(Here’s the sign-up if you don’t already get California Today delivered to your inbox.)
Last week was a heavy week of news in California. So today, we’re focusing on something nice.
Fans of Kacey Musgraves — the Grammy-winning, genre-bending singer and songwriter — may have seen the story of her stumbling upon Tom’s One Hour Photo and Lab play out in real time on Instagram. Her posts led to a wave of new visitors to the store. To find out more about the effects of the singer’s visit, my colleague Walter Thompson-Hernández stopped by the shop in Los Angeles’s Koreatown a little after the first rush of newcomers had blown through. Here’s what happened:
Tuong Hiep, the owner of Tom’s One Hour Photo, is a very happy man. An immigrant from Vietnam, he came to the United States in 1979 and worked as a wedding and birthday photographer, eventually saving enough money to open a small portrait studio, where customers can also develop film.
But now that every cellphone has a camera — and every smartphone, a profusion of photo filters — times are tough for these kinds of establishments. Tom’s One Hour Photo still has a loyal clientele, but business had slowed drastically in recent years.
That is until Kacey Musgraves decided to show the Koreatown shop some love recently. She and her sister, a professional photographer named Kelly Christine Sutton, went to the store to develop some disposable camera film while they were in town for Ms. Musgraves’s tour, and ended up coming back with a makeup artist later that afternoon to take glamour shots.
[Read more about the slow fade of Glamour Shots, once the coolest store in every mall.]
Ms. Musgraves posted a glowing recommendation for the place on her Instagram — “Let’s keep this charming business afloat!” she wrote in the caption — and the sisters started a separate Instagram account for the business, which they are still running. (As of Sunday, it had 66,700 followers.)
The post went viral and a micro media blitz ensued. Customers flooded to Mr. Hiep’s shop for portraits, as did plenty of news outlets that chronicled the boost in business and Mr. Hiep’s personal story.
“I was very lucky to meet her,” Mr. Hiep said last week, while arranging a display in the back of his store. “She brought a lot of new people from Instagram and she promised she would help me.”
Mr. Hiep said that other people had promised that they would help him over the years. He told The Los Angeles Times that some months, business was so bad that his wife, who works at a West Hollywood nail salon, had to give the store a cash infusion from her own earnings.
“Everyone always says that they can help, but they don’t,” he said. “Kacey is the only one that has done something.”
Now that the initial flurry is over, Mr. Hiep and his wife, Le, are taking a breath and hoping the excitement over the store lasts.
The place has withstood many changes since the 1990s; the front of the shop is covered with photos taken over the past few decades — an archive of different eras and styles. Mr. Hiep’s greatest hope is that his work there continues, and he can keep supporting his family.
On Thursday, he was at work with an assistant. A handful of people were in the store, booking appointments, picking up developed film and sitting for portraits.
Here’s what else you may have missed over the weekend
We often link to sites that limit access for nonsubscribers. We appreciate your reading Times coverage, but we also encourage you to support local news if you can.
Senator Kamala Harris said she sued Exxon Mobil. But that’s not quite accurate. [The New York Times]
Also, Ms. Harris apologized for her reaction when a supporter in New Hampshire described the president’s actions as “mentally retarded.” [The New York Times]
San Francisco would pay $2.5 billion for Pacific Gas & Electric-owned power lines and other equipment, as the city moves toward creating a municipal utility. That would have big ramifications for PG&E. [The San Francisco Chronicle]
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an antitrust investigation into the four automakers who struck a deal with California to abide by the state’s stricter pollution rules. The move escalates a standoff over the president’s efforts to roll back climate regulations. [The New York Times]
Having a tough time keeping track of all the government investigations into the practices of big tech companies? Here’s a helpful explainer. [The New York Times]
On Sunday, the authorities served search warrants at the company that owned the Conception, the scuba diving boat that caught fire and sank last week, killing 34 people. [The Associated Press]
If you missed it, here’s more about what it was like aboard the Conception, according to people who had taken diving trips on the vessel in the past. [The New York Times]
On Sunday evening, fires were burning across parts of Northern California, prompting some evacuations. [The Sacramento Bee]
Los Angeles County saw its first death believed to be linked to vaping last week. [The New York Times]
Also: Here’s what you need to know about the vaping-related lung illness. [The New York Times]
In the past two months alone, Antonio Brown, one of the most talented wide receivers in professional football, posted pictures online of his blistered feet, refused to switch to a new football helmet and used an Instagram post to ask to be released from his team, the Raiders. He got what he asked for and is headed to the Patriots. [The New York Times]
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter, @jillcowan.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.
- Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy season 2 trailer lands in the ’60s
- Facebook slammed in audit for ‘heartbreaking decisions’ that set back civil rights
- Galaxy Note 20 will launch Aug. 5: The biggest rumors, specs and leaks we know
- Weird green gel-like substance found on the moon finally identified
- 2021 Audi A7 plug-in hybrid priced from $75,895
- Intel reveals details on Thunderbolt 4
- UFC 251 Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal: How to watch or stream online, start time and full fight card
- Meet the new Batwoman: Javicia Leslie replaces Ruby Rose on CW superhero series
- Confused by the Hamilton ending? Here’s what Lin-Manuel Miranda says