Its the end of an era! Sam The Record Man on Younge Street in Toronto is closing. I’m in shock, but not surprised. Ever since I figured out how to take the subway to the downtown area, my friends and I visited Sams on Younge Street. I think I can safely say, that everytime we went downtown, we went into the store. We didn’t necessarily buy something, but we went in and looked around, and now its closing. His neon signs on Younge Street has always been a pop culture icon. Any glimpses of them, in any TV shows, or movies were a secrete indication to every Torontonian that whatever the show or movie was, it was actually being filmed in Toronto regardless of what American city it was supposed to be representing.
We spent may an hour in there browsing through the latest vinyl rock records of the day, always searching for the next best album of one of our favorite bands. He had several floors packed with records (at the time). I recall when he expanded to the next retail space and was a bit shocked when we discovered a “secrete” entrance around the corner to the store that housed this other genre of music we had never seen before. Seeing a picture of the store always brings back memories of all of the time we spent downtown. We watched as they built the then named “Eaton Centre”. We travelled through every inch of that place, trying to pickup girls and otherwise just hanging around. We got chased out of there many times. We also spent alot of times in the arcades on Younge Street. One of them was right across the street from Sams. Played lots of pinball, video games were still in their infancy back then, but we played alot of them too. There used to be a “head” shop located near Sams that we visited as well. Not to buy any of the illegal substance equipment that it was known for (no, really!) but to look at the cool rock t-shirts and posters that they also sold. There was like a sequence of places we would go when we went downtown, and Sams was one of them.
I’m a little surprised that music stores (like Sams) haven’t somehow adapted to the way technology has changed the music (delivery) industry. Someone needs to step up and come up with a unique idea to revitalize the industry. I don’t know why you couldn’t have a simple vending machine where you connect your iPod or other music player to, select a song and have it download to your music player after popping in a loonie or two. You could have a store full of these machines that have a direct connection to the internet to get the latest music available, or you could have a racks and racks of music, simply for music selection, and the result of making your selection is determining the format that you want the music in, and then paying. You could choose to have a CD created for you, or you could download them directly to your music player. We have the technology to do all of this right now, as a matter of fact most of us do that on a regular basis (albeit illegally) at home right now. I’m sure a business model could be created to do something like this. Some people like going out somewhere on a whim, and buy some music. If its made easy and cheap, I would think people would flock to the place. Why couldn’t there be a physical iTunes store somewhere?
In any case, Younge Street will not be the same without Sams there.
(All ideas expressed here are all my own!)