CPI Corporation, the St. Louis-based operator of over 2,000 Sears Portrait Studios, PictureMe Studios in Walmart and Toys R Us portrait studios abruptly closed all studios nationwide.
Blaming the Digital trend as they do is just an excuse not to take the responsibility for having been stuck with an ailing business model in the face of the modernization of the Photography industry that rapidly evolves as consumers are taking charge.
While a whole host of specialized high-quality vendors were beginning to command this very personal Photography industry branch - Consumer Photography, CPI was still bundling services from "good enough" providers.
At the production point, the photographer on duty could be bad at handling kids or didn't know how to pose pregnant women. The backdrops and props were outdated.
At post production, there were problems with cropping for framing, forget about editing out stretch marks, fixing awkward smile, or skin retouching.
Printing took weeks and months instead of the promised 72 hours.
This is why consumers chose to beat feet the hell out of Sears Portrait. They had options. There are plenty of specialized photographers to choose from and who will come to you to take pictures in your natural environment. Then you can submit your photos online (professional or amateur) to companies like PhotoHand.com to get professional grade photo editing for the price of a Starbucks coffee.
As for online printers, there are gazillions to choose from offering everything - from plain prints to photo books to photo blankets and photo cake tops. Even professional grade printers like NationsPhotoLab are beginning to serve amateurs.
Lesson learned: Don't mess with empowered consumers!
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