R.I.P. Sam The Record Man-Sniderman
The sign outside Sam The Record Man’s flagship store read, “Even The BUS Stops At Sam’s”
5 years ago illegal downloads and iTunes shut down the iconic store on Yonge Street and on Sunday it’s founder, Sam Sniderman passed away at the age of 92. Sam’s passing closes an important chapter in Canadian music history. Although there are still many active bricks and mortar music retailers, nobody did it longer and better than Sam The Record Man-Sniderman.
I grew up in Toronto and spent many a Friday night drifting up and down Yonge Street between A&As, Records On Wheels & The Record Peddler...but I always went to Sams first. It was a dusty old place, the bins were decades old, the walls were lined with autographed black & white photos of Sam & the pop & rock star of the moment...and there were records EVERYWHERE. They simply didn’t have room for all the stock. Sam was a huge supporter of music, especially Canadian music. Sam would dedicate a huge amount of floor space and the front window of the store to new Canadian music. When you stepped into his stores it was in your face and in your ears. Sam’s had a great staff with first hand knowledge of the music in the bins and the release dates of upcoming albums. The iTunes store doesn’t have that kind of personal touch.
In coming days you're going to read a lot about Sam Sniderman and Sam The Record Man in Canadian newspapers and online entertainment sites. You’re going to read a whole lot of nostalgia... trips to Sam’s after concerts, midnight lineups for big new albums but mostly the gigantic Boxing Day sales when dedicated music fans would line up in the wee hours to be the first to get in the doors. I would scope out my Boxing Day picks weeks in advance, with a keen eye on rare imports that I knew would be marked down 25%. On Boxing Day, all the music stores had deals...but if Sam didn’t have the best discount he always had the best and deepest stock.
I was not alone in this.
I don’t know if buying music means as much to people anymore. Now, music is ubiquitous. Who doesn't love the almost universal accessibility to music. Inconvenient as may seem, there was something satisfying about making the trip downtown to Sam's and getting that album, peeling back the shrink wrap and playing the music. It seemed essential. It seemed important!
Clicking "buy" in iTunes store on my computer has never been as fulfilling as going to Sam's.