Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Polaroid Fotobars at Westfield Oakridge & Valley Fair

The other day I was contacted by a Polariod Fotobar rep wanting to let us know that they had opened “micro-stores” (giant interactive kiosks) at Westfield Oakridge (and now, Westfield Valley Fair.) During your holiday shopping you may have seen them or event sat down and you’ve already experienced them. But if not.. if the crowds were just too much, you have plenty of time to still check them out because they are PERMANENT additions to the malls.

So, I love photography. You may have seen some of my stuff here and there, maybe visited First to Market when I had my photography up (or even in the SPUR office window a few years ago!) so I felt pretty connected to this and wanted to check it out. Especially now that the holidays were over and the malls are back to being just moderately insane again.

I was set up with a meeting with “Fototender” Cory who was super helpful. He showed me all the products you can buy; trendy, colorful shadow  boxes, “rustic”-style or glass and metal prints for a snazzier upscale or even commercial use, and all the neato photo-related holders you could ever want.

The weekend I went, they were holding a promo for 6 free prints. Their standard prints (the size of a Polaroid!) are just $1. They’re printed on a thicker cardboard stock, which makes me feel like they will last for awhile.

Much to my surprise, Team Polaroid hooked me up with some complementary goods. So I sat down and Cory showed me the super easy process to get my photos printed.

First you create a quick account and immediately get the choice to upload from various sites (Flickr, Instagram, Facebook) or direct from your phone. I opted for my phone only as it would have taken me FOREVER to choose photos from my Flickr account. Plus my phone has all the most recent photos and a few favorite older ones saved on it.

After you create an account and provide your cell number to get a link texted to your phone. From there, I easily chose what photos I wanted to upload. The photos will appear in front of you on the computer you’re using. Magic.

From there you can adjust the placement and framing. Go old school with the square format with the thicker bottom border in either portrait or landscape. Or use all the available space and have an equal, thin border.

I noticed one of my photos was a little dark and while the screen said I could do effects/edit - Cory told me that the option had significantly slowed the computers so they had to remove that feature. Kind of a bummer, but at the same time I bet it cut down on how long people sat at the computers. So that said - adjust your photos before you upload!

Once you’ve uploaded and paid for your goods, you take your receipt and hit the mall! Go browse the stores, eat lunch, drink some coffee, whatever else you find fun at the mall to do - go do it. After your prints are done, you will get a text (or email) noting they are ready for pickup. I was told that on average, a small batch of about six photos took around 15 minutes to print. Obviously this would be if there are only a moderate amount of orders ahead of yours and not a super large amounts.

I decided to go with a couple of their black shadow boxes. Black goes with everything, right? These shadow boxes have a metal panel in the middle. All you do is adhere a Polaroid-shaped flat magnet to the back of your photo and plop that sucker into the frame. Voila!

Ok this is where I admit, I probably should have chosen a bunch of San Jose-themed photos for this post right? BUT, right now on my phone it’s full of either photos of my daughter and husband or food photos. So, you get to see those photos instead. But just imagine your own pics of awesome San Jose - easily printed out, slapped into these frames, and displayed.

Maybe you run a local coffee shop and want to include some photos of those super neato latte designs you’ve been creating? Here you go!

Or invite your customers to share their prints with you and you can create a little display. For $1 per print, that’s some really easy customer-love you could provide.

There’s a quote from the press release I was provided that I found interesting…

"Over one billion pictures are taken every day, and Polaroid Fotobar is a fun, easy way to take them from your Facebook timeline to your wall at home," said Warren Struhl, the company's founder and chief executive officer.  “Polaroid Fotobar is all about recapturing the magic and instant gratification of creating cherished pieces of art with your pictures."

It’s true. We’re in such an Instagrammy-Facebooky-world that most of our photos don’t make it off our phones/accounts as often, and thanks to the retro-fun that Polaroid is providing, we can do that for an affordable amount.

And you don’t *have* to go to the mall to print these, you can do it from home and have them shipped, of course. But that might take some of the fun out of it!

I think I might create a little San Jose-related project from this… the hamster is awake and the wheels are turning...

Hey look, it's ME!

Polaroid Fotobar Info:

Westfield Oakridge:
Located near the food court next to Jamba Juice
Monday-Thursday, 10am - 9pm
Friday & Saturday, 10am - 10pm
Sunday, 11am - 7:30pm
Westfield Valley Fair:
Located on Level Two next to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Monday-Friday, 10am - 9:30pm
Saturday 10am - 9pm
Sunday 11am - 7pm


  1. Replies
    1. I don't think so. I saw some Impossible film, but they didn't have any SX-70 on display. To the interwebz you must go!