Woodward’s Department Store deserves a Page of its own, so click here to read all about it.
Before it was bought by Kelly’s, Stereo Mart was the cheapest Record Store that had a really good selection of LPs, including absolutely everything that CKLG-FM was playing at the time (late 1960s).
After Stereo Mart was bought by Kelly’s, A&B Sound took over as the cheapest Record Store that had a really good selection of LPs, including absolutely everything that CKLG-FM was playing at the time (early 1970s).
When I left Burnaby for Yellowknife and my first job after graduation, I subscribed to the Vancouver Province and would mail order LPs based on the sale prices I saw in The Province, for myself and those I worked with.
Long before discounters like Costco or Walmart came to Canada, there was Acme Novelty. And later Consumers Distributing. Both are long gone now.
In the late 1960s, Charles “Chunky” Woodward told my father that he expected to pay manufacturers half the Regular Price of items in his Woodward’s department stores. At least, for items like the small glass jars of Peerless School Paste that my father manufactured for use in elementary schools.
But most retail stores of that era still stuck to the standard retailing model: Manufacturers selling to Wholesalers; and Wholesalers to Retail Stores. Which more than doubled the price of less expensive items.
Acme Novelty was able to offer lower prices on major brands of small appliances, electronics, shavers, watches and similar goods by shipping them in quantity directly from the manufacturer to Acme’s warehouse, then in small quantities to each Acme Novelty location. Manufacturers initially required Acme to act like a Wholesaler, which meant only selling to other Businesses, but Customers always seemed to know someone who had their own small business.
Customers would look through an Acme Novelty catalogue at home or in the store, then fill out a paper form in the store, indicating the items they wished to buy, and bring it to the counter that stretched from one side of the store to the other. The items would be located and brought to the counter where the customer had the option of opening the box and looking at the item before buying it.
If the item was not found, it would be back-ordered if the customer was willing to wait the 10 days to three months it would take to get it by Rail from the warehouse, where it may, in turn, be back-ordered from the manufacturer. The customer was always phoned, either when the item arrived in the local store, or if it was no longer available from the manufacturer.
Even though customers could see the item before they bought it, Acme did accept returns of defective goods, i.e. – they did not expect you to try out a shaver in the store. Restocking charges applied if you simply decided you did not like the item.
Customers did not find the counter ordering approach as odd as they would today, as Liquor in Alberta and B.C. was sold only in government liquor stores which were run in the same manner.
Consumers Distributing used the same approach as Acme Novelty, effectively replacing them.