Camera shop takes root in Railroad Square

Quon Poole-McAroy Owner of Same Ol Film Shop posing storefront.
Photo Courtesy: Jaela Davis

Tucked away in Railroad Square Art District just minutes away from FAMU is a lime green tin building with light brown wooding for entry. Inside is a home for creatives, artists and those who simply share a joy for creating memories.

Same Ol Film Shop, a camera and film business, was founded in March. What started as a hobby eventually ventured to fruition with a storefront located at 680 Industrial Drive.

This shop provides products and services including film cameras, film, film equipment, film development, scans, and minimal camera repair.

The owner is Quan Poole-McAroy, an entrepreneur and creative. First introduced to photography by his mother as a child, McAroy is no stranger to the art of photography. His Instagram profile consists of 867 followers and occupied by loyal film enthusiasts in Tallahassee and beyond.

“To bring out the film community in Tallahassee is what inspired me to open this shop,” McAroy said. “To sell film cameras and film and my love for film is what inspired me.”

With film photography making a  comeback in a digital era, the demand for development and available cameras has increased and taking over small and large cities by storm. The pandemic allowed for many to pick up this new skill, return to it, or simply get better at it.

According to The Camera and Imaging Products Association, “the camera industry might finally be seeing stability after a rough few years.”  Camera sales up 9% since this time last year, which is  significant, according to the association.

This business is a benefit to many and could not have been done at a better time as life as we know it is transforming on a consistent basis. One thing is for certain for this business owner and that is community.

When asked about location selection, McAroy said the Railroad Square Art Park was a great fit. Railroad Square Art Park has a rich history of different creative spaces and small businesses in one neighborhood including coffee shops, thrift stores, vintage pinball arcade and indoor rock climbing.

“Railroad Square is a great location, it’s community based, everyone out here took care of me, even from the head owner, everyone has shown me a lot of love,” McAroy said. “I love this spot and its definitely a place for my shop to get a lot of recognition too.”

When you enter his shop, it feels like home. A minimal setup including vintage pieces such as a rack of streetwear, magazines and even a Malcom X skateboard display add to the aesthetic and theme of memories. The owner, comfortable in his element, greets you with an eager smile and welcoming spirits.

The cameras are displayed in glass casing, and film is shelved on the wall in an organized fashion. With different purposes for film, McAroy has different cameras and film for beginners, those in between, and the experienced.

The costs for services are affordable for the college film community it caters to. Before Same Ol Film Shop, individuals had to risk shipping and paying expensive costs for development, scans and purchasing a new film camera. Now, this shop provides a sense of relief to those involved.

Pierre Touze, a Florida A&M alumnus, needed a camera strap and figured he would be able to get one from Same Ol Film Shop.

“I went there looking for one and the overall energy was really genuine,”  Touze said.

Touze, is now a satisfied customer at Same Ol Film Shop.

“My first experience at Same Ol Film Shop was mad dope. I went first Friday for their grand opening, I had just recently ventured into the world of photography,” Touze said.

McAroy said: “The energy and the people are what keeps me going. It’s been a lot of good energy since I opened, all the film photographers just came out of nowhere, I didn’t even know it was this many people shooting film.”

In person interactions leave lasting impressions in a social media driven era. McAroy has found much success in simply talking and actively engaging with customers.

“When someone comes in here we’re guaranteed to have at least a 30-minute conversation about film, plus they like to shop,” McAroy said. “When you come see film cameras or film in general, you’re like a kid in a candy store.” Representation means a lot to those who create, and McAroy creating Same Ol Film shop provided a grand sense of that.

“If you are a person of color and love photography this is a destination you would really appreciate,” Touze said.

Photography holds great meaning to a large community of people. Photographers, artists, creatives all use this medium to be expressive, yet it has different meanings to each individual.

“Film means everything, because you get to capture those moments, it’s the memory side of it,” McAroy said. “I remember a family member passing away and all I had were pictures to look at so that was everything, and I cherish it.”