It looks like something you might expect to find in Tokyo, but the print club you see pictured above is actually located in the heart of London, being situated in the popular Covent Garden shopping area. Flora is billed as “London’s first print club”, dedicated to providing photo-sticker machines that have proven popular in the Asian market. I’ve only ever seen these machines located in arcades amongst the regular video games, so it should be interesting to see how this new venture fares in the UK. Here’s the full rundown from The Stinger Report:
The Stinger Report was lucky enough to be one of the first to visit the new ‘Flora – Print Club’ venue. The latest attempt to bring the phenomena that is sticker-booth entertainment to the international scene.
Located in the heart of London’s trendy Covent Garden district, the Flora store has been open for over four months, with an inventory of six of the best Print Sticker machines. Proclaimed as the ‘1st Photo Club in London’, the venue brings the unique experience of the genre to the UK Capital.
The Sticker-picture booth machines contain a digital printer, PC, digital camera and a LCD display (t see what you have shot) – as well as an external second display for the user to modify the group of images taken. The user can play wit the CGI backgrounds, overlaid images and incorporated effects. One machine at the venue also includes image manipulation with special lighting to change the users’ looks.
For those not familiar with the genre; the Japanese urban landscape is littered with venues that wholly run sticker-booth machines. Since Atlus originated the ‘Picture Club’ (Purikura) in 1995 – supported by Sega – the mega-concept has evolved into the imposing booth systems. One of the best examples of this is the Shibuya’s ‘Purikura no Mecca’, in Tokyo – filled with hoards of giggling school girls and teenagers, taking snaps – sharing images, and gossiping; an example of one of Asian amusements unique female appeals in recent years (along with ‘Love & Berry’).
For London, this will be an unusual new addition to the changing amusement landscape (previously covered in an in-depth feature in the Stinger Report). Speaking to one of the founders of the store, he revealed that the site was only now out of development and that the Flora team were just starting to advertise and canvas users. Other than word-of-mouth, the owners were starting to hand out flyers at the local colleges and universities.
The venue was hoping to promote the Purikua spirit, with the inclusion of t-shirt and other printed image services for the generated images. At this site the machines were a mixture of old and new versions – brand new to International shores. The site is an initial push by investors towards ascertaining the interest in this market towards future sites (encouraged by the international adoption of Hello Kitty stores in the West).
The UK trade had dabbled with the original sticker-machines from the 90’s with some success – however the expense of importing the latest Sticker-picture booth had been ignored by all manufacturers and distributors in the local market. The big question must be has the time come for London (and the rest the World) to get stuck on sticker booth?