Diapers and Pictures

By on November 13, 2004

I’ve been a Sam’s Club member for a while. My dog food comes in 50-pound bags. I only buy toilet paper about twice a year. All good things.

I really started using the membership when our local Sam’s Club got a 1-Hour Photo center, and I got a digital camera. At 18 cents for a 4×6 print, it’s almost cheaper than the ink required to print at home. Plus, the photo staff at the store has never screwed up my pictures, and have never taken the full hour they’ve allowed themselves, even if it’s very busy. (Our Wal-Mart, with the same equipment, replaces the word ‘never’ in that last sentence with ‘always’).

There are two (minor) problems with getting pictures at Sam’s Club (OK, three, counting the door nazi. What’s with that? Is there secret stuff in there non-members can’t see?). The first is the kiosk machines. They have an easy-to-use kiosk machine that allows you to get the pictures straight from your memory card, or even scan them in. The problem occurs when some insensitive clod monopolizes the machine for two hours meticulously cropping and color-correcting every photo they took on their 3-month stay in Europe. I do my editing at home. I just need to put the card in, hit ‘Print All’, and go get diapers.

Which brings us to the second problem. All I ever need in that place is diapers. I’ve still got 20 pounds of dog food left, and I bought toilet paper only 4 months ago, so I’m good there too. Getting diapers takes 3 minutes. I now have at least a half hour to kill. A scan through the yard stuff, the TV’s and the computer games leaves me with another twenty minutes dealing with a bored child.

Recently, Sam’s Club solved both of these problems. One Hour Photo Over The Web. YES! This is a brilliant bit of work that solves so many problems. I can go in, get my diapers, and pick up my pictures, which will already be done. The photo counter folks will usually even ring up the diapers.

This also solves the problem that I (and I’m sure many of you) have with regards to explaining to relatives how to use the camera card to get pictures off of the home PC and down to the store.

This is the mark that other photo services should shoot for. The Sam’s/Wal-Mart system is by no means perfect, but the ability to send the prints off and pick them up in an hour is a huge step forward.



  1. Ritz has been doing the same thing for over a year now. They promise 4 hr service, but in my experience it’s been in the 2 hr range. The feature I like best is being able to have them print out in Tulsa (where my folks live, I’m in San Diego) and when mom picks them up they’re already paid for (ok, she’s the one who likes that part)

    It will email me and optionally a recipient when they’re ready for pickup.

    Not as cheap as Sams, but in her case, definitely more convenient.

  2. I told my wife about this, so we gave it a test drive the other day; ordered two copies of one photo (a whopping 38 cents) and she’s hooked. We’ve also ordered photos through Harold’s Photo — http://www.haroldsphoto.com/ they have a similar service, but slightly more expensive — but couldn’t get the wife too excited about that. She makes a regular trip to Sam’s though, plus we just bought a digital camera, so I think they’ll make some money from us.

    I hadn’t thought of the remote pickup thing that Kevin mentioned; that’s a great idea.

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