Mommy, where do videos go when they die?

Ever since our appearance on The One Show last year, people with boxes, attics, lofts, basements and garages full of unwanted videos have been calling. Understandably, most people don’t want a bunch of old VHS to continue taking up space and collecting dust in their homes.

The recycling plant for VHS, previously in Bristol, has closed down. Charity shops are packed to the rafters with the darned unsaleable things. So I understand why, after hearing about our store, with its wall of VHS, people would think we might be just the ticket for finally dispensing with one’s home collection of unloved movies.

Unfortunately, we don’t always want them either.

Most of the time it’s because we already have them. Our collection is a little over 19,000 strong (mostly DVD, a couple hundred Blu-ray and a couple thousand VHS). If something is super rare – say you have some video nasties – then yeah, we’d take those. But, tends to be that if you do have such beasts you either a) don’t want to offload ’em or b) do but know that they’re worth summat, so you take to eBay. Much as we’d like to have those puppies, we’re a video shop and it’s 2016 so, you know, we can’t really afford to pay £200 a pop for summat that may never even see the light of rental day.

What happens, then, to the hundreds and thousands of VHS in your homes?

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Unless you’re super recycle conscious, it’s unlikely you can be bothered to take them apart and separately recycle the individual components. So, I dare say, many of them turn to landfill.

And that’s what’s likely to happen with all those DVDs you’re amassing, too.

Despite the decline of home entertainment sales – and the close to obliteration of the rental industry – DVDs, and indeed Blu-rays, are still being made. But even if they’re picked up for a pound or two in the sale bins, it’s unlikely you’ll keep them forever.

Maybe you will re-watch Die Hard, and All About Eve. But will you really return to The Knowing? That’s a stretch, and I say this as a bona fide Nic Cage devotee.

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This is not my way of making a case for the internet. Rather, it’s my way of pointing out how sad the fate of so many physical copies of movies truly is. It’s also why a rental store is the kind of thing you ought to support.

We’re actually more environmentally friendly and cost effective than physically buying the stuff yourself. And we don’t throw stuff away just because it’s a bit crap – we have plenty of terrible movies and we intend to keep ’em for as long as you want to come rent ’em. What we have become is a sort of library. We keep stuff as best we can (including donations of stuff we don’t have, just that we can’t take duplicates) which means our selection is bigger and better than the majority of what’s available through online streaming platforms. We don’t have everything and we are aware of that, but we have a lot.

However, and this is the point I really want to make, what we don’t do is add to the problem of rampant consumerism and landfill culture. We’re not into making you buy stuff at an accelerated rate so that you can fill your homes with crap and we don’t throw out a tonne of films to landfill – even when our collection of ex-rentals is blocking access to the counter. Kinda like it is right now.

So stumble on in, make your way through the trenches of display cases and find something to watch without contributing to the great plastic waste. We’ll do our best to remain a repository for things you might like to see but not own. Because we’re just about the closest thing that there is to home entertainment heaven.

 

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Let’s Talk VHS

You may have seen us talking VHS on The One Show on Tuesday night. If you didn’t, then you can catch up online via the iPlayer (we’re at around 12 mins in): http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0671464/the-one-show-25082015

Since the show aired we’ve been inundated with calls and emails asking us if we want to take on home collections. For the most part, the only titles we do keep on VHS are those that aren’t available on DVD in this country. That means that about 95% of the time we already have what you have. Still, if you think you might have something super rare (if you’ve a video nasties collection you no longer need for example), then do send us a list of titles. That way we can check them out and let you know if we can take them off your hands.

Even though magnetic tape is in no way a superior, or even stable, format, there is a whole heap of nostalgia that surrounds it. It’s a strange beast, VHS, because we’ve reached a point where we don’t know what to do with them any more. No one wants them. Charity stores have been overrun with home collections, recycling plants have closed down and you can’t just chuck them out with your regular rubbish. To this end, eBay is fast becoming the best place to offload the clunky old things.

But because we do have a hoard of great films that we can’t get on DVD, we keep a couple of thousand in the shop, along with a VCR or two, to rent out to those of you whose viewing habits won’t be hindered by the arrival of discs and streaming.

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And if you do love VHS, and indeed 20th century video shop culture, then we’d like to extend an invitation to you to attend one of our Scalarama strands: VHStival. Throughout September, every Saturday night – that’s the 5th, 12th, 19th & 26th – we’re running some late night lucky dip VHS celebratory hang outs!

We’ll be screening stuff from our weird and wonderful collection in both the Kino and at the counter from 10pm till around 12am. It’s free to turn up, seats won’t be allocated as it’s more of a ‘drop in and hang about’ kind of thing than an actual screening. We’ll have tea, coffee, soft drinks and popcorn on the go, plus you can do some late night film renting if you like.

I’d also like to encourage people to share their video shop stories – in person, or via email if you can’t come along and hang out on our VHStival nights. Video shops aren’t just for renting movies, they’re also spaces for conversations about films. So come along, have a chat, a damn fine coffee and duck into the Kino for a bit to see something of this ilk: http://www.wow247.co.uk/2015/08/19/8-bizarre-vhs-movies-we-found-in-our-video-vault/