“The hobby’s in good condition,” says Dwayne Miner, owner of Stampede City Stamps.
“Stamp collecting is great, as there’s flexibility.”
Located on the west side of 14th Street S.W., just north of 17th Avenue in the Beltline, Stampede City Stamps looks like just another quasi-kitschy shop devoted to what some may think is an outdated hobby, stamp-collecting.
Once inside, albeit still quasi-kitschy, the store wouldn’t be out of place in a Wes Anderson movie.
What sounds like European-folk and slack-key guitar music plays on a stereo system from a shelf behind the cash register.
The walls are lined with boxes, binders and archives full of stamps, categorized by theme, country and era.
At the centre of the store sits a Honduran mahogany dining table where Miner and an employee sort stamps and packages for customers.
The mahogany table is a story in itself.
It is so heavy, according to Miner, that a piano mover would have to be called in to get it out of the store.
Miner says that despite the fact stamp collecting remains popular, his business has been hit hard by the recent recession in Calgary. That’s what happens to businesses that rely on their customers’ disposable income.
One would think that the shift in how our society communicates, from sending letters through the post, to forms of digital communication, would affect stamp-collecting.
But you would be wrong about that, apparently.
Despite stamp collecting being intertwined with physical mail service, Miner said that the hobby is able to thrive because of baby boomers picking it up again as they get older.
Because stamp-collecting doesn’t require much physical activity, it can be done anywhere and at any time.
Miner recalls that 20 years ago, he was asked what he thought the hobby would look like in the future.
He answered then that he didn’t have a clue, and he still thinks that today.
“My crystal ball [starts to] get a little murky,” said Miner.
Miner said that because stamp-collecting deals with collectibles that are connected with geography, history and politics, one can get, “smarter than the average bear,” and learn all sorts of tidbits of history and trivia.
“If you can think it, you can collect it,” said Miner.
The pieces of history housed in Stampede City Stamps aren’t just the little slips of paper.
That mahogany table once had its home in Government House in Edmonton, which is the official home of the Lieutenant-Governor of the province.
According to Miner, many historical figures who visisted Edmonton sat at the table.
Program guides from the days that the table was housed in Edmonton showed that Sir Winston Churchill, at least twice, and King George VI dined at the table.
Miner explained that although the average age of his clientele is creeping up, there are still children and young people interested in stamp-collecting, and that there are two junior stamp-collecting clubs in the city.
Miner said that Stampede City Stamps has been at its current location for 12 out of the store’s 22 years, and plans on staying for as long as possible.
“I love going to work every day, I love what I do,” said Miner.
Walls full of history. Boxes of historic stamps from all around the world line the walls of Stampede City Stamps located on the corner of 16th Ave. SW and 14th St. SW in downtown Calgary, Alta. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. Dwayne Miner, owner and operator of Stampede City Stamps, said that his store is the largest store in Canada dedicated solely to stamp collecting. (Photo by Ruwald de Fortier/The Press)