Celebrating a century of service to the Waikato

snapshotA 69-year-old family business is bucking Hamilton’s retail trend by moving further into the CBD and upsizing its operation.

Snapshot, bought by the Boswell family in 1946 as a film processing business, has only moved three times in its long history in the city, which dates back to the 1920s.

Owner Graham Boswell said the photography business has outgrown its old premises and, for the first time in 57 years, will be packing up shop so it can shift a few blocks up the road.

The business developed significant confidence in the town centre’s future after closely identifying with Hamilton City Council’s CBD strategy.

Council, together with stakeholders, has effectively been collaboratively shaping how the inner city should develop to best meet the needs of its population as the region gains momentum.

Strategist, First Retail Group, which has been working with the council and Hamilton Central, said the move was a further vote of confidence for Waikato’s commercial heart.

“Snapshot’s strategic approach to location considered a range of options and went into a great deal of depth,” said First Retail Group’s MD, Chris Wilkinson. “The new site leverages a large office, tourist and shopper catchment, which will help the business build on its rich heritage serving the Waikato region for almost a century.”

The new store, at 391 Victoria St, offers three times the floor space and the opportunity to shift the business focus.

The word “cameras” has been dropped from the branding that used to decorate the old site at 226 Victoria St to reflect the business’ move to becoming Hamilton’s photography hub that offers education, printing services, photographic gifts and personalised image decor.

“It’s got to offer an experience and teach people and bring people in to show them what their equipment can do because it’s changing all the time,” says Boswell of the new location.

“That’s what a photographic store of the future needs to be, a photographic destination.”

Along with more space, including a dedicated lecture room, studio, and “chill out” space at the front of the store, the Boswells will also be bringing in state-of-art printing and photographic restoration equipment.

In fact, Boswell’s wife Jill is currently overseas looking at new equipment now that the team will have more room.

Boswell’s son Sam says the expansion of the printing and image decor side of the business will include things like mugs, canvasses, and in-store framing.

There will also be sit down, mobile-friendly kiosks allowing customers to print pictures straight from their smartphones, with the option of doing it all online.

“That’s all running through new, state-of-the-art labs,” says Sam Boswell. Those labs will allow the team to consolidate equipment currently being kept at several different sites for lack of space at the old store.

Image restoration will include not only damaged or faded family photographs, but converting the family tapes to DVD. Better computers will help the team keep up to speed with all the work, he says.

However, that alone will not be enough, and already the team is looking to expand staffing numbers to keep up with all the services on offer. At this stage Graham Boswell says a few part-timers have been hired. But more full time roles could be on the way if all goes well.

And he believes it will. The CBD has been good to Snapshot, says Graham Boswell, and with established businesses like banks and hotels nearby, he is certain the new location “is going to be the ideal area”.

In fact, he undertook customer surveys just to make sure sticking to the CBD was the right option.

“We don’t like shifting very often, and we want to make sure it’s the right shift.”

The new store will open mid-August just in time for world photography day, says Graham Boswell. After that, he’ll have another goal in mind.

“Hopefully this will take us into over 100 [years in business] with the next generation.”


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