Developing Films in Local Stores

Most retail and drug stores in local American towns were able to develop film, and they returned the negatives. I remember my mom used to collect the negatives and collect them “just-in-case” when the film photos get destroyed. I never understood why but now she is gone, I wish to have the negatives so I can develop those film photos again. This is another topic for another time.

What I want to focus on today is the fact that many of these retail and drug stores no longer develop film anymore. Sadly, there are many moms and pop retail and drug stores no longer survived the big chain stores and most film developing stores no longer exist due to the growing digital cameras industry. The popular darkroom is no longer available for any consumer to walk-in and asks for their 35mm camera film to be developed. It’s getting harder and harder for the film camera enthusiasts to find the places to develop their beloved negatives except online film developing websites. I am here to share some of my thoughts and places that the enthusiasts can still develop films. If you want to learn and find out how to develop films you can also check out this article I read at

The first place is Walmart. The film developing service can be different from each Walmart store. Before I wrote this article, my friend contacted me and advised that his Walmart store near his house did not have the service. However, the store near my house has it. The best thing you can do is to check the Walmart website and make sure before you visit your local store. One disappointing factor is that Walmart stops returning negatives to save on their postage costs. They give customers scanned images on a CD.

Since 2015, Walgreens stopped providing their film developing service. However, don’t get too disappointed as the store subs out the work to a third party film developing service. Please note that you won’t be able to get the negatives back and you won’t be able to order the developing service online.

Lastly, the CVS store service is similar to Walgreen. They outsource their service to a 3rd party. Some folks commented that the order takes longer than any other places. They said that it took more than 3 weeks for their films to be developed. There is no online film developing service as well.

Target, Costco, and Sam’s Club completely stopped providing their film developing service. It’s ironic because these stores sell film cameras and sell instant film cameras at a reasonable price. These companies don’t want to spend money on themselves to provide the service for very selective customers. It makes sense.

The online film developing services are good too. Now these days, this is where the service is moving to. If you want to learn how to develop film at home, there are many YouTube videos you can watch to create the darkroom environment at home. Of course, you would need right chemicals and the right space (without lights) to develop the film. What’s your preference and how would you develop your film photos?