Why are people still buying blank cassettes?

To be an effective online reseller, one must stay on top of trends of items that sell successfully. Knowing what to spot in a clearance section or thrift store is pivotal. In my over a decade of reselling, trends have shifted but what I have noticed recently is the success of nostalgia electronics. So any time I am out thrifting, I almost always first look toward the electronics section.

I stopped by a suburban thrift store this week and noticed a number of older Sony cassette tapes, new and sealed. I almost always stop and search the eBay sold history on any blank cassette as they almost always will sell at a profit, especially if they are being sold at a cheap price at the thrift store (below a dollar a cassette a near guarantee for profitability).

When looking through a miscellaneous section away from the paltry electronics section, I uncovered some sealed cassettes with Sony branding, they looked old and from the 80’s. They were branded as Metal Type IV tapes and seemed higher quality. Apparently, metal tapes were made more for studio and live recording and have always trended expensive but I never expected they’d move so quickly.

A 1991 advertisement for the cassettes in question.

After doing a few searches for sold history on eBay, I realized that these cassettes will definitely at least sell. The thrift store had a wide variety of retro new in box packaged Sony media so I just grabbed it all (I’ll have to report back on the rest). I picked the media up at $1.99 per piece (also took advantage of the lucky coincidence of Tuesday student discount day). I decided to list the cassettes the next morning because I have experience selling them and figured they would be the first to move. I was surprised to see offers pouring in and all of the cassettes were sold at a rate of $9-$16 per cassette by the afternoon (I had 12 total). See below for the loot and subsequent sales.

Don’t get me wrong. Every cassette selling experience won’t be like this. I’ve listed regular TDK type cassettes that were probably manufactured in the early 2000’s and they have sat for quite some time. The best method for these is to throw them in as big of a lot as possible and just wait. I would say the older the cassette the better the success rate you will have, but people always love the big name brands like Sony.

Back to the original question of why, why are people buying cassettes in 2019? This publication will be exploring themes around general nostalgia with electronics but a lot of it stems from the fact that simply the supply is finite. National Audio Company in Missouri is the only manufacturer of cassettes currently in existence, and cassette sales rose by 23% last year. Some are attributing it to the fact that now bands and even major record labels are releasing albums to cassette. It is much cheaper way for artists to sell physical versions of their music in the ways that are more popular. CD sales have rapidly decreased in the last decade. Vinyl sales have rapidly increased in the past decade, but manufacturing vinyl is expensive. Cassettes are cheap, which is probably why National Audio Company produced 10 million last year. If a band or recording artist wants to release merchandise, a cassette is much cheaper and attractive option for merchandising their music.

Ariana Grande holds a “mix tape” cassette in the “Thank U Next” video

It is undeniable that nostalgia is a commodity. Resellers should always be sensing there may be value in any older electronic, but before getting stuck with a bunch of junky old electronics in storage waiting to be sold, it is always important to do your research. Cassettes can certainly be a winner new and sealed, research the best brands and if it is a “metal type IV” cassette, don’t hesitate, just buy and list.

Buy a blank 60 minutes Sony Cassette tape today
Buy a 5 pack of TDK cassettes today


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