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Chains Leap Into Used Trading

7 Sep, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner

Specialty retailers have made the leap into trading used DVDs with consumers in a big way, although many are reluctant to discuss the changes that are apparent at the store level.

Blockbuster Video executives have trumpeted the chain's foray into the used-disc trade to investors for the past two quarters. Executives and financial documents have repeatedly said the chain will have trade-for-store-credit in 2,000 U.S. and 700 U.K. locations by the end of the year. Now, Big Blue is fulfilling the promise, with more stores each day hanging banners offering a minimum of $5 in-store credit for used DVDs and a maximum of $35 for used video games.

“We have trading in more than 1,500 U.S. stores so far, so we are well on our way to achieving our goal of having movie trading in about 2,000 stores,” said Blockbuster spokeswoman Karen Raskopf.

Blockbuster has also been busy expanding its Movie Trading Company store concept, with stores opening last month and this month in the Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Denver, Colorado Springs and Atlanta markets.

In the Northeast, PrePlayed fills that niche with eight stores in Wisconsin cities, Philadelphia and Baltimore. That chain plans to open stores this year in Boston and markets in Ohio, Texas and Florida, and offers franchises, COO Ed Geiske said.

Meanwhile, Trans World Entertainment, nearly 900 stores strong, has quietly remerchandised the Wherehouse stores it operates into a full trading model. Although several calls to Trans World went unreturned, it's evident that Wherehouse stores sold off their rental product and stopped offering video rentals two months ago.

More recently, the chain has remerchandised the music and video sections to eliminate the distinctions between used and new product. Wherehouse stores carry only the week's hottest new releases in displays near the front door, while the bulk of the DVD section is categorized by genre and title, with new and used product shelved together.

Wherehouse stores offer cash or store credit for used product, although they have discontinued a program that offered any new DVD up to $25 value in exchange for three used discs. The chain also buys discs via its Web site, wherehouse.com.

Although most of Trans World's nationwide mall-based FYE (For Your Entertainment) stores offer store credit for used discs, one store manager said corporate has started to offer cash for trades at some FYE and Wherehouse locations.

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