts for it! This is becoming the world we live in-you can have any color you want as long as it's either red or blue.
  10. I agree with Josh. I get excellent service for our local Costco (Sacramento, CA).
  11. Around Toronto, it's a warehouse-by-warehouse issue.Although film developing+printing volume is down, so too apparently is overall lab service revenue--whether digital or analog, the print drawers are less than full. I'm told developing will thin but not disappear. No complaints about the quality of developing, prints or scans.
  12. Likewise, the local Costco on my end. Good people, long-term employees, and they are obviously experts, because they say they like my photographs. :)

    I asked them about film processing a few months back, and they said that they had no reason to expect a change any time soon - they still do hundreds of rolls a week.
  13. What is Funny is Walgreen's here has ramped up because the closest Walmart to them is closing the 1 hour and they even forced a new place that used to process E6 and C41 from relocating into the same Strip mall. These are the people who have no problem Xproing my film but then again I hate the fact they kept e6 out.
  14. Digital is also a lot cheaper.​
    No, that's only what the camera manufacturers would like you to believe.
  15. Our local Wal-Mart stopped processing film months ago, but the local Walgreens photo dept. is now very busy with C-41 film processing. I took one in last Saturday for one-hour service and the tech said, "I hope you have more time because there are seventeen ahead of you."
  16. The photo center manager at my Costco location says that they have some threshold of how many rolls per week they develop on a sustained basis that determines whether they continue developing film or not. At this location the business has slightly increased since Target stopped processing film. Despite the revenue from film, the competition is about space so that they can put up displays of digital-based products (books, canvas prints, wraps, mugs, etc.) which they believe will bring in more revenue than film.
  17. If the local Costco shut down their photo lab, I suspect more people in this area would switch to film. It might actually be a good thing for film users because they would be forced to go to Walgreens and see how their film should have been coming out. I'm just kidding of course, but its amazing how different a store can be from one area to the next.
    The lab at Costco nearest to me has rude employees and the prints were consistantly horrible.
  18. Cost Co is a business like any other. If there is not profit margin in it then it will not be an option. Our local CostCo is still processing film but the guy there said it probably will not last as the film end continues to slow down. Our CostCo does a good job processing my pictures but I usually have Mpix.com do it as they have better paper and are more consistent in quality..
  19. I would expect Costco to continue processing film for some while to come, but not to maintain wet labs at every location. Costco's logistics are right up there with Wal*Mart's, possibly better, so they won't have any problem providing very nearly the same service throughout the Seattle area even if they pull the processing equipment back to ten or five or three stores.
    Now if they tried to handle all of Washington and Oregon at one location, I would expect turnaround to suffer. But I would expect that to be some time in coming.
  20. Costco has a unique business model (copied by Sam's Club) and speacializes in high-volume purchasing and purchases, skims high-profit item sales and is, in most places I have seen, located further from most homes than Walgreens, camera stores, etc. This means they benefit more from getting you into the store either twice (if you drop off and come back) or for an hour, if you wait. You are already "all the way out there" so you might as well shop.
    Most other places folks get film processed are close to work or home, so you can just drop off a roll and drop by later to pick it up.
    So I would argue that even if they only break even or less, it is a great loss-leader.
  21. A person behind the counter at my local costco said she thinks they will be developing film for another year. They have no sendout business, so when it's gone it's gone.
    The local walmart stopped developing film months ago, but at least they keep the sendout business alive.
    Walgreen near my home is still developing film.
    I believe there are a couple of pro labs around Salt Lake that still develop film.
  22. ...the digital war...

    There is no war.​
    Bless you, sir!
    Get over it, folks. The masses have gone a different direction and mass retailers have (or soon will) gone with them. Understand this, and help real film businesses solidify.
    Costco will handle film for as long as it benefits their business to do so, and will stop when it doesn't. While film processing may be an acceptable loss-leader to them for now (and I expect that's exactly what it is), as the numbers continue to decline even that business reason will disappear. The simple fact is that film sales and processing are still undergoing retraction and consolidation. I don't think that anyone should be surprised that it's becoming less and less mainstream, but that doesn't mean it's going to disappear.
    I don't have a local Costco, but I wouldn't use them even if I did for the simple reason that my useage won't significantly impact the long term future of processing by that major company or the long term survival of film. Instead, I use (and encourage others to use) specialty shops where my patronage DOES make a difference. Places who share my love of film. Those are the places that I want to see survive. The handful of modest sized businesses who will be come regional or national specialists in film and who will, with our patronage and support, ultimately thrive.
    Forget Costco. Forget K-Mart. Support places like Freestyle, the Slideprinter, Dwayne's (directly!) and so on. Talk up your local/regional lab in forums like this. Help build the new, slimmer, trimmer (and yes, somewhat less convenient, but hey - we're supposed to be the anti-instant gratification crowd!) film infrastructure, rather than hanging on to the old just to save a few dollars in the short term.
    OK . Off my soapbox. :)

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