Merchant of the Month: TPS Photo Centre

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Merchant of the Month: TPS Photo Centre

TPS Photo Centre

Owner: Mr Poh Sum Peng, 62 years old.


Owner Profile: Owner of TPS Photo Centre, Mr Poh Sum Peng’s history with Tampines N2 goes way back. Having been in the Photo developing business for over 30 years, Mr Poh recalls how he came down to Tampines N2 when it was still under construction to take some photos. Moving on from a partnership in a shop located in Geylang East, Mr Poh set out to open his own shop in Tampines N2 back in 1985. Mr Poh is very dedicated to his work, and only closes his shop for 2 days during Chinese New Year in an entire year! He describes his daily routine as taking a walk from his home somewhere in tampines to his shop and then walking back again after closing. This amounts to his daily exercise, quips Mr Poh. During weekends, he closes his shop earlier at 4pm to have dinner with his family.


Shop Profile: TPS Photo Centre is located at Tampines N2 Block 201C. It is opened from 9am to 9pm and 8am to 4pm, 7 days a week. Their services include: Photo developing, photocopying, laminating, scanning, printing out of emails and even selling stationery.



Looking back, what are the differences between photography back in the day as compared to today?

In the days of old, when people go on holidays, they would come back with many photos, and business would be good. In this day and age, everything is digital, everything is online. With things like facebook, people no longer need to develop their photos to share them. Moreover, with photo printers getting better and better, we are finding business slowing down every year. In the old days, profit margins were higher too. Back then when there was film, a roll contained about 24 or 36 photos. Today, an SD card can hold thousands of photos for you to choose from. All these factors add to the fact that the photo developing business is getting harder as time goes by.


Any interesting trends you see nowadays? Anything retro coming back to popularity?

You can say that film is coming back nowadays. There are some photographers who like to go for that classic film look. That doesn’t mean that film sales has gone up a lot though. As compared to before, film is definitely fading away, slowly. Another thing getting popular is the instant photos. The younger generation seems to have taken a liking to the small instant cameras. To keep up with the times, I sell the Fuji Instax film in my shop as well. Another thing I have done to help me survive is branch out to sell things like stationery in my shop as well.


Who are your main customers? Do you get many returning customers?

Yes I do indeed get many returning customers. People who came to develop film ten over years ago are still coming back to me to develop digital photos. When TPS Photo Centre just opened, places like Simei and Pasir Ris were still not very well developed. At the time, Tampines was kind of the “Hub”. Because of this, I would get many customers from Simei and Pasir Ris. Some of them still come by till this day. People living around Tampines know that if they need any of the services like photocopying or printing, they can always drop by.


What are some of the challenges you face in your line of work?

Well besides the changes in terms of the world leaning towards digital photography, which I have mentioned earlier, I still do have day to day challenges. Nowadays photo development volume is much higher. As with digital cameras, people do not have the limit of a roll of film anymore. I do get photo orders in the hundreds these days. Some customers even give me their whole SD card of thousands of photos and ask me to help them to choose which are the nice photos. Another challenge is last minute jobs. Often there are customers who are in a very urgent rush. For example, I once had a customer who was rushing for a flight in a few hours time and needed to print out her boarding pass. Sometimes there are customers whose printers run out of ink and they come to me to print something urgently so they can use it at work the next morning. I always try to help them as quickly as I can, because I know how important some of these things mean to my customers.

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