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AAFES celebrates milestone

BY Michael Johnsen

DALLAS The Army & Air Force Exchange Service will celebrate 115 years of service and support to America’s military this Sunday, the military retailer recently announced.

“AAFES’ commitment to America’s troops is as strong as it’s ever been,” stated Col. Virgil Williams, AAFES chief of staff. “Whether at their home station, deployed overseas, providing support in the wake of a natural disaster, or even in the hospital, AAFES is there.”

AAFES will be celebrating the anniversary July 25 through July 27, the retailer noted. Shoppers who stop by exchanges in the United States during the three-day period can register to win a $5,000 Exchange shopping spree while runners-up will receive one of three Samsung LED TVs ranging from 40-inches-to-55-inches. Exchange patrons in the United States also can enter to win a round trip for two to Hollywood to meet Mario Lopez and attend a taping of eXTRA.

Military shoppers stationed overseas who stop by the Exchange during the three-day period can register to win a $5,000 Exchange shopping spree, a backpack or set of luggage.

AAFES was established July 25, 1895, when the War Department issued General Order number 46 directing post commanders to establish an Exchange at every post where practicable. In addition to its flagship Exchange facilities, modern AAFES operations also include convenience stores, car care centers, military clothing sales stores, fast food restaurants, such retail concession services as flower shops and gift stores, vending, telecommunications support and a wide variety of personal services through more than 3,100 facilities in 25 countries, five U.S. territories and all 50 states.

AAFES is a joint command of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, and is directed by a board of directors who is responsible to the Secretaries of the Army and the Air Force through the Service Chiefs of Staff. AAFES has the dual mission of providing authorized patrons with articles of merchandise and services and of generating non-appropriated fund earnings as a supplemental source of funding for military morale, welfare and recreational services.

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Photo takes a stationery stance

BY Barbara White-Sax

Cards are a key area of opportunity in the photo department. Dimitrios Delis, director of marketing research at the Photo Marketing Association, said he believes on-demand stationery is a category waiting to explode. “Everybody buys stationery, from notepads to thank-you cards, and the mass market is an untapped market for on-demand products,” he said.

“Expanding the category makes a lot of sense,” Delis said. “Consumers can print as many pieces as they want. From a retailer standpoint, it frees up a lot of space they now devote to a huge card section.”

Bing Liem, VP sales for Fujifilm North American’s imaging division, saw opportunity for other occasions. “The possibilities for photo cards are endless; they aren’t just for holidays anymore,” he said. “It’s no wonder that industry sources predict compounded annual growth in the segment of roughly 17% over the next three years.”

Even if the photo-processing business grabs a small share of the $800 million greeting card/stationery business, it will be a huge gain for the photo-processing category. Liem didn’t believe photo cards would cannibalize existing stationery sales because card templates offered online and at the kiosk can include a wider variety of occasions than can be inventoried. The trick is to bring in kiosks that are capable of offering the selection consumers are used to with and without photo options on the cards. Up until now, kiosks have been limited to a slim selection of holiday cards.

“Kodak Picture Kiosks offer more than 296 designs that present the consumer with 1,200 choices depending on the card size and card orientation,” said a representative for Kodak. “Consumers can use a Kodak kiosk to grab in-the-moment action images from HD video, download shared images from social media sites and scan older photos from prints.”

Vendors like Cameostyle offer consumers such options as thank you notes, birth announcements, home renovation completed and graduation cards. Card styles aren’t limited to those that include a photo.

Drug stores are emerging as a preferred location for photo card printing, Liem said, with 33% of all cards produced in the channel. Online ordering with same-day pickup in-store will be crucial to continued success.

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Staying dry, technically

BY DSN STAFF

GILBERT, Ariz. —Consumers with a wet cell phone can avert disaster with a new product from HPL. The Dry-All wet cellular phone emergency kit dries out wet cell phones in 48 hours using the company’s dehumidifying technology. Consumers unzip the Dry-All bag, place the wet cell phone inside, zip up the bag and wait 48 hours. Aime Gutierrez, director of sales and marketing for Dry-All, said the product has a “great success rate.”

HPL, which manufactures molecular dehumidifiers, developed the technology to protect moisture-sensitive military equipment. The product also has been used for daily moisture removal from hearing aids, and now is being used to dry out wet electronic items, such as iPods and cell phones.

The kit retails for $9.99 and has been available online. The company is looking to expand distribution to mass outlets.

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