After finding success with retro designs for its cameras, Fujifilm decided to try selling them the old fashioned way, too, with a brick-and-mortar store. After one year, it’s still standing.
There aren’t nearly as many brick and mortar camera stores as there used to be, but that hasn’t stopped Fujifilm from trying to build a noteworthy retail presence. One year ago, the company opened its first U.S.-based retail store, the Wonder Photo Shop. Located in New York’s historic Flatiron District, the store sought to ignite a “photographic renaissance” through hands-on interaction with digital and instant cameras and mobile printing. We covered the launch of that store last year, and now Fujifilm is hosting its first anniversary, representing the culmination of an apparently successful opening year in which the store hosted some 83,000 guests, according to the company.
The celebration officially begins on Saturday, July 22, and runs through Sunday, July 23. On each day, Fujifilm will give away an Instax Mini 9 instant camera every hour, but you’ll need to visit the store in person to enter to win. The Mini 9 is the latest Instax camera (although, not the line-topping model) and includes a built-in “selfie mirror” to more easily snap instant pictures of you with your friends (which, of course, is what Fujifilm is hoping you’ll do at the store should you win a camera).
New York’s Wonder Photo Shop is just one of several around the world, joined by stores in Barcelona, Spain; Bogota, Columbia; Istanbul, Turkey; Auckland, New Zealand; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Tokyo and Shanghai. Despite being the newest, the New York store has become Fujifilm’s flagship location. It invites guests to experience the “rebirth of the joy of photography,” as Fujifilm calls it, through product demos, classes, and exhibitions. Store employees and guest presenters conduct lectures from the store’s “DIY lounge,” and visitors can offer feedback and share their ideas, leading a two-way exchange of information that, in theory, benefits both the brand and its customers.
Fujifilm isn’t the only camera company to try its hand at a retail operation. Leica operates many stores in cities around the world and also has “Leica boutiques” which act as curated spaces dedicated to Leica products within independent retail stores. While Leica’s approach is a bit more, well, German, Fujifilm seems intent on embracing the fun side of photography. The Wonder Photo Shop even has a photo booth complete with backgrounds and props where guests can ham it up like your drunk uncle at your wedding.
The Wonder Photo Shop isn’t just a place to sell cameras, then, but also gives Fujifilm a place to carefully craft its image and gauge the market through direct interaction with customers. In addition to the Instax camera giveaways on July 22 and 23, the store is running a series of specials and promotions throughout the month. Follow the store on Instagram or, if you’re in the New York area, stop by in person at 176 Fifth Avenue.