Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Lights Have Gone Off

When last weekend passed so did the lights on a Toronto Yonge Street Icon the Sam The Record Man Store Front! The chain was first launched in 1937 by Sam Sniderman, as a record department in his family's existing radio store in Toronto. In 1961, the store moved out to its own location on Yonge Street, and its location at 347 Yonge Street had become a Toronto landmark. The Yonge Street location was always noted for its kitschy signage. Its first neon signage included the store's address in large neon "347" numbers vertically aligned between two windows. On the left side was a thermometer made from neon. On the far right was a neon multi-sectioned triangle similar to the one on top of the Canada Life Building, which indicated weather conditions depending on how it was blinking. In the late 1960s, the iconic double disc, spinning records neon sign replaced the previous neon signs.

On May 29, 2007, Jason and Bobby Sniderman announced that the iconic flagship store, on Toronto's Yonge and Gould Streets, would close permanently on June 30, 2007. They stated that "their decision reflects the increasing impact of technology on the record industry." On May 30, 2007, supporters started a Facebook group to save the store's neon spinning record signs titled "Save the Sam's Sign!!!"; the group, and its attached online petition, garnered more than 18,000 members. On June 14, 2007, it was announced that the sign, and the contents of the store would be auctioned-off by Benaco Sales on June 27. However, on June 22, 2007, the Toronto city council voted in favor of designating the entire property as a heritage site, protecting the entire building, including the landmark signs. The entire building was designated because the Ontario Heritage Act has no provisions to protect store signs.
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