Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Fotomat! Come on, I know you can picture a spot in your neighborhood where one of them used to stand. (Highland Park, Minnesota...I remember the one in the Lunds parking lot.)

What's there today? Has it been torn down? Is it being used as something else? Drive-up coffee, perhaps? (I can't find any Fotomats on Not Fooling Anybody--can that be right? Were the huts just too small to survive as other businesses?)

When Tommy Chong was on "That 70s Show," his character worked in a Fotomat. It seemed like such a convenient business back in the time when we had rolls of film bouncing around in the car, and were looking for a place to drop them off and get them developed.

Today, of course, most of us have digital cameras or just use our phones to take pictures, no developing needed. What anguish the Fotomat folks must have suffered as this development took hold. But their tiny little huts will always be fondly remembered.

Also, Wikipedia claims they were pioneers in video rental! What? Did anyone ever rent a movie at a Fotomat? Yet another business that soon would be ground into the dust by technological advances. Netflix, anyone?


Anonymous said...

Where did those people go to the bathroom?

Heatherkay said...

There's one in our neighborhood that has been converted to drive-through coffee. I've seen that application a couple of times.


Brian said...

It appears that even Fotomat.com is defunct. I wonder when the last Fotomat closed? Oh well, what do you expect now that they've taken our Kodachrome away...

Don't forget one famed appearance of a Fotomat -- as the site of the launch of the time-traveling DeLorean in "Back to the Future."

metalrob72 said...

We have one that was converted into a drive-thru coffee place. And there are actually still some standing that have been vacant ever since Fotomat went out of business.

Anonymous said...

I WAS a Fotomate! We used a near by business to use bathroom. We worked part-time, if my memory is correct, so we weren't in there that long. Just like sitting at a desk with a cash register and big file drawers behind us with all the pictures that were ready for pick-up! I worked at several different ones in San Diego County and was at a "Key Store" which meant I collected data from other Fotomat stores in the area, motivated the Fotomates to sell film and turned in a report to my corporate manager - which was around Convoy Street in SD. It was a cool job! I still look for little coffee shops or kiosks that might be converted Fotomat stores. :)