Alexandra Porter opens an old photo album and her eyes take in all the old rectangles across the pages. She says she likes to see what people notice when they take their photos.
Porter, a long-time employee, is running Brian’s Foto Source for Brian McHugh and his family until it closes for good in December.
She places the album back down on the table among the stacks of envelopes in the front corner of the store. The corner contains hundreds of photos organized by name. A whole box is dedicated to the surname Martin.
Brian’s Foto Source is closing for good December 16, and Porter still has piles and piles of photos that were never picked up. She has photos dated back to 2005.
“Some things don’t have a name or only have one name. So I’ve kind of done the best I can to organize it for people. And then we have a ton of miscellaneous, just photos that have been left here over the years,” she said.
“I’ve had a ton of people already find stuff, from their family or friends or people they know. And everybody’s really excited to find stuff because it’s so long ago. Nobody remembers what they are, right?”
If anyone ever came into the store to get photos developed, Porter hopes they’ll come in and take a look for themselves, and even for family and friends. And it’s not just photos that are left to be picked up.
“We’ve got photo orders, photo albums, obviously the frames, CDs, USBs. I found a pair of children’s sunglasses that were in an envelope. Just anything that belongs to customers over the years, we’ve kept on the off chance that they come back,” said Porter.
Pickup can also be arranged for the week after the 16th, she says, but she’ll need to know ahead of time.
And what will happen to the photos left behind?
“We are deciding whether to just toss them or shred them because it’s personal information. But there’s nothing else we can really do. We don’t have a place to store them, so they will likely be recycled,” she said.
All the rest of the merchandise and equipment in the store is going to be either sold off, sent to other stores, or dismantled and recycled.
Porter says the store is going to continue to operate as usual until it closes, though she can no longer provide passport or ID photos.
As for where to develop photos next, the owner of Pond’s Foto Source in Guelph and Kitchener Foto Source locations will be taking prepaid online orders and then arranging drop off three times each week in Elmira at the Village Pet Food Shoppe.
Other non-digital orders such as film and video transfers, slide transfers, scanning and archiving can be dropped off and prepaid at the Kitchener or Guelph locations, and then the orders will be dropped off in Elmira, said Quinn Hollohan, the owner of the Foto Source stores.
“It’s an opportunity for us to keep doing more stuff for [people]. But it’s also like Brian had this legacy there, right? So people trust Foto Source, and trust Brian, so I hope that I can do the same thing and be able to supply a service for you guys.”
Porter will also continue to privately offer photo editing, restoration and design services.
Finally, Porter says she will be setting up the store’s final window display in the last week or two. The display will have information that customers need about where to go next for their photo needs. Porter wants the community to know the display will be a group effort.
“If people want, if they have photos from the lab, or anybody that used to work here that wants to put a message in the window, they’re more than welcome.
“And anybody that wants to send a message to Brian, if it’s like a goodbye card, retirement card, a note at all, we are taking all of those and passing them along.”
“It has been an absolute honor, being able to share so many memories over the years. And thank you.”