Industry Associations and Buying Groups

You don't have to go it alone. You don't have to invent the entire photo retail industry by yourself. There are several organizations that can help you.

Buying groups make sense. Doesn't it stand to reason that a group of 450 stores will be able to negotiate a better price than you, as an independent, can do? Here's what one member said:

"Thanks, *****! I just got my "credit memo" from ******* for my June paper purchases - $ 360.49 !!! wow, I didn't even ask for this. It just came because I am a *** member. This represents a 6.5˘ per foot savings. THANKS !"

Here's what one of the most successful independents in the industry had to say:

"A lot of our long term survival is due to boring bookwork. Using some of the PMA resources, we learned to identify where we are making money and where we spend too much money for our size. We were able to identify a lot of small problems before they became life threatening.

"And by far the most important asset has been our fellow independents.

"I remember visiting a camera store across from the hotel when PMA was in Atlanta. The owner wasn't going to the PMA meeting because he already knew what he was doing.

"They were out of business before the next year's PMA Atlanta show.

"That's why it's so important to participate in great organizations like IPI, PMA, POW and PRO."

Gary Grinnaker
The Photo Express (S. Dakota)

Cooperative buying groups:

Stores which operate a minilab will almost certainly benefit from joining a lab-oriented group such as Town and Country or Independent Photo Imagers. Because of their group strength, they've been able to negotiate special pricing for paper and chemistry that it's tough to match - pricing that will usually more than pay for the cost of membership.

Specialty camera stores without a lab should be members of their local PMA division, Photofair or other local associations. Larger specialty stores may benefit from membership in PRO. 

The Photographic Research Organization (PRO) is extremely strong. Membership is only offered to well-established firms with high sales volume, excellent reputation in the industry, and a willingness to make a substantial investment.

PRO stores are, in general, more hardware oriented than lab oriented. The organization imports its own private-label lenses, flashguns and other accessories. New members must buy an equity share of the corporation.

Web site

IPI.gif (4084 bytes)

"The Co-Operative Organization of Independent Photo Imagers"

Over 800 outlets, predominantly labs and minilabs. When it comes to the free and open exchange of tips and ideas, their Forum on the password-protected sections of the website is worth the price of admission alone. IPI has also developed a true buying cooperative that assures its members of great deals and better-than-average relationships with their preferred vendors.

2510 Anthem Village Parkway, Suite 110
Henderson, NV 89052
Phone: 702-617-1141
Fax: 702-617-1181

Web Site

Chairman of the Board Brian Wood
Vice- Chairman of the Board Kirk Sidley
President Brent Bowyer
Treasurer Bill Eklund

Foto Source of Canada has about 225 member stores

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The oldest cooperative buying group for specialty dealers, the Photofair Stores are primarily located in Northern New Jersey.

The Founders of Photofair banded together right after the second World War to pool their buying power. At that time most were small, "Mom and Pop" stores who might not need three Kodak Retina cameras, but wanted the lower pricing that came with a 3-piece order.

They also found it was advantageous to be friendly with their competitors, so they could exchange merchandise as needed - maybe pick up that needed Kalart Focuspot from the dealer in the next town over.

Over time they found even greater value in the exchange of ideas, as opposed to products. Industry trends were, and are, a topic of discussion at our monthly dinner meetings.

For membership information contact

Jerry Harmen, CPC
Madison Photo Plus

40 Main Street
Madison NJ 07940
Telephone: 973 966-2900

SouthEastern Photo and Imaging Association

Founded in 1992 under the leadership of Gordon Archambault, who brought together a group of associates from the defunct American Fast Photo and Camera franchise.

In 1999, they changed the name from American Fast Photo and Camera Owners Association to SouthEastern Photo and Imaging Association to recognize the expanding base of membership and the changing nature of the business.

Members must have majority control of a retail photo lab located in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Eastern Tennessee, Alabama, or Northern Florida.

Officers and Directors:

Gordon Archambault - President
George Nixon - Vice President
Dean Faile
Paul May
Hugh Flemming

For additional information contact Gordon Archambault at or at (919) 847-4436


Town and Country Photo Dealer Buyers Group

In 2008 Town and Country merged into Independent Photo Imagers

Buck Rogers National Photofinishers Group

This group of photofinishers was created from the merger of two industry organizations:

The Buck Rogers Group was formed in 1923 by a small group of photo industry leaders. Since then, the group has been strongly influenced industry trends.

The National Photofinishers Group was founded in 1963 by a leading group of wholesale photofinishers. As the industry changed, membership in the group evolved to include large and small photofinishers and minilab/camera store operations.

Membership is by invitation only.

For further information contact: Michael Worswick, Wolfe Camera, Topeka KS.

Internet User Groups

There are informal, on-line communities of lab operators who use the same brand equipment and thus share some of the same opportunities and the same frustrations. Go to, type in the name of your photofinishing equipment and you can sign up for a mailing list that will bring you the rants and raves of your professional counterparts.

Professional Association

Foremost among the professional associations is PMA. Nobody offers more training materials, and their annual convention in February or March is a must for anyone in the industry.

3000 Picture Place
Jackson, MI 49201 USA
Phone (517) 788-8100 FAX (517) 788-8371

PRESIDENT Allen Showalter, King Photo, Harrisonburg VA, USA
PRESIDENT-ELECT Rainer Th. Schorcht, Foto Schorcht GmbH, Germany
VICE-PRESIDENT Brian Wood, Photovision, Salem, OR, USA
TREASURER Mark Klostermeyer, Design Frames, LLC, Falls Church, VA, USA
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR/SECRETARY Ted Fox, Photo Marketing Association International, Jackson, MI, USA

About PMA – The Worldwide Community of Imaging Associations
As a professional trade association, PMA helps the worldwide photo imaging community achieve business success and adapt to new technologies. PMA continues its 83-year legacy of connecting photo imaging businesses to a network of knowledge and support.

PMA represents 20,000 members in 100-plus countries who actively contribute to the expanding $83 billion imaging industry. As photo imaging continues to evolve, this association has grown to represent the diversity in imaging: photo retailers and processors, manufacturers, commercial imaging labs, sports and event photography, custom picture frame shops, and scrapbook retailers. PMA is committed to helping these segments increase their profitability and expand their consumer, commercial and industrial markets.

Through the dedication of its membership, the guidance of its board of directors, and willingness of its staff, PMA gives the industry the ability to see, understand, and act on new opportunities. This purpose directs the development of PMA educational programs, business services, marketing research, industry publications, and trade shows. As a nonprofit organization, any success enjoyed by PMA in its endeavors directly benefits the photo imaging industry and allows PMA to provide continual services and activities for members.

Much has changed in the photo imaging industry since PMA first began in 1924. At its inception, what is now PMA was called Photo Finishers Association of America – a group of 273 members started in Iowa by competitors Paul Burgess and T.R. Philips. The purpose of the group, then and today, was to promote the growth of the industry.

In the 1940s, the association took on a new name, the Master Photo Dealers and Finishers’ Association, as the group expanded to include photographic dealers.

The association adopted a new identity in 1974, Photo Marketing Association International, to reflect the importance of marketing photofinishing and retailing services.

In 2006, Photo Marketing Association International became PMA – The Worldwide Community of Imaging Associations to reflect the diversity of its membership, which now includes a range of memory-making entrepreneurs: school photographers, commercial imaging labs, custom frame shops, scrapbook retailers, and sports and event photographers.

An association for manufacturers and distributors is the Photoimaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMDA).