#399: Record Shopping in the Sticks


#399: Record Shopping in the Sticks

Summers in Kincardine, Ontario in the late 1980s and early 90s were beautiful, but to a teenage me they felt isolated.  No phone at the cottage, no cable TV, and nothing that cityfolk would call a record store.  We did have a few options.  There were places that you could buy music, including one crummy music store that popped up for a brief while.  Summertime is made for music, and one of my favourite childhood experiences was listening to brand new tunes in the summer.

We’d be at the cottage for two weeks straight every August, and I would usually pack my entire my tape collection to come with me (oh how my dad loved that).   Having all my favourite songs with me meant I’d always have music for whatever mood I was in.  Still, nothing could beat the rush of new music!  New didn’t have to mean “new” per se; I was collecting the back catalogues of many metal masters too.  There was always something to buy that would be brand new to me.

In the very early days, you could buy tapes at the local Stedmans store downtown.  Stedmans sold everything from clothes to musical instruments to toys.  Like many of these places, they are now closed.  It was one store to buy new cassettes, and that is where I picked up Priest…Live! back in July of 1987.  The other place to buy tapes at that time was an electronics store called Don’s Hi Fi.  White Lion’s Big Game and W.A.S.P.’s Headless Children came from Don’s Hi Fi during the summer of 1989.  I couldn’t wait until I got home and played them.  We’d rip open the plastic and check out the pictures in the car, waiting to get back and hit play.  The following summer, I bought Jon Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory at the same store.  We would also be able to find tapes in the cheapie bin at places like drug stores, and I picked up The Earthquake Album from such a bin.

Around 1988, an actual music store opened up in Kincardine.  It was there that I purchased Painkiller by Judas Priest, and Exposed by Vince Neil.  It was a small store and they didn’t have many catalogue items, but you could pick up new releases there and some key older releases such as greatest hits.

Beyond these few stores, you had to get out of town.  Kincardine is a small place, but Port Elgin to the north offered a few more options.  There was a Radio Shack there with a different selection of tapes.  They also had 7” singles, of which we bought a couple on clearance.

L-R Peter, Bob, Mike. Note Peter wearing deck shoes on a deck.  He always was the best dresser.

L-R Peter, Bob, Mike. Note Peter wearing deck shoes on a deck. He always was the best dresser. Also note my official Starfleet sideburns.  Summer 1992

In the summer of ’92 we made several day trips to Port Elgin.  My sister and I were headed to a “cards & comics” store that we discovered.  One afternoon my sister phoned them up to ask if they had any promotional Star Wars cards?  They did – road trip!  The first of many happy and successful trips to Port Elgin looking for goodies.  (Yes, promo cards are collectible just like some promo CDs.)

On the same trip, we found this grungy record store on the corner of the main drag.  Really scummy, really dirty.  They bought and sold used tapes and records.  My sister brought in a whole bunch of her cassettes for store credit, and walked out with Rod Stewart’s Out of Order and one or two others.  My first purchase there was Black Sabbath’s Live at Last.  I bought my original copy of Helix’s Wild in the Streets on cassette at that store.  The tape glowed in the dark.  I’ve never seen another glow-in-the-dark tape before or since!  I also picked up Kiss’ Creatures of the Night (original cover) on vinyl, as well as Twister Sister’s Come Out and Play.  You might remember that Come Out and Play had that awesome cover with the opening manhole?  That was the reason I bought it.

Those stores in Port Elgin are both gone.  Don’s Hi Fi still exists in Kincardine, but they don’t sell music anymore.  I did buy a pair of earbuds there about five years ago, but things have changed so much.  There’s no such thing as “isolation” anymore, not like it felt back then.  Today I can sit on the front porch of the cottage, streaming live radio from home straight to the laptop.  I used to pack my entire tape collection for the cottage, but now anything I want to listen to, I can search for on Youtube.  It is simply amazing how much has changed in the last two decades, and I am sure that in another 20 years it will be just as startlingly different.

As long as I can still listen to my music there, I’ll be happy!



  1. Sticks? STICKS? Haha man I still live in the sticks!

    Ah Stedmans. We had to drive 20 minutes to the bigger town of 2500 to get to the Stedmans. That’s where I bought my BNL Yellow Tape (and for those keeping score I now own 4 copies of that one).

    I remember that place on the corner in PE. I took a bunch of my old 80s pop tapes in there and traded them for my first cassette copy of Exile On Main Street. A formative moment. I also remember they had Metallica’s Garage Days (was it Revisited?) on cassette and they wanted about $25 for it. I remember laughing and wondering who would pay that for a tape.

    Anyway, in my town now, that ‘sticks’ feeling still prevails. We still have a couple of options (one manky record shop, an express crap HMV, and Walmart), but I’m better off online of getting down to the big shitty. Also, one small correction: I believe you said OS when you meant PE, in the paragraph below the Twisted Sister pics. Anyway.

    You city kids. Hahahahaaa!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Garage Days Re-revisited! I think I saw one at Encore back in the day for a similar price. I’m pretty sure I paid $50 or close to it for my original CD copy.

      I don’t mind the sticks feeling anymore now that I can bring an entire world of music with me!


        1. Yup! It’s a compulsion. Yes, I’m weird. I have my original from when it was a new release, and I’ve found 3 more at VV in the past couple of years. I rescue them, on behalf of the AAAA. I don’t like to think of them out in the wild, alone, cold, hungry…


      1. I never played with GI Joe. Transformers were more my thing but if I remember correctly, Stedmans only ever carried the Gobot knockoffs.


        1. Our Stedmans had KO Transformers. I clearly remember a KO Devastator there. I considered buying it in order to swap out some pieces with my original that was getting worn out. I kinda wish I had.


  2. Cool stuff Mike..someday I will have to tell u all about the record shops in Tbay …..great story and I like the reference point of what stores U bought music from…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like these tales of when & where music was procured – and I don’t know if Brockville would count as “the sticks” but I finally found one of the 1001 albums I need on 8-track there the other day. So excited – for that and for Ontario summer cottaging!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love these cottage stories! Going to the cottage rocks. Alas, it’ll be 10 years since K’s Nona sold her camp. We spent every free weekend there in the summer. I miss that life so much. You are fortunate!
    At any rate, we have a screened-in gazebo in our back yard built by our own hands (with help from K’s dad) so we can sit outside and relax. No lake, but we have a hot tub (not running at the moment, and it came with the house). I say to K I want to retire by the lake. Who knows where life will take you?
    Great hair you got there! (tee hee!) ;)

    Liked by 1 person

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