I recently met with Mike Turcotte, one half of the dynamic duo, who along with his wife Beth Davison, owns and operates a real treasure in downtown Sault Ste. Marie affectionately titled Vintage Games N Junque.
One of the first things you will notice about Mike is his quick wit and a real gift for friendly conversation which is sure to make your shopping experience a fun one.
The store itself is a virtual treasure trove of interesting finds and collectibles, which lends itself completely to a lengthy visit and you can be sure that you won’t feel pressured to buy something — but in all likelihood you will find something that tickles your fancy.
If you haven’t stepped foot into Vintage Games N Junque yet, what are you waiting for?
It is 3,500 square feet of fun for the whole family. They have very diverse customers from hipsters to older folk, people of all ages. In fact, Mike and Beth have purposely stocked the store with items that will appeal to virtually everyone in the family.
When we spoke, Mike informed me that it is quite common that while dad is looking at the coins collection, mom is over in the other corner looking at books or decorative pieces while the kiddos are looking at all the amazing toys, video games, action figures and other vintage games.
This type of shopping experience is exactly what Mike was aiming for; being a father of three, he knows what it’s like trying to keep everyone happy.
For those not familiar with the store’s history, it actually opened in much smaller digs on Wellington Street West in 2015 with a mere 400 square feet before moving to a larger space the following year on Bruce Street, which doubled the space they had to 800 square feet.
Since they have such a large inventory, it was a much needed move to their current location — and a smart decision.
The couple, partly through their reputation and friendly customer service, quickly developed a loyal customer base so when the opportunity to move once again arose, they decided to go for it despite being a bit hesitant given the much higher monthly cost the move to their current location would involve.
Mike is quite frank in admitting that he, at first, was nervous to even consider the move given what the building owner was asking but the owner, a friend encouraged him to go for it. He reminded Mike that the business was doing well and the new location at the former Western Tire would really help it grow and offered a great parking lot plus plenty of space to showcase all they have.
Still, Mike thought there was no way they could survive if they had to pay the amount being asked so he decided to make a counter offer for a one year lease, which was accepted. That was in June of 2017 and here we are in 2020 and the business is still going strong.
When asked if he always wanted to operate a vintage games and antique store, Mike explained that it is very much for nostalgic reasons because growing up, his dad ran two antique stores and when he was a young lad, he was put to work helping to clean antiques, move items etc.
Mike himself is an avid vintage games collector, particularly of the horror genre and he is pretty confident in saying he likely has the largest vintage game collection in the Sault and quite possibly in all of northern Ontario.
When I asked what do most people come in for, Mike quickly replied “definitely games and toys” and when you look around, you will see why.
The toys and games are all very nostalgic and so not surprisingly, their customers are of all ages because there is just something about the toys and games of the past.
Mike estimates that one third of their sales are games and toys but they do sell a decent amount of antiques. Americans in particular stop in for antiques when they travel through the city.
(It is also worth noting that Mike and Beth also own the store called Stuff on Korah Road, which is chock full of antiques, because they bought it with the entire collection the former owners had. Mike encourages anyone interested in antiques to see what they have since it is a 10,000 square feet space. They are grateful for the owners of the Skeleton Key Used Book Store who through a mutually beneficial arrangement, operate it on the days they operate their own store from there. )
Mike and Beth have a very lively Facebook page and part of what attracts customers is the fun, entertaining dynamic between the couple. In particular, the videos they post are quite amusing but also informative even though Mike jokingly tells me that he hates doing them which is evident at times and he gets called on it by Beth.
The couple has been together for 17 years and working alongside each other has its ups and downs but they make it work. When I commented on how great it is that they support other businesses so much, in his frank and honest way, he was quick to clarify that it is all his wife Beth who responsible for those things. However, they do want to see local businesses succeed and they are often giving shout outs to other businesses which is really wonderful and sincere.
The best part of owning your own shop according to Mike is the ability to make your own decisions and he doesn’t regret leaving his former management position to pursue this because he said it’s awesome that he never, ever feels like he “has to do something.” In all the years of owning his own shop, he has never had a day where he felt “I don’t want to go to work today.”
That, my friends is pretty amazing and something we should all aspire to.
As Mike said, this is an “I want” store and nothing in it is really “needed” and because of that he is incredibly grateful for the amazing and loyal customers they have.
In the short time Sault Business Matters spent with Mike, it is evident that he has found his passion and sharing it with other people is what he and Beth are meant to do. Recently, they have added some autographed authentic photos of famous people of various genres to the store that they often auction via their Facebook page and there are some pretty neat ones on display. I could tell you who is featured but now you have another reason to stop in!
The store is kind of hard to describe but by far antiques, followed by coins and finally vintage games, toys and collectibles, make up the bulk of the space with movies and books also occupying some space.
In 2018, the couple organized their first vintage and video games, comic book vendor, one day event that brought in 31 vendors — and which was very successful, attracting around 1,000 people and a first for the city called Steel City Nerdcon.
The following year, because it was so successful, they moved it to a larger venue, the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre hosting 50 vendors and attracting around 2000 people.
(Unfortunately, due to recent events relative to COVID-19, a new event called the Steel City Nostalgia Tour that was to feature Ari Lehman, the first Jason Voorhees from the famous Friday the 13th movie on April 26, had to be postponed. They hope to revisit this event and Ari (AKA Jason’s) appearance in the future so stay tuned to their Facebook feed for this and all their news.)
Vintage Games N Junque is located at 165 Queen Street East and is open seven days a week from 11a.m. to 6 p.m.
Stop in, have a chat and be prepared to stay a while to take it all in.