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You Can't Put a Price on Nostalgia, But You Can Still Buy VHS Tapes

What a steal.EXPAND
What a steal.
courtesy Eriana Ruiz
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Be kind, rewind.

VHS tapes may be a dead media format, but there are still a few who enjoy the nostalgia of collecting them.

Since December, Richardson store Piranha Vintage has hosted a monthly one-day Dallas VHS swap. It's usually the first Sunday of every month, but the next one is from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday.

The purpose is to connect local video hounds to trade tapes and celebrating the format.

Retail stores no longer carry VHS tapes, instead opting for DVDs, Blu-ray Discs and new 4K discs. Piranha Vintage has made it a lot easier for VHS collectors to find tapes.

“There’s a lot of talking about movies and also trading at tables at the sidewalk to the back of a pickup truck,” says Noel Gross, the store's owner and co-founder of Dallas VHS Swap.

Some local events, like next week's Texas Frightmare Weekend, postpone the swap, but the rules remain the same: Show up with your tapes and swap with others. It’s that simple.

“There’s no cost, and its open for everybody,” Gross says. “The shop just provides the meeting point.”

Space is limited, so it's first come, first served for those who want to set up vendor stands.

“We ask people not to sprawl and not take up a whole bunch of space so there’s room for other people,” Gross says.

The swap started off as a small community of a dozen people but has grown to about 30 participants. While some older millennials grew up with VHS, Gross says he is surprised to see many younger people at the swaps.

Event co-founder Eli Luna says a visit to Japan inspired him to start the Dallas VHS Swap. He says he and his wife went to Deathmatch in Hell, a horror-themed bar, and were amazed by the amount of horror-genre knick-knacks, including VHS films.

“When I got back [to the U.S.], I talked to Noel and said it would be kind of cool if we had a collector meet-up,” Luna says.

Gross and Luna are also trying to spread awareness of Piranha Vintage’s new VHS rental program.

“It’s primary an '80s thing, but the early '90s generation are nostalgic about it being able to go to the video store,” Gross says.

Program memberships allow customers to rent two tapes for a week for $5.

“The rentals are my personal collection," Luna says. "I just don’t have any room at my house anymore."

The swap also allows VHS collectors to see the art on the tapes' boxes. Luna says '80s cover art was unique, and today's art is different.

“They really enjoy the unique cover art that you don’t really see anymore that was more handcrafted back in the day,” Luna says. “Now everything is sort of Photoshop.”

Gross says he wants to continue to spread the awareness and make the swap the VHS hub in Dallas.

“It keeps growing," Gross says. "We hope to outgrow the shop and have a standalone show, kind of a Dallas record show, and have an absolute media VHS show. That’s way down the road. If you’re VHS curious, then come on out.”

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