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Seattle's Prolab Ceases Film Processing


In what owner Roy Robinson calls a refocusing of the company's business lines, ProLab is closing its consumer-oriented Retail, ProZone and Portrait divisions to focus exclusively on commercial, large-format point-of-sale graphics. The retail photo-processing industry has declined substantially because amateur photographers now print at home or get prints from Wal-Mart or Costco, noted Robinson, in explaining the decision.

The company's commercial division, ProLab West, provides image manipulation, prepress, printing, kitting and distributing of large-format digital images to clients such as Restoration Hardware, Smith & Hawken, Tommy Bahama, Costco, Hannah Andersson and Storables.

Although the commercial division will remain at ProLab's headquarters in Seattle, the ProZone, consumer retail and portrait sales counters at that location have been closed. Approximately 25 employees associated with those divisions were laid off.

Other photo labs in the Seattle area are falling victim to the digital age as well. Overlake Photo, formerly in the Overlake Mall in Redmond, Wash., closed its doors in December after 40 years in business. The store's staff numbered 11 at the time of its closing, down from 40 employees in the late 1980s.

In Kirkland, David Hsu is seeking a buyer for his photo-finishing equipment. After owning and running Totem Lake Photo Lab for 15 years, he has decided to close the business.