CARBONEAR, NL — A local photographer has run into some issues with his usual holiday services at the Trinity Conception Square Mall in Carbonear.
Robert Thornhill, who owns and operates his own photography business – Robert Thornhill Photography – has been taking photos of children next to Santa Claus at the local mall for the last three years.
However, after finding out his photos were being printed at the photo lab at the Wal-Mart attached to the same mall, Thornhill has ultimately decided to end the service this Christmas season.
Part of Thornhill’s services included taking 4x6 photos and offering a package of four copies for $15 through a printing service. However, Thornhill’s printer recently informed him that customers were no longer making use of the printing service they offered, and were instead taking the photos to Wal-Mart’s photo lab and using the store’s photo kiosk to re-print the images for a lower cost.
“Instead, people were just getting the one photo, and going down to Wal-Mart and printing off however many they want for 19 cents per copy,” explained Thornhill. “I can’t compete with that … No one can compete with that.”
Thornhill said when he discovered the news, he decided to speak directly to Wal-Mart management, hoping for clarification on the circumstances, but was told the situation was beyond their control. The Compass similarly reached out to Wal-Mart, but did not receive a response.
After finding no solution through Wal-Mart, Thornhill faced the situation head-on, which he explained he later regretted.
“I did lose my temper, I can’t lie. I went out there, told everyone to go home, told Santa to get out, and I really do apologize for that,” said Thornhill. “It was just difficult for me, knowing that these people were basically stealing from me, and there was nothing being done.”
On Monday morning, Thornhill told the Compass he had since resigned from the annual gig, and has no intention of returning for the time being, despite the photo sessions being a decent source of income for the photographer.
However, Thornhill said he did what he felt he needed to.
“It’s not going to mean the end of Christmas for me or my family, but this was definitely helpful for putting a few more presents under the tree these past few years,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I couldn’t just keep letting people steal from me, you know? We’re a local, small business, and these kinds of things do affect how we do things.”
Thornhill said he had been considering pursuing legal action and contacting a lawyer, but is still on the fence about it, adding he’d like to see the situation done and over with.
“It is what it is now. There are rules and laws that need to be enforced here, but it’s all very stressful as well.”