Computers & Electronics

CompuSmart, NCIX, what else do you miss from the olden days?

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  • Feb 17th, 2020 8:19 am
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CompuSmart, NCIX, what else do you miss from the olden days?

This thread isn't going to be interesting to many people, but for those of you who grew up in Toronto and were out and about in the early 2000s, I'm sure you have some valuable memories of the computer shop scene. Back when Future Shop had great boxing day deals, when Plantronics headsets were actually decent (and used for gaming) and when the Athlon 64 was cutting edge. Err, at least, that's what I recall. Please feel free to leave your memories of those times gone by - I sort of want to fill in the gaps in my memory and see what I might've missed out on.


Here's some memories I recall:

CompuSmart was the shit and was a store that was way cooler than their name, rip to the founder. I remember visiting their Scarborough and Fairview locations. The Scarborough location was in Kennedy Commons, where the Moore's is now. Basically, it was close to all the discount computer stores (I think factory direct was around by the time I was going there, as well as MDG). There were some other low tier computer shops around there too. From what I remember, THE gaming mouse at the time was the Logitech MX518 (with the weird finish that looked like it had dents in it). I only had a lowly Logitech MX500. A I think complexity had a gamer who had a mouse named after him around then. CompuSmart always had a section basically for gaming peripherals - which was pretty cool and way ahead of their time. They also frequently bought out the last page (back page) of the Metro newspaper to post their ads.

CompuSmart also had a location in the second floor of Fairview mall (apparently there's a Kiddie Kobbler or GNC there now - it was in that nook that got you to the front entrance of Rainbow Cinemas). Around 2003-2004, I think I remember visiting their store and seeing one of their display gaming PCs that had a ton of clear acrylic panels. I forget how they mounted the motherboard in that thing. I think I remember that PC was running NFSU for people to demo and play. Also, I think, they had a mini-fridge of Bawls. Pretty damn cool store back then.

NCIX came way later for me (I used to go to the one on Midland), but I always remember how weird it was that the front of the store was so small and you'd have to wait 5 minutes for the back room to bring your order out to you, even if you were a walk-in customer ready to buy something right then and there. Now, that plaza is just filled with boba and gaming cafes. Pretty cool spot.

FactoryDirect, honestly, hasn't really changed. Tons of discount nearly-garbage tier stuff in dusty plastic bags. Sometimes there were good deals, sometimes there weren't. They had an Inauguration sale when Obama got elected LMAO. They also had (and I think still have) ugly ass ads in the Metro.

CanadaComputers has been an MVP for me. The locations I remember most : Waterloo (on Weber St) and Toronto (kennedy). The Kennedy location used to have a wall of shame as soon as you entered, where all the people who stole stuff had their pictures posted. That was hilarious. I will remember (and probably continue to experience) how packed their parking lot got on boxing day and how you'd struggle to get out of your car, trying not to fall into a puddle, because the pavement was in a such a state of disrepair lmao. Side note: it seems like their return policy has actually gotten better over the years. I visited last Christmas and they said that I could return a PSU after opening it, without a restocking fee.


So yeah, I'm interested in hearing what the RFD community remembers about the older days, what do y'all remember?
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May 22, 2005
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Pacific Mall also had 4 or 5 computer stores, I remember a friend buying a $600 video card in high school and said how it'll last him for life.
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Compucenter was like a mini compusmart... owned by the same parent company. Always had some "Free after MIR" deals on boxing day. I think I am still using a few power bars that I got that way from Compucenter!
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As far as in GTA around 2000-2005ish, there weren't that many computer/electronic shops outside of downtown (around spadina/college?) not with the amount of stuff that was moved in a day were talking tens of thousands of dollars per shop. Canada computers being the busiest and usually the cheapest. I remember a few other names trying to undercut them by a few dollars but that usually wouldnt work. Cash only too. Remembering back now, buying expensive computer parts with cash in your pocket wasn't really fun, neither was dealing with CC's mostly terrible salesmen (zoomer years). It was an experience though.
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I remember Compucentre as well. I used to buy PC games and ZIP DISKS from them when I needed more storage. I remember I had a very small HDD. I think at one point I owned 10-15 ZIP DISKS. 100MB for $20, they were not cheap.

There was a giant PC computer store in Mississauga https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_City it was called Computer City Canada.
In Canada, Computer City Canada stores were sold from CompUSA to Future Shop of whom in the end liquidated all Canadian Computer City locations.
I don't remember if they had any more locations but that Mississauga store was like a warehouse. They had so much space, loved walking around there and looking at all the hardware, software, etc. Shame they closed down before the 2000's.

After that I remember mostly Tigerdirect had a few locations around the GTA, they used to mail flyers to your house. Then after that mostly it was just more Canada Computer stores opening up all over the place for the go to brick and mortar stores, otherwise it was Newegg and NCIX online and your random mom and pop computer stores.

These days its just CC to go to if you need hardware in a hurry or want too look at particular peripheral in person instead of ordering something online, not liking it and returning it for something else.
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heyyahblah wrote: I remember Compucentre as well. I used to buy PC games and ZIP DISKS from them when I needed more storage. I remember I had a very small HDD. I think at one point I owned 10-15 ZIP DISKS. 100MB for $20, they were not cheap.

