You bought Don’s Hobby Shop in 2003?
And you bought it off the original owner, Don Spicer?
Why buy the store? Was it the business or the offerings?
It was a bit of both. I was always interested in small business and I found the story a very appealing one to take on.
How old is the store?
It’s been around since 1949, so we’re in our 64th year.
That’s rare for a store in Calgary.
Is there something that sets Don’s apart? Why are you so popular?
We’re always trying different things. That’s the thing about Don’s, every time you come in there’s so many different things in here. Every time you come in you’re likely to see something new.
So it’s not a question of specializing, it’s almost the opposite.
This is our comedy issue, do you sell gags? Do you have comedians that shop at your store?
Oh yeah, we do. We have a couple of regular, I suppose they’re motivational speakers who buy comedy type props from us.
Like what? What would be a comedy prop?
Oh, anything from a rubber chicken to giant sunglasses. You kind of caught me off guard, let’s see, what else do they buy.... Oh, you know, clown noses.
So you guys actually sell rubber chickens?
It’s amazing that people produce these things still.
I know. Well, all that stuff is still produced that you remember from the ’70s, like the whoopie cushions and the snap gum.
Do you have any items that are particularly popular?
That’s so hard to say, it’s just so all over the place. We do so many costumes and accessories and theatrical makeup, juggling supplies, magic supplies... it’s just kind of hard to pinpoint one really popular thing. It’s just a lot of everything.
In terms of magic supplies, do you sell mostly to pros or people who are just starting?
We do have some professional quality, but as far as magic goes the inventory is mostly beginner stuff.
I imagine you make most of your money at Halloween?
That’s our busiest time of year, yeah.
It must be a gong show in there.
Is it steady the rest of the year, are people buying costumes?
Yeah. We have to work at it, but yeah. We do stay busy year-round.
What is it that brings people in for costumes outside of Halloween?
Oh, people have theme parties, theme weddings, um, the comic expo is big... houseboating — people seem to dress up for houseboating.
Really? That’s a weird one. Do you have bathing suit costumes?
No, but people will dress up as pirates and sailors and captains. Some people will get Hawaiian stuff.
You also mentioned theme weddings?
Yup, people will do theme weddings. We’ve had a few this season.
There was a Renaissance-themed wedding. There was a ’70s-themed wedding. That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Stampede is busy. There’s always something going on throughout the year that manages to keep us busy.
That’s funny, people always joke that people are dressing up cowboy for Stampede, but they’re literally buying cowboy costumes?
Yup. Hats, sheriff badges, accessory stuff for their cowboy costumes.
Do you have any plans to expand further?
We just opened the second store a year ago, so at this moment right now, no.
I’ve never been to the store on Crowchild Trail, is it the same size as the Centre Street store?
It’s a little bit smaller, but it’s a different layout, so we’ve managed to get the same amount of inventory in there. It’s opposite to Dalhousie Station on the other side of Crowchild.