Anyone in the market for a VCR right now might be shocked at the sticker price they are seeing for a used or refurbished VCR.
Since they are an old technology that really isn’t used anymore then why are VCRs still so expensive?
VCRs are no longer being manufactured, so there is a dwindling supply of VCRs as well the parts needed to keep them in good working condition. Demand for VCRs is up for people still trying to transfer their tapes to digital before they deteriorate further and become unplayable. The lack of supply and increased demand means higher prices.
The good news is if you are one of these people there are still some great options for finding a VCR in good working order. But first, let’s explain why a VCR / VHS player is still so expensive.
5 Reasons Why VCRs are Still So Expensive
There are several reasons why a VHS player can be expensive despite being a vastly outdated technology.
1. Supply Is Dwindling as VCRs Are No Longer Manufactured
According to Forbes, the last brand new VCR was produced in 2016 which marked the end of an era where VHS ruled the 70s, 80s and part of the 90s.
The VCR opened the doors to household consumers for renting and watching movies at home, which itself essentially killed drive-in movies.
Once the DVD format was introduced and became popular in the 2000s it signed the end of the VCR as DVD was a much higher quality format that also allowed users to skip and skim through movies with ease.
Interest in VCRs continued to decline through the 2000s into the 2010s when production was eventually halted.
Not only was the production of VCRs halted, but so were the parts needed to keep a VCR in good working order. Ever look inside a VCR? Tons of moving parts, honestly it is a technological masterpiece and tough to believe it ever worked.
2. The VCR and TV Repair Guy Is Retired
Contributing to the scarcity problem is that there is no place to repair a VCR anymore.
Nearly every town back in the day had a repair shop that fix massive tube-style TVs as well as camcorders and other vintage electronics.
Now everything is disposable, especially TVs, so the “repair guy” profession has gone the way of the dodo.
So when a VCR breaks or stops working, people just throw them out for the most part. This contributes to the ever-dwindling supply.
3. Demand For VCRs Is Increasing
Nobody wants a VCR.
Except for people that need a VCR – they need a VCR – and bad!
Since the production of VCRs has halted, it has almost created a natural panic among those who still have VHS tapes that they want to play the tapes or transfer to digital.
Anyone without VHS tapes that they want to play or convert wouldn’t pay a dime for a VCR, but ask anyone that does have VHS tapes that they want to play or convert to digital and most have a slight panic to them about how they are going to get them transferred.
The memories captured on many of the VHS and VHS-C tapes are priceless and can’t be replaced, and it would be such a waste to let them waste away as time degrades video tapes.
Just think of special events such as weddings, birthday parties, and baby showers that are captured on these tapes. People that want to see these again, and hopefully transfer them to digital, are the must-have buyers.
In addition, in the past few years during the COVID pandemic, many people found themselves with more time on their hands. For many, the task of transferring old video tapes to digital finally rose on the to-do list, and was something fun to do while passing the time.
So this has created a natural increase in demand for VCRs among VHS tape owners like myself.
4. Fewer Places Selling VCRs
Do you remember the last time you saw a VCR for sale in a retail store? It’s been decades…
Now you might see them on the shelf at a thrift store, but that’s about it.
If you really need a VCR then you need to find them at a used marketplace or a website that restores VCRs back to good working condition.
Remember there are belts and motors and all kinds of things that can go wrong inside of a VCR, so buying one that is decades old and hasn’t been professionally refurbished is a bit of a crap shoot.
There are fewer and fewer vintage electronic stores that are capable of and still refurbish VCRs.
5. Cost of Transferring Tapes to Digital Can Be Expensive
If you have a bunch of tapes to transfer to digital it can get expensive to have someone do the transfer for you.
The reason it can be expensive is the transfer services also have to keep their equipment maintained, plus there is no speedy way to transfer tapes so it is a very manual and time-consuming process.
For those that find it unaffordable to pay a service to transfer their tapes due to a large number of tapes, buying a VCR and a cheap transfer device and doing it yourself can be a cheaper option.
We have a complete breakdown of the cost to transfer VHS to digital for the top video transfer services if you are interested in reading more on the cost.
The natural decrease in the supply of VCRs due to no longer being manufactured, and the increase in demand among people with precious memories stuck on tapes have caused the price of quality VCRs to increase.
The Good News: is there is plenty of places you can still buy a VCR in good working condition, and they are not all expensive.
A used VCR on eBay can go for as little as $20, but most likely won’t come with a warranty. Buying a fully refurbished VCR from certified online retailers will cost more like $100 to $200.