A few days ago, Kacey Musgraves was in LA for her Oh What A World Tour II and needed to find a one-hour photo shop. She and her photographer sister Kelly Christine Sutton found Tom’s One Hour Photo & Lab on a quiet street in Korea Town. Musgraves was so taken by Tom Tuong’s work that she posted the photos on Instagram, urged her followers to head to his shop, and started Tom’s Photo Lab appreciation account. The pictures she shared on Instagram flaunt a ’90s yearbook glam. She’s wearing a white tracksuit and barrettes, posing against spray-painted stars and roses.
“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, Musgraves wrote on Instagram. “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.” Just like that, fans have flocked to the location to get their own glamour shots. Musgraves’ appreciation account, @tomsonehourphotolab, now has 55.7k followers.
“We pay rent but we don’t have enough money to bring home, to accrue anything. I bring home the money I make doing nails but we don’t have extra,” Tuong’s wife Lisa Le tells The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s why I come on my day off. We work hard but it’s not easy to make money.”
Business has been booming since Musgraves’ endorsement. She recalls her small town upbringing in an email to the Los Angeles Times: “We were raised in a small town, small-business household where ends sometimes were barely met. I think that’s why I have a soft spot for the dreamer … the underdog … I worked [in my parents’ shop] during my high school years answering phones, making copies, and rolling my eyes. I remember his own frustration and worry when Walmart came to town and home printers became a trend. Because who needs to order business cards or invitations anymore when you can just print your own?”
Check out Musgraves’ post and some of Tom’s photos below.
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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
I saw @KaceyMusgraves post about #TomsOneHourPhoto so I went over there to talk to Tom. He was too busy (!) but I spoke to his wife, Lisa, and 3 customers who went because of Kacey. This is Alli with Tom, and Exotic Babi with her male pal. Business is booming! pic.twitter.com/QgEBv8wTCW
— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) August 29, 2019