Fans pick up Sam the Record Man memorabilia before flagship closes
For one of the final times, hundreds of music fans streamed through the doors of Toronto's historic Sam the Record Man store Wednesday to satisfy their craving for music and memorabilia.
"The mandate of the Sniderman family was to allow the customers who have been frequenting their premises for so long to come in and look and hunt for that one piece that they remember hanging in the store and have the opportunity to buy it," David Sisak, a partner with auction company Benaco Sales, told CBC News on Wednesday.
"They, in true Sam's style, just wanted to open the doors on the street to their people and let them come in and let them have a piece of what had to go, unfortunately."
Sisak, who said the flagship Sam's location "was an old stomping ground for me," pointed out that the wide range of items meant that prices for some lots would start as low as $5.
He also mentioned several items that he considered most valuable: the trio of four-metre-wide neon spinning disc signs from the Gould Street facade and a series of slatboards that hung from the ceiling and that, over the years, had been signed by artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Stephen Tyler and ZZ Top.
The atmosphere was festive as representatives from Benaco auctioned about 850 items from inside the venerable Canadian music retailer.
Everything from autographed platinum records by Bryan Adams to signed photos of Gordon Lightfoot to used stereo equipment was up for auction.
Movie and TV posters, marquee signs, bar stools, antique furniture,stuffed figuresand an old Wurlitzer jukebox were among the lots lined up inside the downtown Toronto store.
Suzannah Therrien was among the wide-eyed music fans who picked up items at the auction, ultimately spending $250 on several old country records.
"You know, it's just a piece of history, honestly," she said. "You hang it on your wall. It's just a part of your life."
Sam's well-knownneon display — the two massive spinning records on the Yonge Street facade — and the Sam the Record Man sign at the entrance were not for sale.
The City of Toronto has designated the store and its instantly familiar signs as historically significant, and the city will negotiate with future owners of the property to maintain the signs in their current locations.
Founder Sam Sniderman broke away from his family's appliance and car radio shop to get into the record business in 1937. Over the years, he became a fixture in the Canadian music scene and his storeswere renowned for devotion to domestic artists, carrying hard-to-find titles and knowledgeable staff.
Sniderman was eventually recognized with several prominent honours, including the Order of Canada.
Over the past decade, nearly all of the Sam's locations across Canada shut down. Citing declining traditional music sales, Sniderman's sons, Jason and Bobby, announced in May that the flagship would close at the end of June.
The original Sam's location, which first opened in 1960, will close its doors for good on Saturday. Two remaining franchise stores in the Ontario cities of Belleville and Sarnia remain open under separate ownership.