Halloween tradition: Calgary costume shop celebrates 70 years in business

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WATCH: The last couple of days before Halloween are always a witchy whirl of activity at costume shops. And as Gil Tucker shows us, at one Calgary spot people are getting into the spirit of the season with some very seasoned spookers. – Oct 28, 2019

Walk into Don’s Hobby Shop in Calgary and you’re stepping into a piece of the city’s history.

“I’ve been here five or six times,” customer Dave Hodgson said. “And it’s always been like a blast from the past.”

Staff and customers at the costume and makeup shop are now celebrating as the store marks a major milestone: 70 years in business.

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Don Spicer opened the store in downtown Calgary in 1949, specializing in hobby-related items such as train sets and model kits.

The store moved to its current location just north of downtown in 2004, after an ownership change.

Several of the long-term employees stayed on after the move, among them Charlie Ross, who started working at the store in 1998.

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“Don and I worked together for years,” Ross said. “He was a really nice man and his family was really nice too.”

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The store’s focus shifted over the years, switching from stocking hobby-related items to selling costumes and accessories.

“It’s like a whole different world,” Ross said. “And I think that’s why the business is so successful — because it evolved.”

Hodgson was shopping for a Santa outfit for his dog Keela, intending to dress her up for Halloween.

“She doesn’t seem to mind it,” Hodgson said. “Everyone’s getting into the festivities.”

Spicer retired years ago, but still enjoyed occasionally visiting the shop that bears his name.

“He actually just died this year,” Ross said. “It was a really nice funeral. He was 90 when he died.”

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Spicer’s spirit lives on, especially around Halloween.

“Being crazy and dressing up!” customer Sue Binsted said. “It’s fun.”

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While celebrating the store’s 70th anniversary, staff and customers are hoping Don’s Hobby Shop will be around for many more decades to come.

“It’s changed a lot over the years, but hopefully the family spirit and the customer service spirit have remained the same,” Ross said. “I think that’s why people still like to come into the store.”

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