Photographers Unite: Boycott Walgreens

Yesterday, September 14, 2013, in Des Plaines, IL, I began my Walgreens boycott.

Will Walgreens New Film Development Policy Kill U.S. Photography?

I strolled into the Des Plaines, IL Walgreens on Northwest Highway hoping to get a 35mm roll of film developed in an hour.  I really wanted to see how much Walgreens had jacked up their film development prices since I last visited.

Walgreens Price Increases from 5-8-12 Dollars

Since I began collecting old cameras and shooting them (perhaps 3 years), I began visiting Walgreens regularly to get my film developed and burned to a CD.  Originally it cost 5 dollars and then 6 dollars.

Then I started visiting Costco to develop my film.

I returned to Walgreens to shop and hoped to drop off my film.  The price had jumped to 8 dollars to develop a roll of film and burn to a CD.  But I sometimes found cheap film at $2 a roll.  I kept coming back for film supplies.

Yesterday, visiting the Des Plaines, IL Walgreens store the photo clerk told me it would cost $11.99 to develop film, it would be processed in “days”, and I would receive digital images online.  I asked about getting my negatives and the nice store clerk (he was nice) said I wouldn’t get them.

I began telling the clerk this was an outrageous price increase for a decrease in service.  He looked pleasantly amused.  (A relatively old bald guy was lecturing him on photography and threatening a boycott).  I said:

Don’t take it personally.  This is about you, you don’t make Walgreens policy.  I’ll protest Walgreens on my camera blog and hope that Walgreens changes its film development policies.

8541 Walgreens Stores in U.S. – Just me to Boycott

I’ll take those odds.  As of June 30, 2013, Walgreens has 8541 stores in the U.S.  Walgreens price increases on film development and their most recent price increase with a service decrease (they raised prices 50% and won’t give you your negatives) made my decision:  PUBW (Photographers Unite, Boycott Walgreens).

I Grew up with Walgreens

Before I continue, just let me say I “grew up” with Walgreens.  In my mind it’s always been the top pharmacy/service store to visit.  Yes, it’s roots are firmly grounded in being a pharmacy beginning 1901.  But they rapidly figured out they could sell candy, paper supplies, food, and FILM PROCESSING.

Ask 100 adults over than 40 where they can get film developed in an hour and I bet over 60% of them say Walgreens.

So, dear Walgreens, when you change your camera killing film development policies, I will be glad to return, buy my Good and Plenty boxes of candy, occasional pens and paper supplies, and late night food supplies.

PUBW:  Photographers Unite, Boycott Walgreens

I admit, there are a lot more important things in life than boycotting Walgreens because of their film policies.  I go to church, buy cold water for homeless people on hot, humid Chicago days, write emails to lazy politicians, and I write editorials in newspapers that haven’t been published yet.

I understand if Walgreens is the only place in your town to get a prescription filled.  Then you need to go to Walgreens.  But you can get your prescriptions filled at Costco, Walmart, Osco, and other places.

Anytime Walgreens wants to contact me, I’m an easy guy to find on the Internet.  Just search for my name:  Richard Kraneis.

But for now PUBW:  Photographers Unite, Boycott Walgreens.

If you agree with this post, just comment with the words PUBW.  If you have a status update on Walgreen’s film development policies in your town, please also leave a comment.

Thanks for visiting What is a Film Camera today and leaving a comment.  I respect Walgreens right to conduct their business within the law as they see fit.  But as an amateur photographer, it’s PUBW for me.

9/17/2013:  COSTCO Update on Developing Film in Chicago, IL USA

I visited COSTCO’s Lincoln Park store on N. Clybourn today and was told there was a 2-3 day wait on film processing.  I held my breath, what was the reason?

A belt broke in the film developer machine and they’ve ordered the part.  As soon as they get the new part, they’ll be up and running.  Meanwhile, they were at 30 packets of film to be developed sitting on a shelf.  But, the film manager at this COSTCO loves film and wants to keep the machine going.

I believe that if the COSTCO film developing machine breaks down they will probably end film development at their store, I asked the manager if she could talk to someone about distributed film processing with Clybourn as a hub.  She immediately picked up on the idea and said a “hub and spoke” film developing center was worth considering.

I don’t know if COSTCO will end their film development.  I do know that Walgreens has advertised 1 hour film development services for decades only to quietly turn their backs on all of us who love film.  At least at one COSTCO, the film development manager loves film as much as I do.


Photographers Unite: Boycott Walgreens — 2 Comments

  1. This is unfair. Not all Walgreens stores are doing this, and frankly it makes no sense. The store I work at does prints in one hour and you do get the negatives back. It is also corporate policy for all photo orders to be completed in one hour. I don’t understand why this store would not do prints unless a machine was down.

    • Sharron,

      I wanted to be respectful and publish your comment, even though you think my PUBW (Photographers Unite, Boycott Walgreens) is unfair.

      Heck, I’m just one guy boycotting Walgreens.

      But I am receiving feedback from photographer bloggers not listed by name who are telling me Walgreens has done exactly what I mentioned: raising film photography fees and reducing service. What else do you call it when a company raises their fees from 8 dollars to 12 dollars to perform a service in days that once took one hour to perform. And Walgreens is reducing the service offered, no more negatives.

      I know it’s a simple business decision on Walgreens part. Their 35mm film development machines are breaking down and they are too costly to repair. But why increase the cost on mail out services when decreasing the service by half???

      Film development is a declining business to Walgreens so they’ve decided to treat it as such. As for me, it’s also a business and personal decision. On a business side, I need my film developed. I’ll choose other vendors who develop my 35mm film affordably who still give me my film negatives.

      PUBW. Years ago I would go into a Walgreens, develop film, and buy stationary and groceries. For now, COSTCO gets my business in this area.

      Thanks for your comment. I wanted to be respectful of your dissenting opinion, publish your comment, and publish my response.



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