For Torontonians of the era, the closing of the Flagship Sam's Record store on Yonge Street in 2001 was truly the end of an era. Since 1937 this 140 store record giant led the way in music retail. In the late 1960s, the iconic spinning record replaced the previous neon signs, with the second neon record being added in the mid 1980's.  
I remember heading down from Richmond Hill on the Subway as a kid to lug back as much vinyl as my wallet could afford. Often collaborated a meet (via a real rotary telephone - no cells back then) with my good friend and vinyl aficionado Yuri. I anticipated that trip weekly and could not wait to crack open the finds on my arrival back up North. Sam's if I recall, was four floors of Genres with bargain bins and tapes galore. Gone are the days when you'd wait in line for your purchases to ring through. Christmas was unreal! Lines to the back of the store. It was as I look back  true engaged, experience. Have conversations with staff about releases and special pressings. The visit would last hours and it was not out of the norm to weather any storm to get there. 

Another shop a few steps away was Peter Dunn's Vinyl museum. Deleted Funkadelic records still sealed in the days when nobody actually wanted the stuff, every Stevie Nicks record ever released, of course Jonathan Richmond and strange old Rock Operas from the early Seventies, you name it! You could find it, touch it and acquire it. I scored my first pressing of Nucleus self titled LP for $25.00 there.

With what has been called the resurgence of vinyl, could we see another retail vinyl giant like this ever again? Perhaps this blogger is clinging to tightly to the memories of the past. 


  1. When I worked in Toronto, I used to make a stop downtown to do the circuit during the height of the music retailers. Sam's of course, A&A's, Peter Dunn's vinyl museum, Records on Wheels, Sunrise Records, HMV, Tower Records and a good number of smaller non-franchise sellers. After checking the prices, I'd double-back and pick up the best prices. Reading the album covers for specifics was half the blast. Now we settle for a binary code download with rarely a info booklet. It's up to us to back our purchase up so as not to lose it. Never thought I'd see the demise...

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