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Sam the Record Man Closure

syn

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This is no small thing. Their staff was really quite great-people who truly loved music. No request was too obscure, and to top it all of, they'd always have a myriad of recommendations ready at hand.

Though, when you think of it, even that aspect of the store is a relic of the past. Knowledgeable staff is something you don't really get in music stores nowadays.
I think that positive aspect was undercut by a lack of selection and until relatively recently, a very bargain store look.
 

adma

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CAA moved from Yonge + Carlton to Yonge + Adelaide just a couple of months ago.

Speaking of Freeman, is Syd Silver still there? And Fidea Jewellers is still kicking...
 

Skeezix

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12,000 pinpricks of light online to rescue Sam's classic neon sign

Jun 01, 2007 04:30 AM
Ashifa Kassam
Staff Reporter
TheStar.com

Jackie Hooper is not ready to let go of the glow.

After the shock of hearing Sam the Record Man's flagship store on Yonge St. is closing, her next thought was for the fate of the spinning-record sign that is synonymous with the location.

"I thought, you know what? We have to save that sign," says Hooper, a manager at an ad agency. "It's a landmark."

She turned to the online social networking site Facebook. "You get thousands and thousands of people joining (Facebook groups) because they like women in sweatpants, so why not for something that could bring a community together in a fun way?"

Two days after she started a group called "Save the Sam's Sign," hers and similar Facebook groups have drawn more than 12,000 supporters, "everybody from 12-year-olds to 60-year-olds with some kind of memory."

So far, suggestions range from mounting the sign in nearby Dundas Square to leaving it in place and converting the site into a restaurant or a music museum.

Owner Bobby Sniderman, a son of founder Sam Sniderman, is floored by the campaign. "I think this is wonderful. I'm flattered."

His father had wanted a design that was "really dramatic and interesting," he recalled. The neon project was "a minor feat of technology" at the time, he said.

Moving it decades later might be tricky. "The front looks great, but I'm not sure what sort of condition the actual guts are in," Sniderman says. "It's just a question of the cost, what you're going to be left with afterwards, where's it going to go."

Heritage Toronto has been deluged with emails. The agency's Rod Kelly says the city hopes to have the sign designated as a heritage site, which would require a redeveloper to keep it in place and lit up.

There are dissenters. Some Facebook messages decry the sign as a waste of energy and suggest it might be better put to rest.

Hooper is undeterred. She's planning to start an online petition.

"In Toronto, we're losing so many landmarks so quickly, that even something as seemingly unimportant as a crazy sign has huge value for people," she says.
 

dt_toronto_geek

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An odd conundrum to save retail signs. I'm as sentimental as the next person - Sam's is downtown Yonge Street to me but I don't know how these signs could be re-used or displayed. Those with imaginations much better than mine will hopefully find a way, and the money as the signs will no doubt require massive restoration. Perhaps at an entrance to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame?
 

Long Island Mike

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Save the SAM's Signs!

Everyone: Jackie Hooper is thinking like me on this subject-by getting involved making sure that a part of Toronto's recent history is saved for posterity. I think also that the owners being fully aware of this effort and supporting it that it will be accomplished. LI MIKE
 

syn

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12,000 pinpricks of light online to rescue Sam's classic neon sign

Jun 01, 2007 04:30 AM
Ashifa Kassam
Staff Reporter
TheStar.com

Jackie Hooper is not ready to let go of the glow.

After the shock of hearing Sam the Record Man's flagship store on Yonge St. is closing, her next thought was for the fate of the spinning-record sign that is synonymous with the location.

"I thought, you know what? We have to save that sign," says Hooper, a manager at an ad agency. "It's a landmark."

She turned to the online social networking site Facebook. "You get thousands and thousands of people joining (Facebook groups) because they like women in sweatpants, so why not for something that could bring a community together in a fun way?"

Two days after she started a group called "Save the Sam's Sign," hers and similar Facebook groups have drawn more than 12,000 supporters, "everybody from 12-year-olds to 60-year-olds with some kind of memory."

So far, suggestions range from mounting the sign in nearby Dundas Square to leaving it in place and converting the site into a restaurant or a music museum.

Owner Bobby Sniderman, a son of founder Sam Sniderman, is floored by the campaign. "I think this is wonderful. I'm flattered."

His father had wanted a design that was "really dramatic and interesting," he recalled. The neon project was "a minor feat of technology" at the time, he said.

Moving it decades later might be tricky. "The front looks great, but I'm not sure what sort of condition the actual guts are in," Sniderman says. "It's just a question of the cost, what you're going to be left with afterwards, where's it going to go."

Heritage Toronto has been deluged with emails. The agency's Rod Kelly says the city hopes to have the sign designated as a heritage site, which would require a redeveloper to keep it in place and lit up.

There are dissenters. Some Facebook messages decry the sign as a waste of energy and suggest it might be better put to rest.

Hooper is undeterred. She's planning to start an online petition.

