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Preserving Memories
for a Lifetime

By Audrey Hanes, photography by Cody Moore

For many, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, the preservation of priceless memories with family and friends has never felt more important. Thanks to the services of Jonesboro’s Wade Stark, Save it Again can help keep memories alive before they are lost forever.

Stark began his VHS converting business in 2011 after the loss of several family members. He says it was the only way to really preserve his family’s memories at that point, so he began transferring home movies to digital form.

“I wanted to preserve memories from family get-togethers, special moments when my sons were little kids and some of the happiest days of my life, like my wedding tape,” said Stark. “(I have) a short 15 to 20 second clip of my grandma, who’s been gone since 1988. That is the only video I have of my sweet grandma; I treasure it.

“Over time, after I began to learn more about the process and was taken aback by the large number of friends and other family members who wanted to do the same thing, this became a side hustle,” said Stark. “In 2016, my wife, Karla, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and while I was off on FMLA with Karla and I was away from work, friends brought lots of movies to keep me very busy and help keep my sanity.”

Once his wife began to recover from her long battle with breast cancer, Stark had to decide if his VHS transferring business was here to stay.

“At that point, it was time to make the decision to basically shelve Save it Again or, as they say, go big or go home,” said Stark. “After careful thought and prayer and seeking feedback and advice from family and friends, I felt like the opportunity and the need in the community was there.”

The following year, Stark ordered a custom building that was built and delivered to his property. He also began acquiring the tools and equipment he would need to operate his business well and to be able to offer competitive pricing. He officially launched Save it Again VHS to DVD in 2017, and Jonesboro and the surrounding area have kept him busy ever since.

“My work is pretty unique in that I’m working to preserve clients’ memories that in many cases are several decades old,” said Stark. “I work on orders that are fairly recent items, like helping a client free up space on an iPhone, to (things like) 16mm reels from the 1940s. Some orders are pretty common; an order that’s 24 VHS tapes is pretty basic. 

“I get unusual requests pretty often, also. Recently a client asked me to capture and preserve digital images from a floppy disk. I wasn’t aware that there was such a device. There was, and I was able to assist that client in retrieving and preserving some really special moments from a wedding years ago.”

Save it Again services include converting, preserving and digitizing camcorder/VHS tapes, 8mm or 16mm projector reels, slide pictures, physical pictures and even cassette tapes. Prices vary from $20 for one VHS tape to $10 per tape if a client brings in 25 tapes to be converted at the same time.

When he first started, Stark says most of his clients wanted their memories saved to DVDs, but as time went on, most of his clients now ask for flash drives. In the last couple of years, he has also been able to send clients a link to access their memories and download them to their own devices.

Perhaps most importantly, Stark wants to emphasize the importance of preserving memories in a timely manner before tapes are lost to time.

“One of the challenges with this work is people typically have memories and movies that they want to preserve, but they aren’t a high priority,” said Stark. “Of course, the other challenge is many people still don’t know I provide the service. I hope that by people seeing the story they will know the services that are available, (and) they will also feel a sense of urgency because I am seeing more and more cases of dry rot and poor audio and video, which is just part of the breakdown process over a period of time. That will only get worse with time. 

“… I never lose sight of the opportunity and privilege that I have when the next client drops off their memories, often in a plastic shopping bag and sometimes in a cigar box. These are the clients’ most precious and irreplaceable memories. I must take great care to ensure they have the pleasure of reliving those special moments, just as I continue to have with my family memories some 10 years later.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has put the preservation of memories into perspective, and Stark says he has been busier in 2020 than ever before. Prior to COVID, his typical turnaround time was two to three weeks, and that time is now five to six weeks.

“2020 is most definitely a year unlike any other we have ever seen,” said Stark. “So many of the things we have always taken for granted have been taken from us – temporarily, we hope. For most of my clients, the desire to preserve their family memories is either to rekindle relationships that over the years just faded with time or in some cases a client’s family member is close by yet because of COVID and health concerns, being in the same room is just not possible. With the technology/media options I can offer, families can often view their memories via FaceTime or Zoom. So, while not together in the same room or maybe not even from the same state or country, family and friends can still share memories, together, while apart.

“And even though COVID has basically made us hit the pause button for so many things we want or used to do, the truth is that VHS tapes, camcorder tapes, projector reels, slide pics, pic turns and cassette tapes will continue to physically deteriorate, because that’s just part of the aging process for physical media compared to digital media. In the past several months, I’m seeing VHS tapes that have actual dry rot, projector reels that are so fragile they crumble when handled and pictures fading and sticking together, which damages the images. The aging and deterioration process will continue to march on in spite of all the things happening in the world.”

For more information on pricing and services, call (870) 919-8125, email saveitagain@yahoo.com or find Save it Again VHS to DVD on Facebook.