Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sam the Record Man closing its doors

Sam the Record Man, the one-time cross-Canada music store chain, will close its iconic downtown Toronto flagship location next month.
As of June 30, the store will be shut down.(Andrew Stawicki/Canadian Press) Jason and Bobby Sniderman, sons of founder Sam Sniderman, announced Tuesday evening that the venerable Yonge Street location will close its doors for good on June 30.
"Culture and society are changing. Our decision is a reflection on the state of the industry. We can't compete with what's happening in technology," Bobby Sniderman told CBC Wednesday morning.
He cited declining traditional CD sales and the vast availability of CDs and digital music from online retailers for the decision to close — one his family has "agonized" over.
"It was an inevitable decision. The role of the record retailer is being phased out," Sniderman said. "The store's been a labour of love for us. It's just different now than what it used to be."

Growing up in the small town of Brampton, Ontario, shopping trips to Toronto always involved a trip to Sam's to load up on vinyl records: Adam Ant, Sex Pistols, The Clash, Simple Minds, and so on. I'm totally showing my age here.

We will continue to see more and more content retailers either kick the bucket or evolve out of the hardcopy content business, but I will always have a sentimental soft spot for Sam the Record Man and his huge garish neon sign

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Flatland Pastor said...

This stirs a couple of thoughts that go beyond sentimentality for me, although I do share your feelings regarding the closing of Sam's.

I am wondering what it means for business and North American society as a whole when what were once widely shared experiences, such as music, become increasingly individual pursuits. At least in places like Sam's the metalheads, punkers, folkies, longhairs and rappers all had the opportunity to see one another and realize that they weren't alone on the planet or alone in their love of music. Now, it seems, one never need leave one's home to consume nearly anything (this has, I think, a vast ocean of ramifications attached to it that few if any have begun to address).

If a "culture" is something that must be shared to be experienced then what are we moving towards, culturally? New business models and their profit/loss efficiencies aside, I am aware that retail shopping is changing, and not always with an eye to maintaining what may be in the consumer's best interests.

I don't have answers for much of what is spinning in my head over this, but I keep coming back to the thought that the way we do things is often more important than what we actually do. The loss of Sam's may be seen soon enough as a loss that cost us more collectively than some nostalgic reminiscences.

By the way Lee, nice to see you always had great taste in music - except - Adam Ant?!? Seriously man, what were you thinking?

OK. Please forgive me. I couldn't resist. And if you perused my collection you'd find more than my fair share of pop music skeletons lurking there.

The fact is, soon it will be impossible for us to serendipitously bump into our friends at the local record shop and tease each other good-naturedly about our recent purchases. Who's business model in this brave new world is going to supply that consumer need?


Sorry 'bout the Shakespeare misquote elsewhere. I'll employ better due diligence in the future. Thanks for keeping me on my toes - even if the point shoes are killing me.

RichardatDELL said...

even a small town canadian boy in texas is saddened by this you, when visiting Toronto from my hometown in canada to being grown up and returning for visits to toronto, this was a must stop and check in...that I will miss.

Charles Farley said...

I wonder what will become of Amoeba in the Haight district in SFO? Once tangible media goes by the wayside and everything is digital delivered right to your device, those types of stores will become "antique stores" for music and video...nothing more.

Amoeba kicks major ass and is a great must visit if you are strolling in the Haight. Places like that are needed....