Yes, this is real: Sip & Develop–enjoy your own drink while you watch your film develop, at a strip mall near you

You have to bring your own, which I guess is cheaper. You’d think they would have found a cheaper location than next to a Whole Foods.

Is this a Mafia money laundering scheme?

Exactly my kids’ guess. My daughter sent us a message that said “there’s a mob front going in next to Whole Foods.”

I’m in the middle of watching this right now.

It too sounds like the kind of thing that most people over the age of 25 can see right through.

There’s a thread somewhere on here about “Local businesses that you think are fronts” and this - oh, who knows.

I hope someone can find it. I think I have an entry about a local typewriter repair shop in there.

Take your pick.

This one’s closed, but is a major timesuck anyway.

“Sip and X”, where X is an artsy-craftsy activity, is an established business model. I enjoy neither arts & crafts nor wine, so I have no interest in this kind of activity, but I have friends who love both, and they love our local versions of this. They’ve sipped and watercolored, sipped and drizzled acrylics, sipped and sculpted, and sipped and molded plastic.

Film photography still exists as an artsy-craftsy hobby. As I understand it, a significant element of the appeal as an artsy-craftsy hobby is the hands-on film development.

Sipping wine and developing film doesn’t personally strike me as particularly enticing combined activity, but then again, neither is something I’m personally interested in to begin with, so… :man_shrugging:

So you’re telling me I can sit alone in a pitch-black room, unwinding a roll of film by hand, wrapping it around a metal reel by touch alone while praying that it isn’t sticking to itself, dunking it into several tubs of probably carcinogenic chemicals which I must also identify by touch alone, for periods of time which I must estimate mentally without reference to external stimuli, after which I get to move it into a room which is not pitch-black but still damn near impossible to see in so that I can find out whether or not I completely ruined the film while fucking around with it in the dark as if the last 20 years of photographic innovation had never happened, except that now I get to pay for the privilege, and also I’m drunk while I’m attempting all of this?

I think I’d rather take my chances with one of those disposable cameras that had the film sealed into it and you shoved the whole damn thing into an envelope before you dropped it off at Walgreens.

Reminds me of the hookah bar that opened near us - not that it was a front for anything, just a bad choice for this area and the particular building. This is a largely rural and Amish county with a Naval Air Station, and it’s a bedroom community for people who work in DC. It’s not the sort of place one would expect a hookah bar to flourish, or even survive, and it didn’t. I don’t think it lasted a year. Plus the building, formerly a tavern, has maybe a dozen parking places and no real street parking. Someone lost a few dollars on that venture.

On the other hand, the Wine and Design place seems to be doing well, so that artsy-crafty thing has some appeal here, even without the wine (which is available but not mandatory.) I’ve been there a couple of times to paint - it was a pleasant way to spend a few hours. And from their FB page, it seems to be popular for kids’ birthday parties. Who knew??

Gotta be St Mary’s County. I should have stayed there.


My granduncle lived there in Hollywood; I used to visit him back when I lived in Baltimore. Lovely area, great crabbing. My dad was stationed at Patuxent when he was a sailor in the 1950’s.

Why aren’t you using a timer? We would only roll in the dark, the rest of the process was in the light as sealed containers were typically used, and minimal exposure to chemicals. (The exception is when I dunked C41 film for a wire service – that we’d do in open tanks, but we still used a timer.)

I’d do it for the nostalgia. I’ve developed a couple rolls of b&w in the basement in the digital age, but it’s been about fifteen years since I’ve worked in a wet darkroom. I have a couple rolls lying around that I’d like to develop, but I don’t have my reels, and the cost of the reels and tank makes no sense for developing a couple rolls of film which might not even have anything on them. (Plus I’d need both a 35mm and a 120 reel.)

The problem I see is that it seems like they provide nothing. You’re doing the work, and you bring the film and the refreshments. At most it seems that you may learn how to develop film. That works once. But why would you go back?

I can see why an art class that lets you bring your own drinks could be appealing. Art is a communal activity, and you’d learn to be learning over time to be a better artist. But extending that to merely developing film, a generally lonely process with little creativity once you get it right? That just seems silly.

It seems like this idea only makes sense for existing practices which you want to add drinking to. And, even then, wouldn’t it be better not to be drinking the same stuff you drink at home? Why not sell drinks?

I don’t know what to tell you. It’s not personally appealing to me, like, at all, but Wine & Design is a functional, successful business model, and I have friends that love it.

As to selling wine themselves, that requires a liquor license, which can be difficult and expensive to obtain and maintain, and depending on the jurisdiction can create difficulties with allowing access to the premises to minors.

I agree that wine & film developing seems like a stretch that’s unlikely to be as successful (it also has the distinct problem that Wine & Design offers a variety of arts & crafts activities, while Sip & Develop just offers the one quite niche activity). It really seems like some folks really enjoyed Wine & Design, saw how successful that concept was, thought running a similar business would be a dream job, and also happened to enjoy hobby photography and film developing, and thought they saw an unexploited market niche.

And, again, it doesn’t actually seem to me like it’s really a viable market niche, but since neither activity on its own is appealing to me but they’re both appealing on their own to others… :man_shrugging:

Ironically, this guy was a regular customer at the last tenant in that location; Get High & Think Up a Business Plan.

I am with @gdave that this doesn’t seem like a totally crazy business venture, and my guess is that they’ve done something to make the “developing a photo” part both simpler and more pleasant than groping around various trays of chemicals in the dark.

If this is basically “drink wine and get a mini-photography lesson” and you end up with a semi-artsy black and white 8x10 print that you can put up in your house instead of a pretty mediocre painted landscape or wobbly clay vessel, and when people ask you about it you could say “I developed it myself!”, it seems like it could compete pretty well with the other variants on this business.

And I’m with everyone in saying that I’m not that interested.

“Hey Babe, I just found that disposable camera I used to take “intimate” pictures of you on our vacation 10 years ago; wanna grab a bottle of wine and head for Sip and Develop?”

yeppers. We’ve been here 17 years and we love it.

Yet another issue with this business model: I’m not a wine drinker (or any other sort of alcohol, for that matter), but would being in the same room as a big vat of acetic acid really be conducive to appreciating the flavor of a fine wine?