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    "Kodak Stations" Launched

    Convenience stores represent 25 percent of Atlanta market test.

    ATLANTA -- Retailers looking to expand their range of in-store services take heed. The Eastman Kodak Co. is testing consumer demand for digital camera printing stations. If the pilot is successful, the film and photography services company will be looking for a host of retail outlets to install its concept.

    The company has installed about 500 of the printing stations in the metro Atlanta area as part of the nine-month test. The results of the test will determine how the technology will be marketed throughout the rest of the nation next year, said Bernie Perrine, vice president of the company's consumer imaging division, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

    Retail Merchandiser, a sister publication of Convenience Store News, identified photo developing and digital printing services as one of the hot trends at mass merchandisers such as Kmart and Wal-Mart. Convenience store chains have been slow to implement these services primarily because of the investment needed in the equipment, the cost of upkeep and increased labor that would be needed.

    But on the surface, the Kodak kiosks appear to be a lower-cost alternative that would allow stores to partner with Kodak, which would reduce the capital investment required and insure proper training. Plus, they are not labor intensive. The stations provide equipment that allows people to edit and print photographs from digital cameras or to order prints from the company.

    Currently, about 25 percent of the stations are being rolled out to multiple convenience stores. Approximately 50 percent of the printing stations are being installed at photo specialty stores, grocery stores, drug stores and retail outlets, such as stores owned by CVS Corp., Eckerd Corp., Kmart Corp., The Kroger Co., Publix Super Markets Inc. and Target Corp. stores. Another 25 percent are being installed in electronics stores such as those owned by Best Buy Co., Circuit City Stores Inc., Comp USA Inc. and Staples Inc.

    Kodak estimates that 20 percent of the people in the nation will own digital cameras by the end of the year and that products and services related to the technology will reach $385 billion this year.

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