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Chipper Booth moving into custom photobooth market

The first custom Chipper Booth is at the Squire Lounge on East Colfax.

$3 for two photostrips, tweets included.

Vince Dressel was working for Chipotle's corporate office in LoDo when he launched Chipper Booth Photo Booth Company as a side project in Oct. 2011.

"For seven years, I'd been doing an analytical office job and I was tired of it," Dressel explains. "I like old things and photography is a hobby." The intersection of these two interests: building a vintage-looking photobooth in the garage.

That initial Chipper Booth debuted at the Huge Comedy Show at the Oriental Theater in 2011. Then Dressel started going to bridal shows to market the Chipper Booth to wedding planners and the like.

Dressel left Chipotle in May 2012 to concentrate on the Chipper Booth full-time. Today he has two employees, Loveland-based Erica Leigh and Jeff van Geete, an MBA student at CU Denver, plus three contract employees that work events.

Chipper Booth did 66 events in 2012 and Dressel expects to double that number in 2013. Four hours runs $999.

The vintage look harks back to the glory days of the photobooth, says Dressel. "Whenever a 70-year-old man gets in it, he says, 'This reminds me of the ones I used to get in on the boardwalks.'"

While Chipper Booths look old, they are full of the latest digital technology. "Everything's local," says Dressel, from the wood to the screws. "It's important to me to support local businesses because I am one of those businesses."

While weddings, festivals and other events are the lion's share of Chipper Booth's business, Dressel and van Geete see custom photobooths for bars as the main route to growth.

"People keep saying we should franchise or expand to other cities," says Dressel. "I believe we can make a healthy living right here in Denver."

To this end, the first custom Chipper Booth went into operation at the Squire Lounge in July and the second will be at the Park House by mid-September. "We can build a little piece of art," says van Geete. Prices start at $12,000.

Because of the digital bells and whistles, the custom booths are integrated with Facebook and Twitter. "It essentially manages their online presence for them," says van Geete, highlighting automatic hashtagging and tweeting. "It's going to handle a lot of what they do anyway" -- with their patrons' help.

"If you're not tweeting a couple times a day, it's like not being in the yellow pages in the '90s," says Dressel.

Echoes van Geete: "There's always going to be a line, there's always going to be a big party and it's shooting out tagged messages all night."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Read more articles by Eric Peterson.

Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here.
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