Written by The Business Journal Staff
Horn Photo, a locally owned camera and photo shop celebrating its 80th year in business, is continuing to grow and will soon relocate to a larger space just steps away from its current location within River Park’s Villaggio Shopping Center.
The new location, previously occupied by Joy Luck Chinese restaurant, is nearly double the size of Horn Photo’s current space — 5,200 square feet compared to 3,000 — and though it is less visible, tucked in between Professor Toy and the Sierra Nut House instead of front and center on the corner across from Pismo Grill, owners Stan and Shelly Grosz say the extra room coupled with a rear entrance and parking make the move to the other side of the shopping center worth it.
“There are times of the year and days of the week when this parking lot is pretty congested, so even though it’s in that corner, which is a tough corner because it’s not very visible, the rear parking is huge,” Shelly Grosz said. “Customers can just pull into the back, park and pick up their stuff. A lot of people order prints online and all they need to do is pick them up, so they need easy access.”
While technology has evolved substantially since Horn Photo first opened its doors in 1937, by keeping up with digital trends, the shop has not only survived, but is thriving as more Smartphone photographers take an interest in the art form and come in to print high-quality photos.
“People assume that cell phones hurt us, but they helped us,” Stan Grosz said. “Everybody is carrying a phone that has a camera in it that takes great photos. When you take a great photo with your iPhone or Android and you want to make a print, where do you go? You go to Horn Photo.”
Software programs like Photoshop have also allowed Horn Photo to expand its services in restoration of old photos.
Over the past 15 years, Stan has personally restored nearly 42,000 photos.
Horn Photo’s general printing services and restorations are well known, but the extra square footage at the new location will allow the business to showcase some of its larger products, like tripods and video hardware, and display services like its large metal printing service and its large scale prints of up to 40×60 inches.
Most of the production services have been confined to a couple thousand square-foot warehouse space behind the shopping center that Horn Photo has leased in addition to its store.
“We do all our video transfers over there at the warehouse and our Christmas cards, calendars and coffee mugs — all those items — and now we’ll be able to do it all under one roof,” Stan said.
The rental division of the business will also expand so amateurs and pros alike that want to test out a camera or accessory before they buy, or just need an extra large lens or flash to shoot a weekend event, will have more options.
A back patio will also allow Horn Photo to host events, such as its kickoff expo set for Memorial Day weekend.
Photography classes that Horn Photo currently offers at the warehouse could also be held outside on the patio.
The Groszes, who have owned the business for 25 years, have moved Horn Photo twice before, first from its original location on Belmont to Fig Garden Village and then from Fig Garden to the current space, but this is the first time the Groszes have had to completely transform a building to suit there needs.
“The space we’re in now was a jewelry store, so all we had to do was refit it, but this is a total rebuild,” Stan said. “This is the first time we’ve done a total remodel.”
While the Groszes could have searched outside the shopping center to find someplace turnkey, the couple said they like the current landlord and vibe of the center.
“It’s been a good mix for us,” Shelly said. “We like this shopping center. It’s a good retail center and it’s easy for our customers to find with the proximity to Highway 41.”
Construction on the site’s interior began mid-February and so far the former kitchen and bar have been torn out and replaced with rooms for production and printing services and a spacious customer service area. The target completion date is May 1.