Lawrence Photo to leave downtown after 125 years for move to Normandie Center

WICHITA — After 125 years in the greater downtown area, Lawrence Photo is leaving.

“When you leave the core area of the city that you’ve been in for 125 years … it’s a tough decision to make,” says owner Paul Hudson.

He’s moving the store from 401 E. Douglas to Normandie Center at Central and Woodlawn.

“I thought it was just the sweetest intersection of the city,” Hudson says.

That’s because Normandie is home to the Twizted Confections and Sweetly Scrumptious bakeries.

“And then I’m going to round it out with Whole Foods on the healthy side,” Hudson says.

He also likes that the Seafood Shop and Yoder Meats are there, and Great Harvest Bread Co. is nearby across Woodlawn.

“I don’t have to drive to go to the grocery store ever again,” Hudson says.

“I like the neighborhood, and it still has a neighborhood feel. The demographics are right there.”

The business started in 1877 as Lawrence Drug Store and was located downtown where the Intrust Bank parking garage is now. Hudson says in 1888 owner Charles Lawrence signed the first Kodak dealership west of the Mississippi with George Eastman of Eastman Kodak.

In more recent years, Hudson has expanded his business to include custom framing along with printing.

“It’s a major portion of business,” he says. “We’re certainly wanting to expand that framing and printing.”

At the new space, which is in the 3,000 square feet where Pathfinder Birkenstock used to be, Hudson will begin having photography classes. He says he’s been getting a lot of requests for them.

The store also sells photography equipment and supplies, including film, which Hudson processes and prints.

Lawrence Photo has been in its current space for almost a decade. The Normandie space, which should open late this month, will make the store’s sixth location in 125 years. Hudson says it should be his last move.

“I hope so,” he says. “Moving a store is a big undertaking.”

That doesn’t mean he won’t open another store, though. Now that he’ll be on the east side, Hudson says he wants to think west, too.

“I’m leaving open the possibility for a west-side location,” he says. “That’s my ultimate goal.”

Hudson says he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself with a second store too quickly, though.

“That’s on the horizon. That’s not today or tomorrow.”