How Acclaimed Country Musician Kacey Musgraves Saved One Struggling Photo Shop Owner’s Business
Early last week, Grammy-winning country musician, Kacey Musgraves was making a stop in L.A. for not one, but two sold-out nights at the Greek Theatre. Kacey’s sister does a lot of her photography, so during the day, they found themselves stumbling into a humble little photo shop in Koreatown to get some film developed. Soon they would discover that they had found a true gem!
Mom & Pop One Hour Photo Shops
Tom’s One Hour Photo & Lab is a quaint little photo shop located in Koreatown in Los Angeles. Since opening up his business back in 1991, Tom has collected some truly vintage photography backdrops in his shop. It almost makes you feel like you’re stepping backward in time to an age where photo labs like these were all over the country. Tom’s One Hour Photo is even still cash only! Tom also didn’t have an internet presence, and his shop had been struggling to survive.
That is until Grammy-award winning, Kacey Musgraves stopped by.
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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
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Musgraves was the recipient of this year’s Grammy Album of the Year award for her album “Golden Hour”. She and her sister stumbled into Tom’s One Hour Photo at 4158 Beverly Blvd in Koreatown in the middle of the day and changed Tom’s life forever! Learning that Tom had no internet presence for his photo shop, Musgraves decided to take it upon herself and make him one.
After hanging around and chatting with Tom for a while, Musgraves learned that his business used to thrive, but had slowed down when the technical wave rolled in. Still, 90’s camera culture has recently begun making a comeback, so it was the perfect time for Tom to catch a big break!
After making Tom an Instagram account, Kacey gave a true and honest shout out to the shop to her 811,000 Twitter fans and 1.6 million Instagram followers. This caused the following on Tom’s new page to SKYROCKET! The shop’s Instagram account is now up to 58.5k Followers and his shop is doing better than ever!
Musgraves even posed for a series of 90’s-inspired portraits at Tom’s Studio and has since shared those images.
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As unique as Tom’s is, there are soo many business just like it in your own neighborhood. You walk past them every day without thinking twice. Look for your own version of Tom’s, stop in and spend $5. Ask questions. Spread the word or leave them a nice review. Challenge yourself to go out of your way to support them. You’ll literally be putting food on their table. I know because I grew up with small business owners for parents living check to check. You really CAN make a difference. These places are untouched by modern technology and that’s why they’re beautiful. They’re the backbone of this country and they need us. ♥️ – Kacey aka @spaceykacey (photo snapped today by @shutterhappyjose and it just made me so emotional) #TomsOneHourPhoto
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Little Gestures Can Go a Long Way
Recently at her Santa Fe Opera House performance last Wednesday night, Musgraves told her fans, “Our country is built on the backbone of these small businesses. 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.”
Musgraves didn’t know it, but she already had a big fan in the family, Tom’s son, Nick. He sent her a message telling her how overwhelmed he was with gratitude.
“THANK YOU SO MUCH for visiting and supporting us!!!,” Nick wrote to Musgraves “…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!”
— K A C E Y M U S G R A V E S (@KaceyMusgraves) August 29, 2019
We love it when artists and media creators use their influence to help small businesses. It creates such a feeling of hope for the generations to come–that communal spirit that we’re all in this together.
To check out some of Tom’s recent work, visit his Instagram and if you’re in L.A. anytime soon, do yourself a favor and check out Tom’s One Hour Photo & Lab!