Kacey Musgraves was in town earlier this week for two sold-out nights at the Greek Theatre. In her downtime, the Grammy-winning country artist and her sister stumbled into an inconspicuous little photo shop in Koreatown.
On a quest to develop some film, they found a “gem”: a cash-only, mom-and-pop shop with no internet presence but plenty of handmade backdrops, retro photo sessions and an endearingly old-school photo lab struggling to survive.
But that’s all changing now.
Musgraves, who won this year’s Grammy for album of the year for her acclaimed “Golden Hour,” created an Instagram account on Wednesday for Tom’s One Hour Photo Studio and Lab. Musgraves and her sister randomly happened upon the small, family-owned business at 4158 Beverly Blvd. in Koreatown.
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We were just in LA and needed to find a One Hour Photo place quick. Sandwiched between little bodegas, my sister randomly found this place on Beverly Blvd in Korea Town called Tom’s One Hour Photo & Lab. It’s one of those rare mom-&-pop gems that has lasted thru trends coming and going and weirdly has come back around again without even realizing it. The owner, Tom, was SO adorable. He not only does film developing but (cheap) and nostalgic portrait sessions too. (He gave us digital files and we edited these but he’ll shoot on film if you ask him to.) Pick your favorite background! He made them all himself. 🥰 It’s cash only and he has no internet. He sadly told us his business used to be really busy back in 1991 when he opened but has slowed way down since the digital wave. So, like any good millennials would do we started an appreciation Instagram for him. @tomsonehourphotolab 🌹 Not sure he’ll even see this. Stop by, tell all your friends, and don’t forget to tag. Let’s keep this charming business afloat! #TomsOneHourPhoto
The “High Horse” singer spent some time chatting with the shop’s owner and learned that the once-bustling business, which opened in 1991, had slowed to a crawl since the digital wave. (But as interest in ’90s camera culture surges, things could be looking up.)
Determined to give it a much-needed boost, Musgraves enlisted her 1.6 million Instagram followers and 811,000 Twitter fans for support.
“Let’s keep this charming business afloat!,” Musgraves wrote on her Instagram. Her efforts are paying off splendidly. As of Thursday morning, the shop had accrued nearly 28,000 Instagram followers. And a happy and overwhelmed Tom has been flooded with calls and portrait requests.
Musgraves herself posed for a series of dreamy portraits in the studio and shared the images on her Instagram.
🌹Got my portrait made at this AMAZING little place in Korea Town LA called Tom’s One Hour Photo. It hasn’t changed since he opened in ‘91. It’s cash only & has no internet. Said business has gotten so slow since the digital wave 😞 so we made him an insta: @tomsonehourphotolab pic.twitter.com/Y2RPmw1aN7— K A C E Y M U S G R A V E S (@KaceyMusgraves) August 28, 2019
“Our country is built on the backbone of these small businesses,” Musgraves told fans at the Santa Fe Opera house Wednesday night, which was captured on Instagram and shared on Tom’s newly minted account. “My parents are small-business owners, and they have been since I can remember... they’re making ends meet working together, just doing what they can. So I know what it’s like.”
The owner’s son, Nick, is a big fan of Musgraves and was overwhelmed with gratitude and made sure to express it.
“THANK YOU SO MUCH for visiting and supporting us!!!,” he wrote on Instagram. “...Our family business has been slow since advancements in technology have put one hour photo and retro studio photography on a downward path. But thanks to you and photography aficionados, we are still alive!”
Tom could not be immediately reached for comment, but his old photo shop, sandwiched between a pet store and a computer repair business, seems poised to survive after all.