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The real Mystic Color makes a comeback

John Shaeffer , Sep 02, 2003; 05:14 a.m.

The real Mystic Color Lab (not the Clark in name only Mystic) is coming back: Here is the article from The Day, a New London, Ct. newspaper that was printed on August 25. The grand opening on the business was August 29:

Staff Of Former Photo Lab Confident In Developing New Company

By JOE WOJTAS Day Staff Columnist Published on 8/25/2003

Mystic — During the dark days of last winter, just after a Swiss conglomerate closed the Mystic Color Lab and put 120 people out of work, color lab President Edward McCabe gathered with some of his fellow employees.

“We said, ‘Do you think we could do this all over again?' ” McCabe recalled.

It took five months. But on Friday, McCabe and seven other color lab employees will open ABC PhotoLab in the Mystic Packer Building on Roosevelt Avenue.

While the new photo finishing company will start small, McCabe and the others in the locally owned firm see it growing.

“I'd like to see it get to the size Mystic Color Lab was,” McCabe said Sunday. “We had 120 people and I'd feel good if I could employ 120 people in this community again.”

The sudden closing of the color lab closing surprised McCabe and his employees, who praised him for his six years of running the company. The color lab was also known for its strong support of the community and ABC PhotoLab continued that tradition with its support of the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival this month.

McCabe said that last March he and fellow color lab officials Janet Grant, D. Bruce Tetlow and Donna Criscoulo began developing a business plan.

“We said, ‘Suppose we went local and got wholesale accounts.' We ran the numbers and it looked pretty good. We then convinced ourselves that we could make a go of it at that point,” McCabe said.

The group then began to look for funding and investors but had some trouble with the slumping economy. Early last month, McCabe said five Mystic residents, whom he said do not wish to be identified, agreed to provide the financial backing for the business. More recently the southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region has extended a line of credit to ABC PhotoLab.

The company name is meant to recall the former ABC Film Company that was the original parent company of the Mystic Color Lab, founded by Stanley Popiel in 1969. It was then sold to a Swiss company in 1989, and it closed last winter.

Unlike Mystic Color Lab, which is primarily a mail order business, McCabe said ABC would handle local film processing orders as well as larger photo orders for businesses.

“We're not starting out in the mail order arena,” McCabe said.

He said the business would use the latest production equipment to service both digital and traditional film orders. This may give the company an advantage as more and more people use digital cameras. Customers will even be able to e-mail images to be printed as well as drop off film at the Packer building.

“We're designing it for the digital age. We're going in with the latest equipment,” he said.

Gary Silk of Westerly, who worked 14 years as the color lab's production manager, will hold the same position at ABC. He said, “Virtually anything the customer can get to us we'll be able to print it.”

“I'm really excited about this,” he said. “As a business it has a pretty good chance. We have people who have been doing this a long time,” he said. “This is good news for us, and good news for the community. We're hoping the community will come back.”

The businesses Web site is www.ABCPhotoLab.com I would have liked to link you to the page at the newspaper website, but the article expired and you had to get a password to access it. You have to fill in a lot of personal info to do this although it is free. I'll keep an eye on further developments now that I am signed up.

I tried the web site but it wouldn't come up this morning. I certainly wish them well, but I suppose this will be a real challenge for them. If they were willing to accept mail order film, I'd certainly send it there without hesitation.


Thang Hoang , Sep 02, 2003; 09:59 a.m.

It's sad to see that the lab was closed. Although I never used them, I have driven by their place many times while on vacation in Mystic. I've been there 6 times in the last 10 years. It's a great town.

I'm glad to learn that they are a supporter of the community and festival. I'm a firm believer in supporting the community businesses when financially practical.

I got to experience the festival for the first time this year. There were just so many great photos. In fact, for the first time ever, I purchases a print to hang in my living room. I just had a blast walking around.

Here's a little funny anectdote. Unfortunately I had to cut the browsing short. My daughter accidently dropped her sandal into the river off of the drawbridge. Of all the days for her to do that. I had to carry her from the bridge all the way back to Mystic Pizza (opposite ends of downtown). It's all good for a family laugh now. :-)

I'll have to lookup ABC Photo Lab when I'm back there again. It would be great to get your prints done the same day you take them while on vacation.

Walter Degroot , Sep 02, 2003; 10:54 p.m.

i wish them well but according to the www it is not there the web site may be down or something.

the yahoo yellow pages for mystic reports 4 places, all looking like mini-labs, i'll try again i used them and they seemed good back then.

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