Back by the sales counter, an entire wall is reserved for customer contests, which, with themes like “Things That Make Me Smile” or “Up Close and Personal,” happen three times a year. Hundreds of amateurs regularly submit their best shots, hoping to win photo equipment or gift certificates, but also enjoying the opportunity to have their work exhibited in a public place. Dan’s caters to professional photographers looking for more exposure as well, with a “Pro’s On Display” program that rents out a few square feet of wall space behind the cash registers. “We’ll charge them just $30 for sixty days, but they get a pack of promo cards and a link on our Web site too,” says Woodland. “It’s a great way for them to get more business. We’re always sold out.”
Just as a school library may have “learning centers” with comfortable places for kids to read or play educational games on the computer, Dan’s retail space is also outfitted with an intricately-designed “Digiprint Lounge”, a room set-apart within the store where customers can sit down, get a drink, sign in at their own computer station, and work on editing their images and ordering prints. Lighting is subdued in the lounge, there’s a purse hook by each of 13 ordering stations, and a corner area is set aside with a train table for the children. There are even a couple of Todd Oldham La-Z-Boy chairs in there. “One guy did fall asleep while his wife was ordering,” says Woodland.
On a weekday afternoon in late August, the DigiPrint lounge was presided over by 59-year-old Bonnie Seifert, a retired nurse and long-time Dan’s customer who was hired two years ago to work as, essentially, a high-tech hostess. “Oh, we have fun in the Lounge,” says Seifert. “People show me their photos, and I help them with their orders. We talk and have coffee. People sometimes say to me, ‘What time is lunch?’”