This past weekend, on a road trip to Canada to see Sarah Harmer perform, I finally had the opportunity to check out Dr. Disc in Hamilton, Ontario. I’d never visited the shop before, but Mark, the owner, was so helpful last year when my wife and I were looking for a Canadian record shop that a) carried the Polaris Prize 10″ Sarah Harmer cover sessions record, and b) was willing to send us that along with a Polaris Prize nominee record (the required purchase for receiving the free SH 10″). We’d tried a few stores who seemed clueless about the release while we were in Canada on vacation, but once we were home, we touched base with Mark who was more than happy to send us the records, and even sent them from the US to save us a little on shipping. He also threw in a Dr. Disc slipmat, which I thought was pretty cool.
My wife had kept in touch with Mark online after that, and so when we knew we were going to be traveling through Hamilton, she touched base and let him know we’d be by the shop. He was warm and welcoming, and hooked us up with some excellent swag — tote bags and t-shirts. It was totally unexpected and so appreciated, and it stood in such stark contrast to the kind of interactions I’ve had with shops I frequent in the US. I spend a lot of time and a lot of dough at one of my favorite shops, and yet they don’t even know my name. People don’t believe me when I tell them that Canadian folks are just a lot nicer and friendlier, but this is a prime example right here.
The shop is a good size, with two floors of vinyl and CD bins, plus a room full of turntables and DJ gear. Everything was so clean and organized, which made it easy to find some gems even though we were a little short on time. And the prices were excellent, for both new and used vinyl. I grabbed Alvvays’ 2013 self-released album, which has been on my wantlist for ages. I’m a sucker for anything RCMP-related (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), so when my wife discovered a 1970s RCMP band record in the bins, I had to snag that one as well. And I was able to find two Rankin/Bass Christmas albums that I’ve been wanting for years — “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas,” and “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland.” I can’t even explain how much I geeked out over finding those.
I wish we’d had more time to spend in the shop, because I’m sure I would have come home with a huge stack of records. But I was more than happy with my finds, and it was great to meet one of the nicest record shop owners around. Mark, thanks for the swag and the kindness, and for having a really excellent store. Congratulations on 25 years!