REINVENTING THE DEAL
On Saturday morning, a day before the fatal winds and rains of Hurricane Katrina were designated a Category 5, David Guidry was holding his regular weekly meeting with the staff at Lakeside Camera and Imaging, his photo specialty business in Jefferson Parish, a suburb of New Orleans. He told his salespeople he planned to ride this storm out. It seemed a plausible idea at the time. After all, the store had roll-down steel shutters installed long before to protect the place from the rowdy patrons of a nightclub just around the corner, and the place had withstood many seasons of hurricane threats and storms that had blown through the bayous before.
Twenty-four hours later, however, Guidry and his staff were packing up their families, a few possessions, and their hopes of business ever being the same. “We evacuated on Sunday and the hurricane hit Monday morning,” remembers Guidry. “I made it to a Holiday Inn in Houston with my wife, baby, grandmother, mother, brother and his wife. We were all squeezed in there, not knowing if anything would be left when we returned. It was tough...it was a bad deal.”
The horrifically bad implications of Katrina’s floodwaters did, in fact, include the devastation of the Lakeside store as well as the destruction of thousands of customers’ homes. It forced Guidry, like all residents of greater New Orleans, to think hard about whether or not there was a way to make a life, much less make a living, in the storm’s wake. But Katrina’s damage also gave Guidry an opportunity retailers seldom encounter: a chance to reimagine and rebuild his business from scratch, with insurance money as venture capital. Guidry’s conceptual decisions and store designs for the new operation, renamed Lakeside Camera Photoworks, are a first look at what some industry watchers believe will be the future of digital imaging retail, an invent-your-own-products-and-market-them-too business model.