by Jennifer Lavallee
Morinville News Correspondent
When people talk about “the good old days,” I’m pretty sure they are referring to a time when TVs lived inside giant wooden boxes and, if you wanted to change the channel, well darn it, you had to actually get up off the couch and turn a dial. The soundtrack of “the good old days” is undoubtedly some warm, buttery music playing off a vinyl record, filling a room covered with wood paneling and orange shag carpet.
But then again, maybe not.
Maybe your version of “the good old days,” is watching Back to the Future on Betamax, while you played with your hot wheels, donning your very best AC/DC t-shirt.
It’s inside these memories, images burnt on your brain of a simpler time that each one of us finds the meaning of, “the good old days.”
For about four decades, Morinville resident, Ron Cust, has been collecting and searching out pieces of days gone past, reminders of important times or people in his life. In fact, his impressive collection had grown so big; it came to a point where he needed to make some important decisions on what to do with it all.
After some soul searching and talking with his good friend, Paul Smith, what he came up with is now one of Morinville’s newest stores—Ron’s Collectibles.
“[The shop] is about music and culture, rock n’ roll, and cars,” explained Cust in an interview. His shop is in what will soon be called ‘Smith’s Plaza’ (the building where Smith’s Music is also housed and is undergoing renovations).
Cust can be found at the store most days but said he would also open up shop for those wanting to make an appointment as well. Ron’s Collectibles boasts a vast collection of vinyl LPs and turntables, old and new. Also stocking its shelves are old wooden radios and gramophones, Betamax machines, and classic TVs. There are die cast toys (think Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels), some of which are still in their original, mint condition boxes. Anything that can be described as “iconic memorabilia” from the ‘50s, ‘60s, or ‘70s can potentially be found on Cust’s shelves.
“The neat thing about Ron’s Collectibles is that I have price points for every customer. A kid can come in with a loonie and leave with a new toy car, all the way up to prices a serious collector would expect.”
Cust says items like vinyl records—he has about 650 of them currently available for sale—are being sold at 15 to 20 per cent under market value. “It’s a lot of fun when people come in they hear that great vinyl sound in the background as they browse our collection. It’s such an excellent, upbeat atmosphere.”
“Notably, I have what I call the “Gerry Gaetz Collection,” which are a significant amount of records in near mint condition. Some of these records are making their way onto people’s wish lists; it’s the vinyl people remember buying as teenagers.”
Cust said those looking to buy records, of course, require another important piece of the puzzle—a turntable. “We have modern USB turntables that are wireless…and also old-school ones, like some old Sony and Akai ones that are being refurbished.”
Cust said his turntables would cost you anywhere from $100 to $350.
Not to be forgotten is a large collection of vintage hot wheels (from the 1960s-1970s) and original Matchbox cars from the 1950s, some of which have never been opened before. “I’ve been connecting with vendors from Great Britain, Australia, and France to make sure I have the correct decals and boxes if I don’t already have the original packaging.”
Since he was formerly Morinville’s Fire Chief, Cust also has quite a substantial collection of die-cast firefighter memorabilia and collectibles.
“Last year, I set up a display of vintage toys at Smith’s Music during Christmas time, and it was a huge hit,” he said. The success of that event, and his friendship with Smith, who is also the owner of Smith’s Music, helped Cust realize the store would be a fun and personally rewarding venture.
Smith and Cust are also partners in the annual Cars and Guitars show in Town.
“Doing the shop like this, it means all this great stuff that reminds people of their childhood or reminds them of something important to them is out there—it’s not just sitting in a basement or being sold off, piece-by-piece, on eBay.”
Cust said some customers have come into his store looking for a unique gift for their dads or other family members, a record or die cast they haven’t seen in years. “And really, if I don’t already have it, I’ll help them track it down,” he remarked.
Noting there is a big resurgence in some of these old-school items, Cust talked about another store in Town that also specializes in antiques and collectibles, Mercantile.
“Susan [Swanson] and Dave [Mills] from Mercantile have been so great, and we’ve been in touch since even before they opened their store. We are aiming to have complimentary businesses,” explained Cust, who says items related to old music or iconic 50s memorabilia, for example, are being directed towards Ron’s Collectibles, while antique furniture and household items, some toys and other unique pieces are directed to Mercantile.
“We’re a great match. I hope people will come visit one shop and then the other because, together, we make up a really wonderful collection between the two of us in Town.”
Cust will once again be erecting a special holiday display at the shop this December, one that focuses on vinyl records with a Christmas theme. “People can come in and listen to Burl Ives and Andy Williams on LP like they did in the good old days.”
Renovations on Smith’s Plaza are expected to be completed by early 2017. A third business, a massage and wellness studio will also be located in the building.
Cust said he could be reached at 587-783-5134 for those looking to shop at Ron’s Collectibles by appointment.