Tucked away just off Yale and 15th street in the heart of the Heights for 75 years, a family-owned jewel is shutting its doors — but it’s not saying goodbye.
Parsley Studios has weathered various economic fluctuations, watched the once-quaint neighborhood transform into a bustling main street and seen many shops come and go since opening their doors in 1942. But it always stood as a beacon of the old days against an increasingly bustling backdrop before deciding to shut it down.
“The economy has gone up and down, but we’ve managed to stay here for 75 years, and we’re one of the few studios in the neighborhood—most everything else is downtown,” Janet Parsley said. “We’re not selling the business, exactly, but we’re selling the building. The phone number and everything will be the same.”
While Parsley and several generations have poured blood, sweat and tears into the shop for three quarters of a century, she said the extenuating circumstances dictated that the writing was on the wall.
“My mother died in 2013, and she left everything to me, and I have to divide it between two of my three brothers, and I need to sell this so I can get them their share of the inheritance,” she said. “If I could make enough money here so I could give them money from what we make [at the shop] that would be fine, but I can’t do that — I just have to sell it.”
Parsley’s quaint little shop has been home to many family memories, and many a pleasant interaction as customer and shop owners collaborated on personal portraits and preservation of history alike.
“It’s easy to get to, it’s been in a neighborhood that’s quiet. It’s an old neighborhood with a lot of history to it,” she said. “My brother was born in ’53, and my father asked my mother if we had somebody who could take care of him. She came down to help out, and never went home to stay.”
Customers as far as Los Angeles, New York and anywhere in between have flocked to the little hole in the wall shop off Yale, and it has been home to photo shoots from the Kubiaks to Loretta Lynn, Roy Rogers and more—though not without some bumps.
“When my father died [years ago], people thought we were gone, since they saw the obituary,” Parsley said with a wry laugh. “But then my brother suggested we take part in the Heights Festival, and we had people come from all over the state and were so enthused about the pictures.”
While the physical studio withstood that bump, as rising taxes and restrictions and, townhomes and expansive properties spring up, Parsley said the combination of extenuating circumstances and changing of the times created the perfect storm for vacating its long-time home. Though the decision remains very much up in the air, Parsley remains adamant the family will continue to keep their eyes open for opportunities to install an in-home studio that mimics the current setting.
In the meantime, however, those purveyors of classic Heights photos and personal portraits won’t be forced to trek downtown — the avenue of handoff will simply adapt to the times.
“We don’t need to have a studio so much, and we just can’t have people coming to the house because we’re in a restricted area,” she said. “But we can still have people call us to come meet them and pick their pictures up at the house or have them delivered.”
Parsley Studios officially closed up July 31, with 75 days from the aforementioned date to leave the store. In the coming weeks, the Studio will host a liquidation sale, with most everything selling for low or near zero.
For this longtime neighborhood staple, this may be bidding a physical adieu — but despite the changing times, the beat will go on. Parsley can still be reached at 713-869-4641.