Spy City helps customers buy peace of mind

At first glance, it seems like a store for government conspirators and wannabe secret agents. But, according to its manager Terrence Lo, most of Spy City’s customers are just looking to keep track of their lives with home security systems.

Fifty per cent are either looking for security items or walk into the store just to check out what items are sold. Thirty-three per cent come to the store after a life or death situation, such as having been robbed or severely threatened.

Lastly, 17 per cent of customers are the stereotypical “odd-ball” who just walk in and walk out. Calgary resident Steph Pauls falls into the 50 percentile.

Terrence Lo, manager of Spy City, models one of the many spy gadgets the store sells.

Photo by Hannah Cawsey“I thought it was neat. I wanted to see what they had,” said Pauls about her recent visit to Spy City. “I wouldn’t rule (purchasing something) out, but I don’t think I’d go out of my way to buy something.”

When asked who she thought shops at Spy City, she stated “paranoid people who think their lover is cheating, but I know that’s wrong. I think it’s mostly people who like to know things.”

But it turns out both answers are not actually far from the truth.

Lo said he often helps Calgary residents who suspect their spouse of cheating with items such as home chemical tests, specialty trackers, software and cameras to gather evidence.

The store also provides home security and personal safety items for those who have nowhere to turn to after a break in or life threatening encounter.

“This is not the average store, unless the goal is home security,” Lo said.

“When it comes to private disputes or (when customers) just don’t know where to turn to, we can provide them with unusual solutions.”

Among its most popular items, according to Lo, are nanny cams – recording devices that parents can use to check up on what nannies and the children they take care of are doing.

But those looking to get a close-up of all this specialty surveillance gear may be disappointed.

For your eyes only?

The store is not wall to wall covered with items. Most are displayed are behind the counter or behind locked selves for safety purposes.

In fact, Spy City’s most eye-catching attraction – it’s infamous grey and red limo – isn’t even in the store.

The owner, Elizabeth Janikowska, acknowledged the limo is one giant billboard, fetching a lot of attention for the store.

When asked what was inside, the only words spoken by the Janikowska were, “It’s classified.”

hcawsey@cjournal.ca