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Kacey Musgraves’ favorite 2019 moment happened in Los Angeles

Singer Kacey Musgraves has had a big year, from winning the Grammy for album of the year in February for her acclaimed “Golden Hour” right up to her star-studded new holiday special on Amazon Prime Video, “The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show.”

But it turns out that the country-pop artist’s favorite moment of 2019 involves a Los Angeles business she put in the national spotlight when she was in town on tour over the summer: Tom’s One Hour Photo Studio and Lab in Koreatown.

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Kacey Musgraves and her sister explain why they put the 1990s-era photo studio into the spotlight. And Tom’s has its most surprising, busiest week in a long time.

“We needed to find a one-hour photo place really quick,” Musgraves told TV host Ellen DeGeneres in a segment that aired Tuesday. “And [my sister] found a place that happened to be open and that could turn the photos back around in a quick time.”

After dropping off the film, Musgraves’ sister called her and said: “‘This guy was so cute. You have to come when we come pick up the film. You gotta come with me. You’re going to fall in love with the place.’”

And sure enough, Musgraves did.

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Tom’s One Hour Photo
Breyona Holt, 24, of Atlanta gets her portrait taken by Tom Tuong at Tom’s One Hour Photo Studio and Lab on Beverly Boulevard.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

“The place is amazing,” she told DeGeneres, breaking down a bit of the store’s history and what it does: Tom Tuong, a Vietnamese immigrant, opened the shop in 1990 and makes his own cheerful backdrops for photo shoots.

“It’s just very nostalgic, the whole thing. And Tom’s a sweetheart and a very, very hard worker,” Musgraves said. Musgraves’ sister shared the private photos she had developed at Tom’s store with The Times.

Musgraves and her sister tried to set Tuong up with an Instagram profile after he admitted he didn’t have one, but they couldn’t figure out how to work his Android. They waited until they got home to create an account for him.

“And it just amassed thousands of followers within days. We were kind of just blown away,” said Musgraves. Within a few hours, people were lined up outside the small shop on Beverly Boulevard. The business has been thriving ever since.

“There’s this huge nostalgic renaissance that’s happening... and it just felt like my generation would genuinely appreciate this business,” Musgraves said.

The “High Horse” singer talked about how Tuong’s story felt personal to her.

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Grammy-winning singer Kacey Musgraves stumbled upon a a family-owned Koreatown business recently and left it with a new Instagram account and 28,000 new fans.

“I come from a household of small-business owners, my parents are, and I know first hand what it’s like when people choose to put their money there versus a place that might be more convenient or bigger,” she said.

As of Tuesday morning, Tom’s Instagram account has 87,700 followers and 157 posts that feature colorful, ‘80s-style portraits of couples, dogs, couples and their dogs, friends, single folks and even several A-list celebrities such as Oscar winner Brie Larson and actress and former late-night host Busy Philipps.


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