Another Era, Another Facility For Lamborn’s

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An Athens business that has spent decades uptown will be moving a short distance away, for parking and a smaller space.

Fred and Christine Tom have been running Lamborn's Studio, the business they inherited from Fred's father, in their West State Street facility since 1988.

In the Spring, they will be moving from their 11,000 square foot gallery to a smaller space on Stimson Avenue near Kentucky Fried Chicken.

"We had the opportunity to sell the building," said Christine Tom. "This is really more space than we need."

What was once a framing and photography-focused business has expanded to include antiques and art products.

The building was built in the 1920s to be a car dealership, then became a bottling plant and a furniture store before Fred's father, Darrel Tom, took over. The business had a Court Street location in the Berkeley Building before moving to the West State Street location.

Utilizing the Internet, Christine said the business has changed and scaled down what they need to keep in stock.

But what will be most affected in the business will be the sacrifice of Fred's 1,000-foot photography studio.

"It will change my perspective on photographs, with the plan to go to about a 12×20 space," Fred Tom said.

Tom said he plans to encourage customers to do more photographs on location rather than in the studio.

"We have always encouraged people to have photos done in places that are special to them," Tom said.

Portrait photos might involve a green screen background, he said, which ties in with the digitization that the business — and photography in general — has gone through in the last decade.

The store has gone from 11 employees to four and people come to the store as more of "a destination," Christine Tom said.

Employee Kait Runevitch, the store's master framer still remains with the business and Christine Tom said she will like take over when the Toms retire.

"The photography business has changed," Fred Tom said. "We were working with film and chemicals and then it went to digital and computers."

The restoration work that the business does has gone up with the increased technology that the Toms have learned. They've picked up new techniques and evolved with the business despite feeling that the traditions of their family business have been lost.

"People take so many photos per person now and they're all on their phones," Fred Tom said. "For me, the true value of photography is remembering people and seeing the memories on the wall or in photo albums."

Fred Tom said he wants to try taking photos taken on phones and making them into photography fit for framing and albums.

The new building, formerly a medical supply business, provides opportunities the Toms didn't have in their business before. They will be able to run a smaller operation, but keep the operation running until they are ready to retire and hand the reins to future generations, Christine Tom said.

There is one major benefit, though, that sold the Toms on a new location.

"We need more parking," Christine Tom said.