By Ryan Hill

STOCKTON (CBS13) —  You never know what you’ll find in your attic if you have spare time to clean it. Just ask Richard Martinez.

“I happened to be cleaning up. I happened to be going through the Christmas stuff and I found a shoebox full of all of these tapes that I had. And, they’re like 30 years old,” Martinez said.

Martinez said the tapes weren’t labeled and he no longer had the camera to watch what was on them. Like many others, he wanted to know what was on them.

Now, grainy old videos from the past are making their way from places like Martinez’s attic to Tim Ulmer’s photography store in Stockton.

“I’m up 35 percent to 40 percent in the number of volume in the type of orders I’m doing,” Ulmer said.

Ulmer says “COVID cleaning” is leading to the increase in business. It’s a financial shot in the arm for Ulmer during the pandemic.

“I’ve some orders where some people have brought in 50 to 100 tapes,” Ulmer said.

And it doesn’t stop with VHS tapes. Others bringing in film reels, pictures, even negatives, preserving the past in the digital era.

“There has been people who have gone out of their way that say, ‘I’ve finally taken the time now that I have to stay at home,’” Ulmer said.

It’s bringing back cherished memories for Martinez as he is able to watch and look back at Christmases past with his kids who were little and now in their 30’s.

“It’s just nice to reflect how much we as parents have actually given to them,” Martinez said.

It also allows him to connect with other parts of his past that he has done for his parents.

“I had done a 50th wedding anniversary for my parents and I had done a really nice tape for them that I had totally forgotten about and, shoot, they just celebrated their 80th,” Martinez said.

Being able to give people back these memories is what seals the deal for Ulmer.

“So, the next generations are given their legacy of family history,” Ulmer said.

It’s bringing history and happiness from the attic into the light in time where it’s desperately needed.

“It’s true and old memories, good memories are always good for the heart. So, I kind of feel like people are trying to get back to a happy place,” Martinez said.

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