Sam the Record Man, the one-time cross-Canada music store chain, will close its iconic downtown Toronto flagship location next month.
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 forthe 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."
Over the past decade, the doors have closed on most of the Sam the Record Man locations, stores that were often touted for their devotion to Canadian artists, cache of hard-to-find titles and knowledgeable staffers.
"The greatest asset we have are this wealth of employees that have worked with us, that are like our family and who have an encyclopedic knowledge of music," Sniderman said.
The Sniderman family originally operated a shop selling appliances and car radios, but Sam Sniderman decided to break away and get into the record business in 1937 —in order to impress a girl who was interested in music, Bobby Sniderman said.
"That story of love has turned into this overall labour of love we all have for this store," he said.
The first Sam the Record Man location was on College Street, but around 1960, the operation moved to its now famed location on Yonge Street, where the four-storey store sits emblazoned with the fabled spinning records neon signage.
Though the chain was once one of Canada's top music retailers, with 130 stores across the nation, it has suffered from fierce competition from multinational chains and the advent of online music sharing and purchasing.
In 2001, the firm filed for bankruptcy, but the flagship shop in Toronto was able to reopen in 2002.
As one of Canada's most vocal proponents of domestic artists and a major supporter of the establishment ofCanadian contentregulations for radio, Sam Sniderman has won a host of honours, including being named a member of the Order of Canada and winning the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts. He retired in 2000.
Following the upcoming shuttering of the Toronto flagship, two franchise locations in Ontario will remain open: Belleville and Sarnia.