"Rapid Rise of Fast Photo Processing" - Year?
Here's an article from the NY Times on the explosion of new fast film processing business (read it and weep). Can you guess the publication decade? ( 2008 , 1998, 1988, 1978 or 1968 ) ?
I'm not linking to the article because that would give away the date but you can easily find it by searching for the title on the google
Rapid Rise of Fast Photo Processing
[...] the number of so-called one-hour photo processing shops is growing rapidly nationwide, spawning a fundamental change in the $4.5 billion retail photofinishing industry. And the increasing availability of smaller and cheaper automated film-processing machines is likely to continue the trend, according to people in the industry.
''It's blossoming like crazy,'' said Lydia Wolfman, author of the Wolfman Report on Photographic and Imaging Industry in the United States, an annual publication. ''It's such a convenience for people to drop it off and in one hour get good prints. It's a big part of the industry now.''
Mini-labs now account for a third of the photofinishing industry, and some experts think they will continue to proliferate, capturing about two-thirds of the market. Others think their spread will slow but that more large retailers will add them.
Indeed, the K Mart Corporation equips selected stores with mini-labs. A host of camera shops is beginning to offer mini-lab services. And Moto Photo Inc., a large mini-lab owner and franchiser, is negotiating with a restaurant chain about combining fast prints with fast food. .. the figure had risen to about 14,700 at the end of last year, according to the Photo Marketing Association, which tracks the industry.
In pre-mini-lab days, people would typically take their film to a drugstore, grocery store or camera store and wait several days for their prints. While they waited, the film was delivered to an outside lab, developed en masse with thousands of other rolls and rushed back. 'An Instant-Gratification Society'
In years past, mini-labs had a reputation for low-quality prints. But executives in the industry said quality had improved in recent years. A study of the photofinishing industry, Consumer Reports ranked mini-labs that used chemicals, paper and other accessories sold by the Eastman Kodak Company of Rochester the highest in picture quality. The two chains of one-hour shops that were included in the study, CPI and Fox Photo, finished fifth and 11th, respectively, in a field of 18.
Others in the study included large wholesale photofinishing firms and mini-labs that use other brands of equipment or chemicals. The newer ''washless'' mini-labs that use a dry chemical process finished near the bottom. One-Hour Shops Charge More
One-hour shops generally charge several dollars more to develop a roll of film than the average wholesale operation does. At 1 Hour Foto in Manhattan, customers pay $10.90 for the development of a 24-exposure roll of film and one set of prints. At Mystic Color Lab, a large mail order concern based in Mystic, Conn., the charge is $5.95, although the customer must wait several days.
Owners of one-hour shops said mini-labs could be bought for between $30,000 and $125,000. Most mini-lab manufacturers - the largest include Copal Systems Inc. of Plymouth, Minn.; the Noritsu American Corporation of Buena Park, Calif., and Kodak - also allow people to lease mini-labs. Factors in Profitability
The profitability of each shop depends on many factors - real estate costs, financing costs, labor costs and local competition. But Michael F. Adler, chief executive of Moto Photo, said that under ideal circumstances a shop could remain in the black by processing 25 to 30 rolls a day.
A mini-lab can be operated by one person, but space is a key requirement. Most mini-labs take up between 50 to 60 square feet of floor space. Next-generation mini-labs are likely to be smaller. It is expected that they will eventually fit on a table top and be even easier to operate.