Just the mention of a VHS tape today is sure to bring back memories. Now, the once-popular home video format that brought us hours of entertainment is all but dead. In fact, the last major supplier of tapes, a warehouse run by Ryan Kugler, shipped its last truckload of VHS tapes sometime in October. According to Kugler, "It's dead, this is it, this is the last Christmas, without a doubt. I was the last one buying VHS and the last one selling it, and I'm done. Anything left in warehouse we'll just give away or throw away."
Although VHS tapes largely led to new businesses such as Blockbuster, you won’t find VHS relics at very many video stores around the country anymore. And while chains such as Blockbuster gave up on the VHS format a few years ago, Kugler kept offering them. Now even Kugler’s business, which specializes in capitalizing on faded and fading pop culture items, has thrown in the towel.
The last major Hollywood film to be released on VHS was A History of Violence in 2006. But even by then, most major retailers had begun phasing out the older technology in favor of DVD and now Blu-ray discs. During the transition, Kugler bought back as much inventory as he could from retailers, distributors, and studios. The way it turns out, the business model worked well for him: He managed to sell more than four million VHS tapes over the last two years. You may have seen some of Kugler’s tapes at chains such as Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and Family Dollar. He also sold to public libraries, military bases, and cruise ships.
We knew the final days of VHS were coming at some point. In October, JVC announced that it would no longer make standalone VHS recorders. The company still makes hybrid VHS-DVD players, but it’s not clear how much longer they will continue to do so.
Even though Kugler’s company has made its final shipment, he estimates that two million tapes are on store shelves across the country. And while the VHS tape may not stand much of a chance in comparison to a DVD today, we will always have fond memories of how VHS changed the industry and brought entertainment home.