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N.C. newspaper offers photos from past through kiosk

By Marcelo Duran
Associate Editor

The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer is now in the business of selling nostalgic images depicting the life and times of the city it covers.

The Observer and Fotozoomer Enterprises Inc. created a partnership to offer readers an opportunity to purchase prints stored in the newspaper’s archive photo collection. The Observer is the first paper to deploy Fotozoomer’s technology, which was introduced to the newspaper industry at this year’s Nexpo/SuperConference.

Twelve Fotozoomer kiosks are set throughout Charlotte, N.C. Users are able to print poster-sized images up to 24-by-26 inches, and standard-sized prints.
Photos: Fotozoomer

The Charlotte Observer is offering a $10 Fotozoomer kiosk gift certificate to new subscribers.

In a test project launched in October, The Observer began offering historic photos via 12 Fotozoomer-equipped kiosks located in retail stores throughout Charlotte. Fotozoomer software lets users enlarge the “Charlotte Observer Photo Collection” prints to as much as 24-by-36 inches and also add borders, text and other graphics.

The kiosks are located in art and frame shops, camera and photo finishing stores and other hobby shops.

“We are excited about this opportunity to join with Fotozoomer Enterprises to promote our photo collection to the community,” said Peter Vandevanter, vice president of new ventures at The Charlotte Observer. “It is another example of how we are reaching out and connecting with our readers, as well as searching for innovative sources of revenue.”

Vandevanter said The Observer was comfortable participating with Fotozoomer since the newspaper had a previous relationship with Fotozoomer’s parent company, Graphic Enterprises Inc., for a number of years.

“Retail vendors are impressed with the quality of the prints,” he said. “Customers are impressed with the user-friendly nature of the kiosk, especially when cropping photographs.”

The kiosks are also being showcased at special events in the area, such as the Southern Woman’s Show. There are plans to feature the photo collection at two more events being planned this year.

Fotozoomer’s kiosks comprise a 19-inch touchscreen, flatbed scanner, multi-image input unit - which allows users to print images from CDs, flash cards and a number of other media - an Epson Stylus Pro inkjet printer and a receipt/coupon printer.

Kiosk software allows users to adjust an image’s size prior to printing. Users can crop, rotate, control contrast, add text and add frames and borders to their pictures.


Full court press campaign

Using the photo collection as a lure to woo new subscribers, The Observer and Fotozoomer are spreading the word about the historic archives.

New subscribers receive a $10 gift certificate, redeemable on any Fotozoomer print of their choice, for signing up for a minimum 10-week trial subscription.

Current subscribers, meanwhile, receive a 15 percent discount off the regular retail price of a photo collection print as part of the newspaper’s loyalty program. Charlotte-area retailers say the kiosks are drawing interest.

“We are seeing good interest at our store,” said Lolly Sablack, manager of Frame Shop at Carolina Pottery in nearby Fort Mill, S.C. “We have been able to add value to the sale by providing services such as mounting or custom matting and framing.”

The Fotozoomer kiosks also help The Observer promote its Newspapers In Education program. After purchasing a print, consumers can fill in a short form, attach the receipt and designate which Charlotte-area K-12 school should receive a donation, valued at 10 percent of the purchased print’s retail price.

“Our partnership with Fotozoomer Enterprises should strengthen and reinforce our brand in the community and assist in gaining new subscriptions,” said Jim Banbury, The Observer’s vice president of promotions.

Fotozoomer has created a Web site,, which has the complete Charlotte Observer photo collection and information on where consumers can purchase the prints.