Prof. Bloodgood 

Chapter Two

This studio at a major amusement park cannot possibly handle all the crowds that thunder past its door. However, the dollars per square foot that do generate from this small site are well worth the space allotted. And the park is benefited by the intangible entertainment value of a free show.

LOCATING WITH NET SALES IN MIND

The original title of this chapter in 1974 was ?Locating with Gross Sales in Mind?. That is no longer valid, if it ever was. You must consider the entire bottom line, NET profit potential if you plan on taking any money home with you in today?s market.

For better or for worse, the old time photo is a labor-intensive business. It is about handcrafting, one at a time, a unique product for each customer. The good news is:

This manufacturing job can never be exported offshore.

The bad news is:

After all these years it still takes 15 minutes to do an old time photo.

RENT AND TRAFFIC

Because time is money in any business, it is always important to judge a prospective location on the number of hours of good prime time business in a given week. Beyond that, old time photographers need to consider the quantity of possible customers as well as the quality of likely customers. There are four operative words here ? quantity, quality, possible and likely. It does only so much good to have thousands of qualified customers passing your door each hour because you can?t possibly serve them all.

There is a limit to the number of sittings any studio can do during the daily hours of operation. So if you?re facing the prospect of paying extremely high rents to be in the middle of Times Square, you had better think again. As most commercial rents are figured on a square foot basis, you?d probably have to operate in a 1 square foot studio to justify Times Square rents, and you would have to print a picture every 2 seconds. So far, technology has not made this possible. On the other hand, every hour you spend in a low rent district twiddling your thumbs and waiting for the next likely customer is wasteful of your time, money and talent.

The average tourist town can support only one old time photographer comfortably. A second studio in town just slices the pie in half. Visit such places and then go find your own town. The same holds true for most fairs and events.

However, a huge tourist mecca that already supports three or more old time photo studios, and has become a ?destination? for the product, is another story. There may be no limit to the number of studios that can operate there with a modicum of success. Warning: Before opening up in Gatlinburg, TN, Virginia City, NV or Myrtle Beach SC, make sure you get a favorable rent deal (location vs size vs visibility) and that you are well practiced in the craftsmanship of the business.

The rule to remember is that one customer begets another. It takes work to overcome inertia enticing the first lone customer off the street, but once you do, the momentum of seeing others having a good time will bring a flow of customers into your line automatically. That is, if your location has the right quantity of likely prospects passing by and is visible enough to be seen...more
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