Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

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Fox-Stanley Photo Products, Inc. - Lehman Brothers Collection

Fox-Stanley Photo Products, Inc.

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Fox-Stanley Photo Products, Inc., was founded in Texas in 1936. The company's business consisted of processing and printing color and black-and-white photographic film for dealers, mail order customers, and customers of its retail outlets; retail and wholesale sales of photographic equipment and supplies; and the sale of specialized photographic equipment and supplies for industrial, graphic arts, and visual education applications. Operating as a wholesale as well as a retail business, the company processed all popular types and sizes of color film, including 8mm and 16mm Kodachrome movie film and 35 mm and other size Kodachrome, Ektachrome, and Anscochrome transparencies. The company held nonexclusive, non-transferable paid-up licenses from Eastman Kodak to process Kodak film. Mail order customers, located across the country, were solicited via newspaper and magazine advertising and promotional mailings. The mail order business operated under the Owl Photo, Ball Photo, and Fox Photo names.

In the late 1960s the distribution of the company's business was accounted for as follows: 52 percent by photographic processing and printing; 21 percent by sales by retail outlets; 16 percent by wholesale sales of photographic equipment and supplies; and the remaining 11 percent by other related activities.

The company expanded while headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, and by the early 1970s it operated close to two dozen photo-finishing plants and fifty retail outlets across the United States. The company had purchased a total of nine photo-finishing businesses and one company operating a retail store selling photographic equipment and supplies since 1964.

Photo finishing as a business was furthered over the years by the vast improvements in photographic technology. Eastman Kodak's line of Instamatic cameras, along with its newly developed 126 film type that was loaded and unloaded in cartridge form, not only simplified picture taking for the amateur photographer, but also contributed to a more highly developed and more uniform level of overall picture quality. The convenience and fine quality of Kodak products resulted in brisk sales and caused the average consumer to take photos more often. Increase in film usage was also attributed to Sylvania's introduction of flashcubes enabling pictures to be taken in rapid succession. Any time new products or technologies were developed, there was a predictable increase in the number of rolls of film being processed. There was considerable competition in the film-processing business, which is essentially a service business. Many regional and local processors competed with Fox-Stanley, and its retail outlets experienced strong competition from independent and chain, drug, department, and discount stores in sales of photo-finishing services and supplies. Eastman-Kodak was a principal competitor for the company in color film processing. Polaroid-type cameras with self-contained processing and printing features became a popular and important development in amateur photography, but they did not adversely affect the growth of the company.

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