#526: Location, Location, Location

GETTING MORE TALE #526: Location, Location, Location

I worked at many Record Store locations over the years, often temporarily for training and managing.  Some of them I spent a few days at, others were several weeks or months in total.  Each one had its own flavour and clientele.  While experiences and mileage may vary, here are some memories of some favourite locations (all in Ontario, Canada).


cambridge1. Cambridge

The store in Cambridge was our first to carry movies, initially in VHS format.  It was a lot of fun working there from time to time, buying and selling used movies.  There was always something I wanted for my collection, and it broke up the monotony of seeing nothing but CDs every day.

Cambridge was also interesting because we used to get a number of people coming in just to ask where the strip club was.  “It used to be around here!”  I don’t know why the dudes looking for the strip club kept stopping in the Record Store (as opposed to the Tim Hortons or a gas station or anywhere else), but they did indeed used to ask.

Some of the customers in Cambridge were…well, let’s just say they were not all our best and brightest.  T-Rev managed that store, and I took over temporarily when he was on road trips elsewhere setting up new stores.  The customers there wore me down more than anywhere else.  Especially when they came in to sell, which was frequently.  Cambridge bought a lot of stock.  If the customer wasn’t happy with my offer, they’d ask when the “regular guy” would be back.  Maddening since I was more generous than a lot of other folks.

There was one customer in Cambridge who hated selling to me, he always asked where “the regular guy” was.  He asked my name and I told him it was Sanchez.  When T-Rev came back, we had a laugh over the employee named “Sanchez” who was apparently low-balling this customer for his dance CDs.


hamilton2. Hamilton

The store I worked at in Hamilton was pretty quiet most of the time.  There was a lunch time rush when kids from the nearby highschool would come in to listen to and occasionally buy CDs.  Given Steeltown’s reputation, I was pleasantly surprised to find the kids I dealt with to be polite and friendly, more than I was used to seeing.  The adults weren’t always so friendly, but no more or less than any of the other stores I worked in.  Hamilton was a shitty place to drive (confusing one-way streets), but I didn’t mind working there at all.


kitchener3. Kitchener

I worked in three different stores in the Kitchener area.  One of the other guys there used to refer to Kitchener as a “ham & egger” town, a phrase I never heard before.  A lot of blue collar customers.  It was still a step up from Cambridge, depending on which Kitchener location I was working in.

I’ve said many times that my favourite store was the original one, in a small mall in Kitchener.  It was our only mall store ever.  It was a special place to work.  It was tiny and compact.  It could get really busy on the weekends.  There were a lot of regular customers, more than I remember elsewhere, probably due to the fact we were in a mall.  There was a familiarity – I knew them, and they knew me.  When I was eventually given a larger store elsewhere to manager, I missed the faces I would see on a regular basis at the mall.

I also missed the “unique” individuals you’d meet at the mall store.  Malls have a whole ecosystem of life forms, unlike others in the outside world.  There was Johnny Walker, so named because every day he would walk the circuit around the mall, talking to himself, all day.  One day, something peculiar happened.  He came in, stopped talking to himself, and bought a tape.  He paid for his cassette and then resumed walking and talking to himself again.  I only saw that happen once.  There was Butts, the guy who would dig through ashtrays looking for cigarette butts.  Let’s not forget Trevor the Security Guard, and the drunks at the restaurant next door.  It was a blast!  I didn’t care for the mallrats, but they were a minor annoyance.


oakville4. Oakville

I did not like working on Oakville, as was discussed in Record Store Tales Part 16: Travelling Man.  Many of those customers were snooty; just too good for you.  They felt entitled to park in the fire lane, because they were more important than you.  Read the Oakville tale for the misery that was working there.



5. Mississauga

More than any other location, I may have resented Mississauga the most.  It was a shit location.  There was nothing of any value around.  There was a health products store, but nowhere to buy a snack or a lunch.  There was no foot traffic.  Across the street was an empty field.  It was a dead store from the day it opened.  I invested myself deeply in my work.  There are many things in life that can crush your soul.  One of them is working hard at something (training employees, helping set up a store) and seeing it come up to nothing.  That was Mississauga.  In the used CD business, you depend on customers bringing in good stuff for you to re-sell.  Mississauga provided very little good stuff.


There were more, all with tales of their own.   These however were five of the most memorable, each for its own reasons.  While a change of scenery is nice once in a while, there is nothing better than working in a location you love.




