FROM VHS TO LASER DISCS TO VCDS

The company made hay while the sun was shining, but the laser discs didn’t last long. In the early 2000s, VCDs began to take over the world.

“We got knocked out,” Lim recalled. “The first transition from VHS tapes to laser discs went well because not everyone could afford them. But in the second transition from laserdiscs to VCDs, we suffered heavy losses.

Since VCDs cost much less to produce, the same program that costs S$80 on laser discs started to cost S$10. Piracy became rampant and Poh Kim Video faced one lawsuit after another. At one point, prices fell to an all-time low of S$1.

“It was a very difficult time for Poh Kim,” he said, adding that VCDs forced several retailers out of the market. “A lot of people gave up, but I persisted because of the relationships and trust we had built with our staff.”

His tenacity paid off when DVDs were born. After overcoming the cold and bitter era of VCDs, Poh Kim was ready to serve an audience that had begun to value quality over price. They then became the first DVD retailer to make Korean drama TV series accessible to Singaporeans.

You may remember Dae Jang Geum, Stairway To Heaven and Full House. In the early 2000s, K-dramas gave Hong Kong TVB a hard time and were to housewives what Pokemon was to children. Poh Kim acquired the distribution rights for these titles and marked the first Korean Wave launch in Singapore.

WHO IS BUYING THESE DVDS?

Now that a DVD can cost as much as a monthly subscription to Netflix, who buys any more? The answer is, surprisingly, both young and old.

“For young people, the difference between watching a movie online and on a DVD is its quality,” Lim explained. “Those who value audiovisual quality continue to buy from us.”