"In Toronto, we're losing so many landmarks so quickly, that even something as seemingly unimportant as a crazy sign has huge value for people," she says.
They should start doing this on Facebook for all important heritage properties in danger.
 

Urban Shocker

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There ought to be a neon signage gallery in the proposed City of Toronto Museum, with this and the El Mo palm tree as the star exhibits.

Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign? - Five Man Electrical Band
 

adma

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*And* CHUM. Given land values, corporate changeover, and the future of the medium, don't say the future of 1331 Yonge is sacrosanct...
 

adma

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For that matter, even if it sounds a bit like a "facade district" travesty, how about resurrecting the neon discs as a freestanding harbour-park installation?

Note my "even if" caveat.
 

JasonParis

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*And* CHUM. Given land values, corporate changeover, and the future of the medium, don't say the future of 1331 Yonge is sacrosanct...
If CTV Globemedia's takeover of CHUM gets approved, I'd imagine one of the first things that the cost-cutters at Bell will want to do is to amalgamate their CHUM employees into one building. I'd bet that building won't be 1331 Yonge.
 

adma

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As well, the Nifty 1050 has the Sams-esque sound of a relic on its last legs (50th anniversary celebrations notwithstanding)
 

ShonTron

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I would certainly miss the "Dial 1050". But music on the AM dial in this day and age? Don't they know AM should be reserved for the right wing cranks pn the call-in shows and perhaps sports?
 

dt_toronto_geek

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Does anyone remember the 70's CHUM phone answering promo - "Don't say hello, say 'I listen to CHUM'"?
 

unimaginative2

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TORONTO GONE: SAM THE RECORD MAN

A rock shrine becomes Miss Havisham
Sam's was the place for a young man to get a musical education - but that was a long time ago
IAN COUTTS

Special to The Globe and Mail

June 2, 2007

Perhaps what is so surprising about the death of Sam the Record Man is not that, come June 30, it will be gone. (Didn't we all write its epitaph six years ago?) No, it's that, like the Ottoman Empire, it lasted as long as it did.

Look at that gaudy storefront, dominated by those unintentionally retro giant neon LPs and the "wacky" discount store-style lettering, and it has the feel of a historic monument. It seems so out of place on Yonge Street now, somehow smaller and dimmer than the stores around it.

But Sam's was never really about the way it looked on the outside. Actually, Sam's was never really about the way it looked on the inside, either - worn linoleum, hand-lettered cardboard signs, and framed faded photographs of Sam Sniderman with an endless parade of celebrities, including my favourite, Mr. Sniderman with a beaming Alice Cooper, who is clad in what can only be described as male hot pants.

No, forget about the form, the store; what mattered was the content, the music. That was Sam's glory. Certainly, rock was where the money was made, and probably at any time in the store's four-plus decades on Yonge Street just a few dozen LPs or CDs accounted for the bulk of sales. The prices were great, too - the cheapest in the city.

But what made the store so special is that Sam's (and Sam - you couldn't really separate them) took a "more is more" attitude to music. It carried everything. Need the second Muddy Waters album? A Jimmy Shand LP for your Dad's birthday? Seek no farther.

If you took the time and worked your way through the store's labyrinthine layout, you could give yourself an education. You could begin with rock up front - that was grade school - then make your way to the back of the store to check out R & B. After that, you could "graduate" upstairs to blues and folk, and finally, undertake a master's degree and check out the remainder bins that took up the whole third floor. A trip to Sam's could kill a Saturday morning. You might even buy something.

I got my job there in 1974 because I happened to walk in pretty much to the minute after a girl I knew was fired. Working there had an odd sort of glamour. You were, however peripherally, part of the music industry. You stood on a very low rung on the ladder indeed (somewhere below guitar amplifiers), and about the only people it impressed were 16-year-old girls from East York. But that's not bad when you're 19. My actual exposure to the glamour of rock was limited: Van Morrison came in to the store, and I got a complimentary Gentle Giant T-shirt from a Capitol sales rep.

What sticks were the people who worked there: Ron, the poet from Guyana who was night manager; Eleanor, a cousin (I think) of Sam's who, in 1974, boasted one of the last beehive hairdos in captivity. And then there was the crew in what I think of as the stockroom of the damned: long-haired, T-shirted guys who scurried about under low-hanging fluorescent lights and referred to albums by number("ST2635?" you'd say. "Easy," they'd snort. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band").

Writing about the death of Sam's makes you reach for the romantic clichés and start talking about the store as a shrine to music. But what it most resembles now is some cavernous old Protestant church in the inner city. It was a glorious monument in its day, full of believers. But the neighbourhood has changed, and everyone has moved away, except for a few elderly parishioners.

Sam's has that feel, too. The day after the announcement that it was closing, I dropped by for a sentimental visit. Out of maybe 15 or 20 customers in the store, one - only one - was unmistakably under 45. It's hard to believe, but a place that once seemed so fun, so intriguing, so downright indispensable, now seems as old-fashioned as the wind-up Victrola that used to sit in its front window.
 

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