Why does the lab matter?

I have been asked why I do not print photos at certain big name drug stores since they offer specials for free prints often.  The short answer is that I have gotten prints from them and was less than impressed.

There is a price we pay for quality.  Of the consumer labs, it seems to be nearly a consensus among my photographer friends that http://www.mpix.com is the best choice for the price.

Amy Cook took the time to compile a few comparisons.  Please take a look at them here and the second here.  If you are in her neck of the woods (Ohio) stop in and let her shoot you!