There was a giant PC computer store in Mississauga https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_City it was called Computer City Canada.


I don't remember if they had any more locations but that Mississauga store was like a warehouse. They had so much space, loved walking around there and looking at all the hardware, software, etc. Shame they closed down before the 2000's.

After that I remember mostly Tigerdirect had a few locations around the GTA, they used to mail flyers to your house. Then after that mostly it was just more Canada Computer stores opening up all over the place for the go to brick and mortar stores, otherwise it was Newegg and NCIX online and your random mom and pop computer stores.

These days its just CC to go to if you need hardware in a hurry or want too look at particular peripheral in person instead of ordering something online, not liking it and returning it for something else.
The problem with TigerDirect is that they do not sell Tigers. Imagine you walk into a store named ComputerDirect and they did not sell computers but instead sold Tigers.
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Sep 8, 2004
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Radio Shack, before the Bell buyout (in Canada) and the stupid name change. Able to make mini-computer like devices, and cheap. Also had the best deals on Rogers' phones and plans, even better than employee pricing!

Active Surplus, my next go-to for tinkering stuff and other gadgets.

My local satellite TV dealer, for reprogramming the smart card and receiver eeprom when the cloned and cracked yearly subscription would end. Still remember him tinkering with the ChipMaster 7000 and him showing me how to use it! Never had to use FTAs (which would go down regularly) or those virtual online keys.
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Memories from Calgary:

- Doppler Computers. I remember walking into that store by Chinook for the first time as a teen and being in awe at just how much computer stuff there was! Almost felt like a Future Shop but with just computers and I was in heaven! Sure, the prices weren't great, but man did it look awesome!

- Firestorm Computers. Yes, 20 years later I still remember them fondly. The LAN parties in the back warehouse area were always fun, I also remember when they built the "Wall of fans" so people could see just how loud those darn Delta screamers really were! Grinning Face With Smiling Eyes They also were the ones who made me not buy a machine from Voodoo Computers as Voodoo was expensive as hell!

- Memory Express when there was just one location in the SW. A time when they were often nicknamed "The Yellow Store" partly due to the ads in The Computer Paper being a 2-page spread on yellow paper (not to mention their signs were yellow instead of green like they are now). I probably still have a bunch of those somewhere!
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Sep 8, 2004
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Devhux wrote: ...The Computer Paper...
Ahh, yes! Who could forget about that! Before RFD we had to scour the ink riddled, AOL on a disc paper to scope out the deals and see who had what in stock. This was before there was an Amazon or Google to search, you youngins! Face With Stuck-out Tongue And Tightly-closed Eyes
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I'm surprised no one has mentioned the two free free computer newspapers that would advertise these stores, and had reviews and helpful articles. I'm drawing a blank on the names right now.
But the best place to get computer parts was the annual Computer Show on the CNE fairgrounds. Really good deals there, I often waited to by stuff for the show because of the prices, plus I could visit many of these shops in one convenient location.
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Sep 8, 2004
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BernardRyder wrote: I'm surprised no one has mentioned the two free free computer newspapers that would advertise these stores, and had reviews and helpful articles. I'm drawing a blank on the names right now.
One was literally mentioned 3hrs earlier in 2 posts above yours Face With Stuck-out Tongue And Tightly-closed Eyes

-The Computer Paper
-Toronto Computes!
-Vancouver Computes!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Computer_Paper
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in the end all three were owned by the same company. And towards the end TCP was 80% ads with some weird articles on games that was 4 year old.
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cheap sk8 wrote: Ahh, yes! Who could forget about that! Before RFD we had to scour the ink riddled, AOL on a disc paper to scope out the deals and see who had what in stock. This was before there was an Amazon or Google to search, you youngins! Face With Stuck-out Tongue And Tightly-closed Eyes
Haha! Indeed!

And yes, the ink would get on our hands at times (I can't say it was the best quality print, but gosh darnit it was the real source for local PC ads and such!
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Omg tigerdirect deals. 29.99 after 300 in MIR's and 3-6 months later. My god it was a procedure to fill them out exactly right or else! I don't miss that and never understood it.

Then the orignal TD deal threads would reappear once the checks came or didn't.

Remember the ebay, aliepxress scam deals before everyone learned their lesson. Reading the outrage some people had they didn't get a $2500 product they only paid 80 for and how outraged it wasn't coming LOL! I miss those they were the best. The complaints were hilarious.

Or Monday posts after staples PM sunday phantom stock deals were all cancelled was better than anything on primetime tv.
Last edited by lead on Feb 14th, 2020 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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BernardRyder wrote: But the best place to get computer parts was the annual Computer Show on the CNE fairgrounds. Really good deals there, I often waited to by stuff for the show because of the prices, plus I could visit many of these shops in one convenient location.
I remember going to the computer show in 1996 and playing Descent 2 against a bunch of other kids. A few years later when I was about 17 I helped run one of those booths. We set up a bunch of computers for a LAN party and charged people to play Unreal Tournament. Good times.
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