    1. That’s right! Mississauga is stolen from the Mississauga indians. Kitchener is stolen from Lord Kitchener, known for his colonial exploits in the 1800’s. Oakville is wishful thinking to make people want to go there.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Years ago my parents sold their car. They told me they sold it to a pair of strippers. My ears perked up.
          Turns out they were old ladies that own a furniture finishing company called KW Strippers.

          P.S. I would love to here the recordings of phone calls to that company.

          “Ok. So we’re having a stag party….

          Liked by 1 person

  1. My only experience with the town of Hamilton was from the movie Youngblood, was that film accurate? Using my professional opinion, I would say that Johnny Walker had autism but he seems harmless enough. Great tales all though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Youngbloods was filmed in Toronto. The Hamilton Mustangs was just a team name made up for the film.
      A number of the hockey players in the film went onto to the NHL including Steve Thomas (who was born in England) and the late Peter Zezel.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. He was a member of my beloved Leafs as well.
          He died in 2009.
          I remember he got real heavy after hockey but I think it was a disorder that eventually killed him.
          Always loved watching him. Great at faceoffs and great setup man.
          He was always first class too.
          I miss him.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. My wife used to work at Conestoga Mall. She would tell me all about the mallrats. The cigartte butt guy. The walkers. One guy that looked homeless but rumour was he was rich. It is a culture unique to malls.
    Any comments about the Waterloo store?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I only worked in Waterloo for a total of two or three shifts, so I don’t have much to say about that. There was one day when an asshole guy decided to get in a phone argument with his girlfriend right at the front counter, that was a memorable 10-15 minutes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I HATE that. I rarely answer the phone in public around others. My conversarions are private and don’t want orhers to hear or to be disturbed.
        If some asshole is loudly talking on the phone near me I go to youtube and crank a song right back at them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I say put a location in your home. Lebrains Record Shoppe has a nice ring to it ( and the extra pe on the end to class it up).
    I can be your first customer, and Tbone and Deke can attempt the sticker switch to keep you alert.


    Liked by 2 people

  4. Man, I used to manage two retail locations simultaneously, at Conestoga and Fairview. They were kiosks in the middle of the hall. You wanna talk stories about crazy mall people, man I’ve got stories about crazy mall people. As we were in the middle of the aisle we had nowhere to hide.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Who knew that watch batteries were a way to a woman’s heart? Hahaha!

          That sucks because we had to account for every damn scrap of saleable items in that kiosk, but matters of the heart weigh larger for some people than parity in inventory. :)

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh that was the worst.

        Especially when the mall didn’t open til 9, but you were in the kiosk opening things up and people would come by as early as 8:30 and say “Are you open?” And if you said no, they said “well you’re in there, aren’t you?” Fuuuuuuu…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I had a boss that said “If the customer can see you, we’re open.”

          I would.come in weekends, nights , real early etc. and real early. They always tried to get in. I would ignore them anyway, and some would complain.

          My boss was a piece of shit bully anyway so I rarely listened to him but I digress.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Thing was, at 8:30, nothing was unlocked. The computer wasn’t booted up. Nothing was ready! Telling them to come back closer to 9 never went over well either, but until I did a bunch of work, I couldn’t help them anyway.

          Crappy bosses are crappy.

          Liked by 2 people

        3. I can respect a boss opening early if he is there working. Sucks for you, but at least he is there.
          My boss was still in bed. I came in early to get ready for customers, get paperwork caught up etc. and get in shit if I didn’t open the door when some asshole sees me inside at 6am(an hour before we open).
          Fuck that noise.
          We had drop envelopes. Put your keys there and I’ll call you when we open.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Yeah I loved that too. Sure glad they did that. It was also nice that all the managers would spend an hour after work twice a week doing stock transfers, unpaid. Mileage unpaid for that too.

          Liked by 1 person

        5. Each manager twice a week had to drive to a central location and drop off and pick up stock. Much of this time was spent waiting for one person stuck in traffic. This was “part of our salary”. Not to mention, if my trunk and back seat of my car are full of stock overnight, that sucks if I wanted to buy groceries….

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I think Mike is right. It was open in 2008, back when I still worked at the hospital up there…but the landscape has changed. I do remember noticing it closed. I think a Stag Shop is there now


        1. An empty Molson Park was good times. By the time we moved away in 2006, that area was so difficult to drive through. Complete gridlock. I don’t miss that! At least we know the sideroutes to get from south barrie to north without hitting the major roads.


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