VHS cassette tapes helped launch the video revolution, making movies available for home consumption on a wide scale. But the format has since been supplanted by DVDs, which last longer and provide a clearer picture. The last large-scale purveyors of VHS cassettes have either shut their doors or switched to DVD. That leaves a number of consumers with used VHS tapes who have likely upgraded to DVD themselves. If you are one of them, you can sell those used tapes and make a little money back without an undue amount of fuss.
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Gather your used VHS tapes into a single location and take an inventory. Check the tapes themselves to see what condition they are in and examine the covers for any tears, scratches, fades or water stains. Compile a list of every movie in the collection and note any specific damage each one has.
Mark any VHS tape in your collection which may be rare or unusual. Foreign films, hard-to-find cult classics and movies which are not yet available on DVD may be worth more than the others. On the other hand, popular titles such as Jurassic Park or Back to the Future (any blockbuster from the 1980s or 1990s) are probably not worth much at all.
Contact a local music or video store and ask them if they buy used VHS tapes. Larger chains probably won't, but smaller stores and those with an "indie" clientele (such as Amoeba Records in California) sometimes purchase movies and records in an obsolete format. Check the neighbourhoods around any nearby colleges or universities. They are more likely to contain an indie music store than a suburban mall or shopping centre.
Set up an account on eBay and offer your VHS tapes for sale. Customers from all over the world bid on items through eBay, which increases your pool of potential buyers and makes it easier to get a decent price for your tapes. eBay also offers a special service, called Half.com, which specialises in used VHS tapes.
Contact your local swap meet or flea market and see about getting a spot to sell your tapes directly. The registration cost is usually minimal, and bargain hunters flock to local swap meets on a regular basis. You may be able to sell VHS tapes with damaged covers there, which is harder to do at a video store or online auction site.
Tips and warnings
- If you have a large number of VHS tapes, consider bundling them together and selling them in bulk. You can offer the whole collection or just groups of three or four tapes featuring a single star or genre. You might not make a great deal more than you would selling them individually, but they often move more quickly in a bundle, and the overall price you get may be more heartening that selling the collection piecemeal for pennies a tape.
- Don't expect the moon when settling on a price for used VHS tapes. They are a rapidly dying format, and there just isn't much demand for them anymore. Rare tapes or hard-to-find movies may fetch a little bit extra, but otherwise, you shouldn't reasonably hope for more than 25 to 50 cents per tape in the best of circumstances.
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