Hailing from England, Phil Thomas, owner and operator of Got Memories, located in the 32nd Street corridor at 3241 E. Shea Boulevard, moved to the valley in 2002. With him he brought the experience and technology of video and film transfer, as he had run a family business in his homeland doing the same thing. Starting fresh in Phoenix, Thomas began working out of his home, offering high quality film and video transfer services around the globe via an online and shipping format. He also began creating educational YouTube videos to help people teach themselves the process, with advice on specific equipment as well as the “pros and cons” of doing it yourself versus sending film and video out to be transferred to updated data mediums including DVDs, flash drives and, of course, the Cloud.
“I’ve always just tried to be as helpful as possible to people in this industry and to those who need this service through education-based marketing and offering first-class customer service, as well as high-quality transfers,” says Thomas. From his home office, Thomas opened a retail location at 35th Street and Shea to offer the local community a more “9 to 5” service versus an online send-away format. “I wanted to start catering to people that live in the neighborhood. So we can help people that are 300 steps away or 30,000 miles away,” he adds. Though Thomas receives boxes from all over the world including South Africa and Australia, he enjoys seeing the local traffic from the neighborhood. “We are around the corner and around the globe – we can literally touch all four corners of the globe,” he says.
That location wasn’t bringing in the local traffic because Got Memories was mostly online based at that time. However when he wanted to get exposure to the community, Got Memories relocated to 32nd Street and Shea. Thomas enjoys several things about his new brick-and-mortar location. A resident of the neighborhood, he boasts that his commute is a mere 30 seconds, and he also enjoys the business community in the area.
He says the recent opening of a UPS store nearby has greatly impacted his business. Admitting the tactic of putting just a little sign out to attract the foot traffic from UPS has really helped him get additional exposure. Another nearby business, the local Press Coffee has been a “gamechanger” for Thomas and his business as well. When the coffee shop opened up, Thomas admits he “networked like mad” with other coffee-lovers and says he has met so many talented techie people working out of that coffee shop. He also admits that their coffee is pretty darn good.
“I’m a coffee snob and I used to make my own coffee every morning, but now I go in every day and get my coffee there,” Thomas says of Press, which he adds brings a different caliber of clientele to the area. “The neighborhood is really evolving. It’s more of a community now and people are just really open to start talking or working out a trade between businesses,” he says.
Got Memories prides itself on high-quality transfer from any media as far back as the 1920s. They can handle any type of format from the original 16mm format to anything from that period on, and they not only work with individuals and families to preserve their memories, they’ve also worked with corporations, educational facilities (including transferring high school football films), community colleges and more. The company can convert old film and video formats including beta max, camcorder formats, VHS, slides, all film formats, photos, audio and even items that other companies say they can’t do. “We’re converting footage from the last 100 years into usable formats for today,” Thomas says, adding, “Some companies won’t work with damaged to deteriorated film but we’ve been able to transfer it with great quality results.”
Thomas says they get a lot more personal requests than corporate clients, which has led to some very heartwarming stories. “There was one customer who found some old reels from the 1950s and 1960s that they were going to just throw away because they tried going to Costco to get them transferred, but Costco couldn’t do it,” he says. “When we were able to transfer everything, she was so happy she burst into tears.”
Got Memories can transfer items onto DVDs or USB, in Dropbox, or permanently into the Cloud so it is safe and accessible forever. They also handle all phases of transfers in-house — the medium never leaves the facility. The service also includes organization so that everything is neatly organized into folders. “With all the streaming devices available today, you can watch an old movie from your cell phone or share it with longtime friends as a text message. It’s cool to think that a video shot in the 1980s can now be sent via text,” Thomas says. He reveals they have seen some very cool old footage over the years and if they come across interesting footage, they submit it to local historical societies.
“Everyone has old films or movies laying around that hold their memories and they are just waiting for the right opportunity to do it,” Thomas says of having old movies transferred to modern media. “Some people even purchase software to do it themselves, but it can take a long time and feel overwhelming if people have 50 videos tapes or they try to do it themselves and it doesn’t come out that well. We can take care of it all for you and I like to think I bring a little English charm to the business,” says Thomas charismatically. That part comes free of charge, of course, and he also says that any footage that comes back blank (many times people submit videos even if they’re not sure what’s on them, if anything), there is no charge. “We don’t nickel and dime people,” he says. “I have a very relaxed, Old School approach to business.”
However relaxed in some approaches, the company is also extremely detailed and customer-service oriented. “We have such a caring and conscientious staff that are really good at what they do,” Thomas says, “If there is a problem, we will always fix it. We treat people like we want to be treated as consumers ourselves.”
Thomas would like to let local neighbors know that if they have old footage of the 32nd Street and Shea Boulevard area (such as before the 51 Freeway was built), Got Memories will transfer it for free and feature it on their social media channels as a fun community engagement outlet. As another way to bring the community together, Got Memories and neighboring business local crafting-event shop Craft Nights are teaming up to offer viewing and craft nights where family and friends can do a craft together as they watch home movies. Thomas says he also intends to use these events as a way to educate people about the media transfer process to help those feel more comfortable with the idea of giving up their precious memories — for just a little while.
Though located right in the heart of the 32nd Street corridor, Got Memories is helping people all over the world reconnect with their most treasured memories. For more information about the process, visit www.gotmemories.com.