Ode To VHS

Distribution Video and Audio is the last major supplier of VHS tapes, and it's ceasing distribution at the end of the year. Co-owner Ryan Kugler talks with Scott Simon about the end of video tapes.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Remember this sound? It's a VHS tape going into a machine. Now, it's a blast from the past because if you're taking advantage of post-Christmas sales, you should know VHS tapes will be hard to come by. DVDs have overtaken videotape this decade. There was at least one company still hanging on to the old technology, at least until now.

Distribution Video and Audio will stop buying and selling VHS tapes this year. One of the company's co-owners, Ryan Kugler, joins us from his office in Burbank, California. Mr. Kugler, thanks so much for being with us.

Mr. RYAN KUGLER (Co-Owner, Distribution Video and Audio): I appreciate the opportunity.

SIMON: So how long have you been in the VHS tape business?

Mr. KUGLER: Eighteen years.

SIMON: Who's still been buying VHS tapes, let's say, these past two or three years? When not only DVDs, but downloads increasingly are coming into play.

Mr. KUGLER: A lot of consumers are now buying VHS. The last of the dollar discount chains were the last ones to buy from us, because we're a wholesaler to retail. And those are chains like, you know, Dollar Tree, which I believe still has some units in their stores, and Dollar General, and other 99-Cent only stores here in the West Coast.

SIMON: So what forced you to stop or decide to stop making the tapes?

Mr. KUGLER: Supply and demand. The demand has diminished. VHS is an old technology. It's also an old format, and people basically are not looking for that anymore. You can still find some VCRs for sale on the Internet. But at retail, they're pretty much not sold anymore as a single unit by themselves. They're only sold as a VHS/DVD player. And I think that's really for the people that have VHS still on their shelves. They still watch movie if they want to or if kids want to.

But the demand to us, as a wholesaler, has diminished because there's these wonderful new formats like Blu-Ray.

SIMON: Well, and that raises this question, because you folks were cutting edge technology 18 years ago, what have you got your eye on next?

Mr. KUGLER: Well, we are doing DVD and Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray is the more advanced form of DVD. And you know, we were also ones who helped to end the HD format. HD was the competing format with Blu-Ray.

SIMON: Are DVDs a little dated themselves?

Mr. KUGLER: I would say no and yes. They are not because you can walk into any Best Buy, Target, Sears, Kmart, Wal-Mart and still find DVDs. You can go to iTunes and other such sites, as Movie Link and CinemaNow, and download movies. Although, the length of time that it takes might be a little annoying, at least for me.

So probably in that same amount of time, I can get in the car and go buy a DVD and then have all these extra features, like commentary and deleted scenes, that you could not get when you download a film.

SIMON: I wonder, Mr. Kugler, what happens to VHS players? I mean, do they become household furniture, beautiful coffee tables?

Mr. KUGLER: Schools still use VCRs.

SIMON: Ah.

Mr. KUGLER: You can donate any VCRs to any schools or libraries.

SIMON: Mr. Kugler, awfully nice talking to you.

Mr. KUGLER: I appreciate it as well.

SIMON: Ryan Kugler of Distribution Video and Audio in Burbank, California, the last major supplier of VHS tapes. They're going to stop distributing them just a couple of days from now. This is NPR News.

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