Reclaim Fotomat

Now that Reclaim Arcade is up and running I find myself looking for other things to dream about. My life has come to a beautiful moment wherein the things I imagine can actually come true, not sure how I got here, but I never want to leave. And one project I think would dovetail beautifully with Reclaim Arcade would be a quick reclaiming of the abandoned drive-thru coffee kiosk in the parking lot of our fine establishment. Tim grabbed a few images of it for me as it currently stands via Google Maps:

Out of business drive-thru coffee shop in the Reclaim parking lot

The drive-thru coffee shop in the Reclaim parking lot when it was still operating

I’m not positive, but if I was a betting man I would venture this modest edifice was once a Fotomat. I mean every self-respecting 1980s strip mall (which is our situation) had one, you can read more about its interesting origin story here.

But what happened to these ubiquitous drive-thrus? There is a great post I discovered last week that documents a number of zombie-like re-animations of these Fotomat kiosks that is entertaining, here’s a few:

That last bit with the converted coffee shop drive-thru is pretty similar what we are looking at in the Reclaim Arcade parking lot. So I think the obvious and natural question is how do we turn it back into a Fotomat?

I mean it’s time, right? That gorgeous yellow roof beaming out its colorful siren song to all those nostalgic Gen-Xs and Boomers who have nothing better to do than pretend what they experienced in 1982 was the apex of kitsch culture. That said, I still want to do it. Even more so after I learned that Fotomats were one of the the earliest locations for renting VHS titles:

Besides developing (and selling a lot of Kodak film), Fotomat also became one of the first places to offer video rentals. For the steep fee of $12 (in 1970s money, no less), you could browse through a catalog, then call a phone number and order a movie of your choice. The next day, you could pick up the video cassette and enjoy it for a full five days before returning it to your local Fotomat.

Think about it, we could have folks call ahead to reserve their VHS title from Reclaim Video using a mail order catalog, and then have them drive-thru and grab it at the Reclaim Fotomat. We may even be able to do better than the $12 rental fee. Here is a clip of the Fotomat logo playing before one of the tapes they rented, so wild!

I don’t know why this all excites me so much, but the idea of bringing a Fotomat back to life as another piece of art in the Reclaim universe seems as about as meaningful a project as any of them, and whether or not there will be an employee bathroom in the building will surely be an object of conjecture for the coming generations. This was the advent of “tiny” culture before tiny anything was cool!

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