- Associated Press - Sunday, March 16, 2014

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - Pensacola Photo Supply is closing shop after 61 years in business, so if you want to get a picture of the place with the old Pensacola Photo Supply sign, you better go now.

Might as well bring your iPhone to snap up the memories. Everyone else does, which is one reason the long-revered shop on is having to close later this month after opening in 1953.

“Every phone has a camera on it,” said employee Steve Grenot, 59. “People don’t look at photography they way they used to. They’re disposable now. Nobody prints photos. They just push a button, and the photos get lost on their phone.”

When owner Margie McKinnon acquired the store in 1984, she didn’t know a thing about photography.

“We were looking for a business to buy,” she said. “We had about $5,000 to put down. I thought about a print shop, but that seemed like a headache. Then maybe a bakery, but you have to get up at 2 a.m. This was the third choice.”

When she took over the already decades-old store in the mid-‘80s, she practically rebuilt the place from scratch, Grenot said.

“It’s sad,” Grenot said. “Margie put her heart and soul into this place. We took out the ceilings, chiseled the walls, everything.”

And business was good. Pensacola Photo Supply earned a reputation as a place not only to find equipment and to get film processed, but to learn from experienced photographers. McKinnon surrounded herself with talented photographers - many former military photographers - and thrived on customer service.

“This was the place you came to learn about what you were buying,” said Tim Ludvigsen, who runs his own professional photography business. “We’re losing that knowledge. When you go to a box store, the people behind the counter won’t be there in 10 years. This people were here year after year and you could depend on them. That’s why we kept coming back.”

Ludvigsen even worked at Pensacola Photo Supply - three different times.

“If you wanted to work where all the professionals were,” he said, “then this was the place.”

College photography students learned out-of-school lessons there. Some got jobs there.

“She was the biggest supporter of the photo programs,” said Jim McDade, a longtime employee since the late 1980s. “Every student who walks in has a friend. She was always giving student discounts. They would ask us questions they wouldn’t ask a teacher. It’s been a home for virtually every student who has gone through town in the last 30 years.”

One of those students was Leah Williams, now a professional photographer in Birmingham, who first ventured into Pensacola Photo Supply as a Pensacola Junior College photography student in the late 1990s.

She eventually went to work for Pensacola Photo Supply a year or so later.

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