If you're looking for an affordable photographer for your next family portrait, you may be wondering what happened to the Kmart photo studios. Although these studios once provided the store's most popular service, changing market conditions resulted in the closing of all Kmart photo studio locations in 2012 and 2013.
A Brief History of Olan Mills
All of the Kmart photo studios were owned and operated by Olan Mills, a photography company first established in 1932 by former real estate salesman Olan Mills Sr. and his wife, Mary. In 2011 Olan Mills was acquired by Lifetouch, Inc. The acquisition included the company's studio photography business inside Kmart, Meijer, Belk, and Macy's stores as well as its production facilities in Chattanooga and its church directory business. At the time of the acquisition, it was estimated that 60% of Olan Mills' business came from its church directory division.
Lifetouch closed the Olan Mills production facilities in 2012, resulting in a loss of 383 jobs. At the time of the closure Lifetouch stated the move was necessary to consolidate services and make efficient use of available resources. The majority of Olan Mills studio locations, including those that were inside Kmart stores, were closed by mid-2013.
Olan Mills studios that did not close are now doing business as Flash Digital Portraits. The renamed company offers many of the same services as the Olan Mills locations formerly inside Kmart stores. You can visit the Flash Digital Portraits website to search for a studio location in your area, schedule a session, or sign up for coupons and other money-saving offers.
Ordering Prints Online
If you're a former Kmart photo studio customer, the original files from your portrait session should still be available. Even though Olan Mills has closed its Kmart locations, past customers can order reprints of their favorite pictures on the Olan Mills website. To log in, you will need to provide your email address and account password.
Other Low Priced Photo Options
The closure of Kmart photo studio locations can be attributed to the rise in the popularity of digital photography as a hobby and the dropping prices on quality camera equipment. Many people who would otherwise schedule a session at their local Kmart store are turning to a DIY approach to preserving their favorite family memories. Shortly after Kmart's Olan Mills photo studios closed, Sears Portrait Studios and the PictureMe studios located inside many Walmart stores also shut their doors.
However, if you're still in need of affordable family photos and don't want to take the images yourself, there are other options to consider.
- JC Penney Portrait Studios offer economical picture packages as well as money saving special offers throughout the year. You can even order your images printed on gift items such as coffee mugs, coasters, and tote bags.
- Picture People is another low-priced photography alternative. They offer a Portrait Rewards Club membership designed to help you save money on repeat visits, which is perfect for parents of young children who want to document their growth on a regular basis.
- Portrait Innovations has over 200 studio locations through the United States. Visit their website to schedule a session online and to view the various photo gift products the company offers.
Memories That Last a Lifetime
Although Kmart photo studios are no longer in business, consumers still have access to a number of affordable photo alternatives. With so many photography options available, there's no excuse not to preserve your favorite memories with a special family photo!