One Hour Revolution
London Drugs sold cameras from its early days on Main Street and by 1980, customers knew the store was a go-to place for quality photo equipment. It seemed a natural offshoot to develop the photos taken by London Drugs cameras.
Up until 1980, amateur photographers had to send their film to a developing lab in order to get their pictures. From the customer's perspective, it took days to develop a roll of film. On the horizon was the seed of an idea: by moving photofinishing labs into the store, photos could be ready in a fraction of the time.
London Drugs made a bold move and contacted one of the top manufacturers of photofinishing equipment. London Drugs would work with them to develop the one-hour equipment, and in return, every London Drugs store would provide one-hour photofinishing. It took just three years to put in place, and by 1984, every store provided the one-hour service.
In these early days, the process to develop film quickly and on-site was in its infancy. By providing the trained staff and the experience of printing thousands and thousands of photos, London Drugs has helped fine tune this equipment so that all one-hour photo labs print out a better product.
When digital photography came onto the scene in the 1990s, other retailers saw the end of the one-hour photo lab. Now that customers could print out their own photos, developing film would go the way of vinyl records.
At a time that other retailers were pulling out of the photofinishing market, London Drugs saw an opportunity. If people were taking pictures differently, they would need to print their pictures differently, too. Again, they worked with equipment manufacturers and invested in upgrades that have proven essential in the digital photo revolution.
The new millennium has reaped the benefits of this bold move. With the digitizing of customers' film, the launch of www.londondrugs.com/photolab, and the introduction of digital photo kiosks, London Drugs has been at the forefront of the technical revolution that is changing the face of photofinishing.
The technology of the early 1980s would touch more than just photofinishing. A new department was right around the corner, a department that would have been unfathomable just five years before. It was the beginning of the computer age.