If you're like most people, you probably have a closet full of VHS tapes that you want to watch or record to a DVD or even to your PC. Odds are that you either have a defective VCR, or no VCR at all. This means that you are likely looking for a working VCR, which can lead to a long and hard hunt.
The good news is that you can still buy a VCR, just not as easily as you are used to. A lot depends on your budget. If you are looking to spend only $5 or $10 on it, you should be prepared to invest a lot of time. There are solutions that can end your search today if you are willing to spend at least $100.
We at SpenCertified buy VCRs for a living and we know exactly how and where to obtain VCRs. We've bought VCRs from many avenues and there are plenty of pros and cons to each of these solutions and they will be listed.
Your biggest concern when considering any of the options below should be whether or not the device actually works. Many people selling these things aren't completely familiar with how a VCR works, which leads to them saying that it works, when in reality all it does is power on. Sometimes a device could appear to fully function but has minor defects that you won't notice until you fully use the device. Some defects you may never find out about because you also aren't familiar with how they work. For example, the picture quality could be bad and you may not notice because you haven't watched VHS in so long and you just think, "VHS was this bad? I guess so." Then you go on to transfer all of your tapes to digital or DVD, never knowing that the picture quality could have been better had you gotten a working VCR.
If you end up buying a defective VCR, you will need to accept the fact that "it is the nature of the beast." Or that's what sellers think at least. I've bought a brand new in the box VCR that I later found to be defective, and the seller told me they couldn't refund my money because I already opened it and the value of it was much lower because I opened it. Basically, before even purchasing, you will need to keep in mind that there is a good chance that what you are buying won't work and you should be prepared for that. This is where the saying, "you always get what you pay for" comes into play.
When shopping on eBay, Amazon, Esty and similar sites, keep in mind the shipping aspect. Most sellers will pack your item using questionable packaging and pack it into a box that is too small. This leads to things getting damaged in shipping. Often when things do get damaged, the seller will give you the run around. Some will ask you to drop it off somewhere for inspection, some will say you are lying and others will ask you to return for a refund, then charge you a restocking fee. If you care enough to ask eBay customer service to step in, they will usually get you the full amount refunded, but you will often need to work for it.
This is going to be a hit or miss option. You can find VCRs at garage sales, but it's a little rare. If you go to 20 yard sales, you will probably find yourself 1 VCR. Every yard sale you go to, you should ask if they have a VCR. You would be surprised how many people will go into their house and pull out a VCR that they didn't even think anybody wanted. You might get a range of prices from $2 to $200. From our experience, if the seller says it works, it will work 3 out of 10 times.
Thrift shops are kind of weird. In some states you can find a VCR at every thrift shop and in other states, you can forget about even looking. I'm confident that it comes down to the local population count. If there is a higher local population, you will probably have better luck, and smaller cites and towns will be a bust. When it comes to working VCRs from thrift shops, 2 out of 10 will work. Be sure to test it there as many thrift shops don't accept returns.
Most pawn shops stopped accepting VCRs a long time ago, so this one will be slim pickings. About half of VCRs from pawn shops will fully work.
This is going to be your most reliable local option. In order to sell on Facebook, you are required to have a Facebook account. This means you can view the sellers personal profile before buying if you feel like doing so. Since sellers have their personal account available for your viewing, you can assume that they will operate with a higher level of integrity. Sellers here are slightly more willing to work with you when compared to other outlets. About 6 out of 10 will work from Facebook marketplace.
This solution is very similar to Facebook Marketplace. About 5 out of 10 will work here.
There isn't very much available on Craigslist these days as far as vintage electronics go, although it won't hurt to check. About 4 out of 10 will work from here.
You can find VCRs on here, but their return policy is as shady as they come. If you buy anything on here, remember to unbox and test the item the MINUTE it is delivered. You have 48 hours after the time of delivery to make sure the item meets your expectations. Once the 48 hours is up, the app will assume you are happy with your order and leave positive feedback for the buyer. About 2 out of 10 VCRs function as stated.
eBay is the first place that many people will go check for a VCR. You will find many different options ranging in price and quality. They can range in price from $20 with free shipping up to thousands of dollars. About 5 out of 10 VCRs will function as stated when shopping eBay.
Etsy is pretty much the same thing as mercari. About 5 out of 10 will work as described.
Amazon is basically a glorified eBay. Amazon uses a variety of independent sellers to fulfill orders. All of the same sellers that are on eBay are also on Amazon. With Amazon, you will get eBay quality for a higher price. If you check the reviews that were left for all of their VCRs, you will have a hard time finding a VCR that has more than 3 stars. These reviews are more so a service review than a product review. Most of the reviews will tell you that the VCR didn't even work upon arrival. About 6 out of 10 VCRs will work as stated.
Walmart is the same thing as Amazon. You will find very similar reviews and many of the same sellers. You won't find any VCRs in there stores, but you might order one online for delivery to your house. About 5 out of 10 VCRs will work from here.
SpenCertified is going to be your best option for buying the best quality. The prices will often be higher than other sites, but not always. You could get a fully functional VCR for as little as $69.99 plus shipping and it will come with a 6 month warranty. We also have a customer service team available to you for help selecting the right VCR and setting it up. Our prices are higher, but we can guarantee that you get it done right the first time and not have any back-and-forth with random people just trying to make a quick buck off of you. We SpenCertify / Refurbish all of our products. We clean the heads on them and make sure that they are fully ready for you to just pop in a tape. We do occasionally have damaged shipments, but they are far more rare as all of our products are packed extremely well. If one of our VCRs does get damaged in transit, we always replace it no questions asked, and we do have hundreds of replacements available for you to choose from.
VCRs stopped being manufactured in 2016. You can now only find new old stock options. We've bought about 15 VCRs that were advertised as new and about half were actually new. The other half were people either neglecting to check inside the box for its actual condition or just trying to pull a fast one. Some of them were actually extremely scratched up. If you are lucky enough to find a new VCR, bare in mind that there is a 50% chance that it is in fact not new. You can buy a new VCR from any of the places listed above. The cheapest you will find one will be around $200. You can almost always find a new VCR on our website, the cheapest we will have a new one for is about $400.
VCR production ended in 2016. They stopped producing VCRs because there isn't the same demand as there used to be and streaming was really taking off. VCRs will probably never be manufactured again and this shouldn't concern you much, since even if they did manufacture them again, they would likely be cheap plastic and not as high quality as you are used to.
There are quite a few factors that come into play, and here are just a few of them. Sellers are unfamiliar with the equipment, therefore can't properly test it. Sellers don't have VHS tapes to test the equipment. Sellers think since it worked last time they used it, it still works today. The person they bought it from says it works, so they assume it does too. These machines are fragile and one jolt could damage or misalign a gear. Some sellers think they can get away with saying it works, when they know it doesn't. Which, most of them can get away with it. Just speaking from experience here, after buying thousands of VCRs, no matter where you go, about half of what you find that is supposed to work, won't work. Unless you shop with us of course. Keeping our order defect rate as low as possible is the most important thing to us.
Even with it being 2021, there are still plenty of options when it comes to finding a VCR so you can transfer or watch your old tapes, some options can lead to an intense search, but if you just get it from us, you won't need to waste any time. If you do decide that shopping around at yard sales and on Offerup is worth the risk to you, we encourage you to try it out. You may get lucky and get exactly what you want for an awesome price and it will work. If it doesn't work out, we invite you to come shop with us and consider a trade. Depending on the VCR you find locally, we may be able to work out a trade that earns you a free VCR in exchange for the broken one you were able to find. We hate seeing VCRs go to waste and if you have a broken one that you are looking to throw away, we want it!