Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Yes, That was Sam the Record Man

The iconic Sam the Record Man flagship store on Younge Street in Toronto. Taken by me in 2001

Very sad news for music retail. The Sam the Record Man flagship store in downtown Toronto is closing for good on June 30. Changing times, new technology, and declining CD sales are contributing to the decision.

I can't help but feel sad for this. I live nowhere near Toronto, but I have previously seen the store up close on a day of sightseeing in that city back in 2001 (It was on a walk from Front and Simcoe to the Eaton Centre). In hindsight, I feel deeply ashamed that I never went inside that store (it was in trouble then, too) at that particular time. I did go to one of their chain stores, there was one in Saskatoon at Midtown Plaza, a long time ago when they had more than three locations, but I would know that is nothing like the original store, without stepping inside it myself.

Looking up articles about the closure, I found some interesting details. The store was only 40,000ft², but carried 400,000 titles. Sam Sniderman, the gent who founded the store, gave unsigned artists space in his store to sell their music. He was also responsible for pushing CanCon regulations for broadcasters, earning him the Order of Canada, and the respect of musicians throughout the country.

If you live in Toronto, or can get there before the close of business today, Sam's holding an auction of the store's memorabilia, including posters, signs and other collectables, today at the Younge Street store. The only things not for sale are the large neon signs up on the front of the store. Those are being protected by the City of Toronto, and will stay where they are from now on.

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