(This article is sponsored by Simply Computing.)
If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to ignite a spirited conversation with your friends, it surely has to be reminiscing about the past.
Remember when the success of a school project was dependant on getting to the library before your classmates? Or when having photographic evidence of your life involved fitting a bulky camera into your bag and waiting to have the pictures developed before finding out that there was a smudge on the lens?
Yes, the ‘90s were awkward for us in more ways than one. And yet, somehow, the concept of spending hours perusing the shelves in a video store seems more appealing than the current arguments with our S.O. relentlessly scrolling through Netflix.
Hey, they’re not called the good old days for nothing.
So let’s start by going back to 1984, a big year for perms and an even bigger year for technology. While Steve Jobs was launching the Macintosh, B.C.-based Simply Computing was opening the doors of its very first store in Delta.
It was a few years later, while Amanda Cameron was still in high school, that she started working Saturdays on reception at Simply.
“Back then we were mainly selling PCs. Macs were just a little corner in the back of the store,” she says of the family business.
Amanda has spent the past 28 years working her way up through the ranks in shipping, accounting, and now in management as the chief operating officer.
While the technology has changed dramatically, Simply’s mandate as the friendly computing experts has remained the same. It is now the largest independent Apple retailer in Western Canada and is still locally owned and operated by Amanda’s step-father, Gord McOrmond.
So in the spirit of nostalgia and to celebrate the upcoming 20th anniversary of Simply’s Vancouver location, we spoke to Amanda and took a trip down memory lane.
1998: the first bite of the Apple
Simply’s synchronicity with Apple continued into 1998 with the opening of the store’s second location in Vancouver and the launch of the iMac in the same year.
“The iMac was a big deal because it was affordable and people could get it in their homes,” says Amanda.
“I remember we called it the fishbowl or the aquarium,” she laughs. “The big Bondi blue!”
Sure, the iMac was cumbersome and pricey but it really was the first commercially successful personal computer. And the timing couldn’t have been better for Simply.
“That was around the time when people started accessing the Internet as well,” adds Amanda.
Although it’s hard to believe now, before Google was a verb, it was a startup company being developed in the back of a garage. And it wasn’t until 1998 that the world’s largest search engine was officially incorporated.
2001: iPod and iTunes are music to our ears
Remember when listening to music on the move meant a portable CD player and the daylong commitment to one album—or if you were really in the habit of killing songs, a single? A time when CD racks and your vacation hand luggage were stuffed full with rows upon rows of boxes and discs.
Then in 2001, Apple launched the iPod and iTunes, which really revolutionized how we listen to music. Suddenly, technology was giving us choice, freedom, and convenience.
“There are no more CDs or tapes,” says Amanda. “You just download music online and you don’t have to order an entire album, you just pick and choose the songs that you want.”
And nowadays, the only place to find a piece of ‘90s nostalgia is on your playlist—no judgement here.
2007: iPhone, you phone, we all phone Apple
At the risk of sounding old, we can still recall a time when contacting someone in a different location meant sourcing a landline or a payphone. Then came cellphones and just when we thought we were content with buttons and text messages, Apple launched the iPhone. The smartest of all smartphones, the touchscreen iPhone has become so much more than just a communications tool. It has put our lives—from our personal photos to our work emails, to our hobbies, our music, and everything in between—into a device that fits into our pockets.
Looking (and listening) forward
More recently, in 2016, the AirPods have proven to be one of Apple’s most successful products, with shipments set to double this year. These breakthrough headphones reinvent the wireless experience, making it effortless. After a simple one-tap setup, AirPods are always connected, meaning they are ready to go when you are.
Looking forward, there are rumours of another Apple announcement and Amanda says that as soon as that happens, an order will be made to satisfy Simply’s many loyal customers—some of whom will put their names down to ensure they are first on the list.
But Amanda, like Simply, relishes the changes.
“We’ve really kept up,” she says. “We service and repair everything. We’re doing financing and leasing for customers now. We have our own extended warranty plan called SimplyGuard. And then we’re really focusing on training customers and teaching them how to use Mac to optimize their use of technology to their advantage.”
And Simply’s main goal is to make sure the customers are happy. For Amanda, that means knowing that they can come into the store, see a friendly face, and receive the one-on-one personalized service that you may not get elsewhere.
“There’s a lot of people who have worked here for a long time. They’ve been through a lot of changes and helped the company to grow and adapt,” she says. “I think we have a really awesome crew here.”
Now, Simply has more than 80 employees in seven stores and 12 express locations. But for a company at the forefront of delivering the products of the future, Amanda does not forget the importance of remembering the past.
“A shout out to all our customers who have been coming here and shopping local for 20 years,” she adds. “We appreciate all the customers’ loyalty and business over the years.”