Polaroid plans to open new retail stores this year focused on getting people to print and edit the photos saved on their smartphone, or from social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Picasa.

The first ‘Polaroid Fotobar’ store, which is set to open in Florida USA next month, will allow in-store customers to wirelessly transmit the images stored on their smartphone or tablet to a bar-top workstation. From here, the photos can be edited to fix red-eye or alter the contrast and brightness. A number of filters will also be available if they haven’t done so already using an app such as Snapseed or Instagram.

Polaroid Fotobar Store

Photos can also be uploaded from social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Picasa and “several others”. Although the latter haven’t been revealed by Polaroid yet, it would be great if they included Flickr and 500px.

Once the images have been chosen, users can then have the image printed in a number of different materials and substrates including metal, wood and bamboo, as well as choose from various framing options.

The idea is to make the digital and often forgettable images stored on your smartphone feel like works of art again; something which you would want to share with friends or hang in your house or office. The key to this concept is the ability to easily print from your smartphone, following in the historical “instantaneous” printing which made Polaroid so successful.

Polaroid Fotobar store 2

Polaroid CEO and president Scott W. Hardy said:

“Polaroid is about sharing life’s most precious and memorable moments. We have been, and continue to be, about self-expression, creativity and fun. Polaroid Fotobar retail stores represent a perfect modern expression of the values for which we have stood for 75 years.”

Polaroid promises that any ordered prints will be handcrafted and shipped from their manufacturing facility within 72 hours. The store itself will also have a photo gallery of “creative, museum-quality pieces” designed to inspire customers and make them feel like they’re in a real photography studio.

In my opinion this is an excellent concept and one that will be very successful. With the continued resurgence in vintage styling and the massive growth of smartphones this is a sure bet. I would love to see a concept like this launch in South Africa…