The passing of a Canadian Icon

I spent half my disposable income there in the early 80's, found true love inside (many cherished LPs), and outside (met my first wife on that very corner.) And now they're calling it quits after 40 years.

Canada's icon of music since 1961, Sam The Record Man, declared bankruptcy on Tuesday. The 81-year old Sam hoped that his flagship Yonge St. store would continue to operate after the bankruptcy, but revealed that the family had supported the money-losing chain for several years. No doubt HMV, Future Shop and the Internet took their irrecoverable toll on one of Toronto's most known music landmarks.

I can remember hunting for impossible-to-find Mobile Fidelity titles, the huge hangar-sized classical and jazz departments, and a staff that seem to know where anyone who had ever recorded anything at anytime was precisely located.

This was a store that still carried vinyl and lots of it, and where browsing for hours was encouraged. And openly supporting and promoting home-grown talent that would have otherwise gone unoticed was a Sam's trademark that help many Canadian musicains make their mark, both domestically and abroad.

Sam's was dragged kicking and screaming into the CD and online ages -- never succumbing to the fast pace and flashy interiors of today's multimedia superstores. Perhaps that was his demise, but it is also a somewhat sad reflection of how retailing has changed. So many Saturday nights I spent, flipping through LP's, listening to the classical choices on the in-store system, and asking questions to which I always received answers. This was a part of my life.

Sam, you will be sadly missed by all.
You know, my local Tower Records in the early and mid-80's was very much like you describe Sam's. There were hangar-sized classical and jazz departments (all vinyl back then) and extremely knowledgeable music buffs working there who could direct you to incredible finds. Like you, I spent many hours there (the store was open every night till midnight!), browsing and schmoozing. I learned so much about current rock and new wave from dedicated employees' picks and recommendations. These remain some of my absolute favorite LPs, though I really prefer jazz and acoustic for most of my listening nowadays. So it's not just sole-proprietor neighborhood record stores that have succumbed to modern retail sameness and hype. Even Tower used to be a great gathering place for discussing and finding great music. In my neighborhood (Wash DC) we also used to have Kemp Mill, Melody Music, and Olsson's, which have also drastically changed if not disappeared. No one at Borders knows anything about music.
Our Toronto Tower Records, just down the street from Sam's Flagship Yonge St. store passed away last month. I was a frequent visitor there.

But SAM'S was truly a mainstay and I do hope that someone takes over and updates the Yonge store...nostalgia only sells so much. From 1968 through to-day Sam's was a friendly refuge from the the loud and brash "bigs".

Besides, one could enjoy a great steak at Barberian's across the block after scoring one's favourite new LP!
Lorne I am sure we crossed paths many a Saturday night.I spent many a night there fliping Lp's in the 70's and 80's.Sams will be missed.
Barrington street, Halifax will not be the same with the 3 floors of sam's gone. I can never thank the staff there enough for all the awesome music they were responsible for getting me into. Mary Black, Nanci Griffith, Kate Cambell, Lyle Lovett, Greg Brown,Garnet Rogers.Maureen O'conner, to name a few. I always bought there when I was in the city....We've lost part of our family....I shall miss you. Bluenose
Yeah I remember when Tower Records in the village NYC was an INCREDIBLE vinyl source with rows of all import and a rack of audiophile LPs and a whole floor of classical.. now of course all cd. Record Archive in Rochester NY was good and does anyone remember the heydays of Record theatre in Buffalo and Rochester NY? the buffalo store had an import section and big Altec 19's hanging from the ceiling.
Good News:
Although Sams went bankrupt - his son has bought the Yonge street store from the creditors and will keep it OPEN !! - lets hope he has his Dad's personality and will also set aside space for all the up and coming artists like his father did.
More good news. After closing its doors on Barrington st, Halifax, NS. Word is that this Sams' location[which always made money] is reopening......great news and the staff remains, with all their love of music and great artists. I wish them all the best.
Like it or not, it's a sign of the times. No one who takes music seriously has counted on finding anything meaningful in places like Tower. Tower use to be a music store run by people remotely interested in people. Now it's run by dim witted air heads who think they are rock stars. Added to the mix that Tower sells everything from candy bars to soft porn and it has become the biggest who cares around. Tough. The internet has realistically leveled the playing field. How many of us check our respective bidding pages before going off to work everyday? How much did you bid on that Beatle or Hendrix album? Or the Mercury Living Presence? Do you really want to stop off at Tower to hear the latest Slipknot? Kid Rock,rocks not! I live in metro Wash DC and the record/music terrain is changing drastically. But, there are a couple shops that serve the serious music collectors and hopefully they will continue to be fun places to visit. Tower use to be like a five star resturant, a place you didn't care how much you spent as you always got what you paid for(usually). Now it's fast food. No quality, all attitude. Thank God for the used cd stores. The only thing that scares me is the mail-order houses that serve our hobby ( you know who they are) are slowly becoming the hustler's that Tower became. Just how many Sinply Vinyl titles did you buy last week? Yet all of mail order houses are running sales on them. I wish us all luck. Meanwhile the most fun you can have in the hobby are the record collector shows, they have it all.
Declaring bankruptcy does not necessarily mean going out of business. Companies reorganize all the time and sometimes use this as a way to keep going.
Ture there are several ways to file bankruptcy but the reasons are usually a) to restucture the debts or b) to erase the debt. The causes are basic supply and demand, most of the time too much supply and too little demand.