Polaroid cameras were the ultimate in convenience, he said, and “anything other than that is a step backwards.”
But as customers began to file in, there was no sign of discontent. Among the first to take a seat at the Fotobar was Jami Bloch, 12, who was uploading photos from her Facebook and Instagram accounts. She frequently takes photos on her iPhone but never has them printed.
“You can actually like see them,” she said of the prints, “it's actually like real.”
Besides offering a sleek, sparkling white atmosphere, the store also has a studio that will offer free classes, host parties and allow customers to come in for portraits with local photographers. Struhl says he's negotiating at least 10 leases for other Fotobar sites and expects new locations may open elsewhere in Florida, in New York, Boston and Las Vegas, in the next year.
Customers can also find refurbished Polaroid cameras selling for $159.95 and eight-packs of film for $29.95.
Polaroid itself, which pioneered instant photography, ultimately went bankrupt and doesn't produce its iconic cameras or film anymore. Film compatible with old Polaroid cameras is now manufactured by The Impossible Project. Polaroid is paid for the use of its name on the stores through a licensing agreement. Fotobar is owned by Struhl and other investors.
Fotobar faces competition from chain drugstores and other retail sites that allow customers to print their digital pictures, not to mention an array of websites that will deliver prints without someone ever having to leave their computer.
Struhl insists Fotobar is different, though.
“Four-by-six prints are available lots of places,” he said. “We're the only place that makes Polaroids.”