I worked at Cal Photo to help pay for my Cal Poly tuition in the early 1980’s.
Bill Hinote had bought the business from his father and for decades the two places to buy cameras in town were Jim’s Campus Camera and Cal Photo.
Bill loved to talk about flying his glider and could make anyone feel comfortable about opening their wallet to buy a camera.
They used to have a memorable radio ad that would talk about a featured product then a reverb-drenched voice would come on echoing Caaaaalllll Phoooootoooooooo.
Usually the customers were a lot of fun to talk to and it was a great place to learn about the latest gear. Some days you would get a question that left you scratching your head.
“Do batteries with flat bottoms have more power than ones with dimples?”
“Do you have cameras that take pictures at the speed of light?”
Then there was the guy that brought in the Nikonos camera in a coffee can of seawater. He had opened it, underwater, to change the film.
“I thought it was O.K. It’s an underwater camera, right?”
“It won’t rust as long as it is in seawater will it?”
During a big rain, water would pond on the roof of the building and come down the inside of the Morro Street wall. The unwanted water feature would result in a quick rearrangement of floor items and towels on the floor until the cloudburst passed.
No one mourned the building when the French family bought the property and knocked it over and later the Copeland family built the Downtown Centere.
Today the corner of Morro and Higuera is the location of the Apple store. I should ask them if they have cameras that take pictures at the speed of light.
Jim’s is still open down the street and the spirit of Cal Photo lives on when the photo-finishing manager, Peggy Mesler, opened the Photo Shop on Marsh Street.