#531: The More Things Change…

GETTING MORE TALE #531: The More Things Change…

The first record store I worked in no longer exists.  It closed (moved actually) in 1996, but even the physical location it was in has gone.  It was tucked away in a mall, but that unit was torn up and enlarged and made into a discount store.

That entire mall has changed completely in the last 20 years.  I spent a lot of years in that mall as a kid, teen and young adult.  Before the record store opened in ’91, I would mostly shop at the Zellers store.  Zellers wasn’t bad.  They carried 7″ singles, and that is the very store about which Record Store Tales Part 4:  A Word About B-Sides was written.  The fact that they even had singles made my early music collection much more interesting.  Once I even spied a very rare Def Leppard promotional cassette called Soundtrack to the Video Historia.  It was exactly that — a cassette version of all the songs on Leppard’s Historia home video.  I assumed it would have the rare video mix of “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, and I wanted it.  But they wouldn’t sell it to me, even though it appeared in their flyer that week.  Whoops.

During my highschool years, the mall even had an A&A Records & Tapes.  A&A closed up shop nationwide in 1990-91 (much sooner in our mall).  Now Zellers is gone too (turned into a Walmart) and the grocery store Zehrs has grown supersized.  My first ever job was at the Zehrs store.  Now I can’t find my way around it; it’s too huge.  Trying to find a box of crackers takes me 15 minutes.  I have so much history with that mall.  My dad worked there before I did.  Amazingly, the bank at which he used to work is still open, though completely changed and enlarged.  His old office is now just part of the general reception area.  The old vault, which my dad used to let me into when we visited, is also long gone.

When we were really young, my mom, sister and I went to visit my dad at the bank regularly.  We liked playing with the calculator and his phone.  My sister enjoyed sitting in his big chair.  Within reach of her tiny hands was the silent alarm, hidden under his desk.  She found it, and decided to try it out and see what it did.  Nothing!  Nothing at all.  We left and headed home, while my dad continued work.  A few minutes after we departed, in rolled a squad of cops responding to the silent alarm!  My dad had no idea, but he figured it out in short order.

Needless to say, I grew up with that mall as a second home.  When I was in grade school, it was basically right next door.  I knew every inch of it, at least the way it used to be.  The Baskin Robbins – long gone.  Little Short Stop where I bought all my comics, candy and Star Wars cards — gone.  The sole restaurant — gone.  Black’s Photography – gone.  Radio Shack – also gone.  Entire wings of the mall don’t exist anymore, swallowed up by other stores.  Nothing decent moved in to replace them.  Walmart took over the skeleton of Zellers and the grocery store expanded.  Everything else was taken up by crap discount stores of questionable value.  Nobody shops there anymore.  The mall is dead.  It used to be infested with mall rats.  Now you couldn’t find a teenager within 100 meters of that place.

The second record store I worked in was also in Kitchener, but not in a mall.  It was in a strip plaza.  That strip plaza has also completely changed over the last 20 years.  When we first moved in there, they had a coffee shop and a bank.  The coffee shop was gone within the first year and the bank a few years later.  There were two gigantic gift and craft shops – both gone.  There was a dollar store where we could pop in and buy a bag of chips – gone.  “Cheese chips” was our thing at that location.  It was a new flavour to us, cheddar cheese.  We bought a lot of cheese chips from that store.

That plaza doesn’t even look the same anymore.  Today, most of the stores have been bulldozed, including my old record store.  However they moved down a little ways; not too far for the customers.  These stores were torn down to make way for a new grocery store.  Quite a shock, to see my old store reduced to rubble.  There was nothing but concrete shambles where I spent every weekday for many years not so long ago!  A strange sight to behold.  So much happened on that little patch of rubble!  Half of Record Store Tales came from that destruction zone.

I think it would be fascinating to take a look at these places in another 20 years.  Will they even exist?  Will anyone care?  Or am I just another old fogie reminiscing about the “good old days”?  You only live once and I’m very happy to have lived where I have.


  1. Great post. It’s the same all over the U.S. as well. A lot of malls that were so popular in the 70s, 80s & 90s are now empty, converted to other uses, or have been torn down, a reflection of changing shopping behavior and economics.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Nice post, Mike. Brings back memories. Makes me feel really old when you reminisce about the old days and call yourself an old fogey. I’m happy that your memories are good ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A lot of the time when I read your blog I’m shocked by some of the small differences in our cultures, but reading this had me thinking of all the places I’ve seen torn down. And even one place that used to be a corn field.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s vaguely disturbing when part of our personal history are bulldozed or changed beyond recognition, isn’t it? Whenever I have cause (not often) to drive past where my old brick Primary School once stood, I scowl at the Tyre Mart now occupying the site.
    Nice story Mike.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think what you said is the key Bruce. Some of my old compatriots don’t understand why I wrote all this stuff down. It’s personal history. I don’t want to forget it, who else is going to remember it if not me?

      Also I like the way you spell tire.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post Mike. I feel you. All the record store I shopped at in the 80’s and 90’s are long gone and it is kind of sad. Some of the albums I have still have the store stickers on them so I won’t forget them.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. MacAlpine….i think i played it once or twice as the sound was so sterile. Kinda felt hosed on that one as Sarzo/Aldridge were on it as well….Tbone bought it as well so we were double hosed! haha


  6. I can relate to this to some degree. The city centre here is filled with empty units… shops that have been empty after having 5 or 6 different occupants since the one I remembered fondly. In fact, depending on who you speak to, there’s memories of different stores in the same location over the years. It’s been a long time since there was a music store in the shopping centres, but I remember popping in and buying the odd ‘Nice Price’ CD.

    Also, place I grew up was completely bulldozed and rebuilt… we drove through a couple of years ago as I reminisced to my wife about where I grew up, etc. Street name still existed, but the area was renamed and the street lined with new homes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. NICE PRICE! I miss those stickers. Of course today a “nice price” is way less than it was in those days!

      That’s sad that the old house you grew up in has been bulldozed. My parents still live in the same house and the neighborhood is still more or less the same. However the larger neighborhood has completely changed, their is now a hugely busy plaza in what used to be a vacant field that we used as a short cut to get to the mall. The trail that I used to walk on is a KFC now.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. That would possibly be worse, eh? Like one of those dreams when you’re in a familiar surrounding, but it’s not really. Open the door and the street is not your street, but in the dream it is and it makes sense until you’re awake. Y’know what I mean?

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Holy crap dude. I used to get those all the time. Terrifying. My house should be there…but that’s not my house. Wait…this isn’t my street! I don’t know where I am! In one dream I was so disoriented I actually ended up on Sesame Street.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. The changes you mention are profound, it’s interesting to see things grow and become in a city. For the record shops, it’s just an acknowledgement that the sales of physical media have really dwindled. There are still places to go, but the focus is shifting. It happens.

    I imagine I’d find those changes even more pronounced, as I haven’t lived in your town since 1999!

    Liked by 1 person

Rock a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s