Music stores, Toronto
A Toronto institution for years, Sam the Record Man used to be the favourite haunt of every young person who eagerly collected music. I used to make almost daily visits, but then again I worked and lived nearby for years(I worked in that ugly building to the right in this picture).
Sam's used to claim to have any record you could think of in stock and its collection even today is still very impressive. It had fallen on hard times a few years ago because of the downloading of music over the internet and from other superstore competition nearby but for me it is still the place to go (even if they fired my cousin). I think that there has been a resurgence of sorts these days because of the sales of DVD's and computer games.
It is fun to walk through the large store, especially in it's original core, to see all the memorabilia and autographs from visiting recording artists.
Sadly Sam the Record Man will be closing down for good on June 30, 2007. Personally I saw the writing on the wall as it seemed that every time I entered the store, that customers were scares. It is a disappointment to lose a store that you have been visiting frequently for much of your adult life but alas the times they are a changing.
What to buy: Sam the Record Man's is best for rock music. There is an excellent Jazz section too. Before CD's this was the place to go for classical music but curiously enough this has fallen off considerably recently.
Canada's largest music/video/DVD store. Huge selection of pre-recorded VHS, DVD films, and all types of music. Extensive classical and jazz sections. A great place to get "hard-to-find" items. They will also special-order items for you, and may even send them to you (for a fee). ***UPDATE: Sam the Record Man now has a cafe'! Sam's Cafe' serves coffees and teas, and some snacks. Plus, has internet access for cafe' customers. Weekday mornings you can get a coffee and a donut for $1 !!!
***UPDATE: Sam the Record Man is closed, the building is being reconstructed as part of Ryerson University
What to pay: Music CDs $0.99-$39.99, VHS $1.99-$54.99, DVD $5.99-$79.99. ($CDN)
Sonic Boom is the largest independent record store in Canada. It has the largest selection of new and used CD's, DVD's, vinyl, video games, vhs and cassettes. It has a lot of new releases and rare finds. Also you might be surprised to show up one day and find one of your favourite bands playing a free all-ages show in their awesome basement, and they're open 10am-Midnight 364 days a year. Also check out their amazing window displays.
What to buy: CD's, DVD's, vinyl records, cassettes tapes, vhs tapes, videogames, 8 tracks and 45's.
What to pay: you're looking to spend anywhere from $4.95-$10.95 on used Cd's.
Small shop on the edge of China Town. Great selection of second hand records, even off the main stream. Helpful owners.
I revisited this shop in 2007, it seems that the owner increases the Jazz & Classical collection.
No 45-ers, but still some great goodies in the back at the lower shelf.
The shop has some odd business hours:
We-Th: 11.30AM - 6.30PM
Fr: 11.30AM - 7PM
Sa: 11.30AM -6PM
What to buy: Some hard to find and exotic stuff (Spoken word, Comedy & Sound Effects)
What to pay: Up to CAD 10 per record.
I've taken many out-of-town visitors to Yonge & Dundas to peruse the giant HMV, Sam the Record Man and Sunrise record shops, and every single person has walked away with at least one purchase!
Three flagship stores are located within steps of each other and offer the best deals that I've seen - anywhere! - for CDs and DVDs.
When I'm shopping, here are some things that I do to make sure I'm getting the best deal:
1. Stick to the main stores at Yonge & Dundas. You'll see HMV all over the city in just about every mall, but the prices can often be more expensive at those locations. Also, their selection is going to be limited.
2. Check all three stores before buying anything. They are literally right next door to each other so it's always worth the trip to all three stores just to price things out. I have found price differences as much as $10-$15 for some items.
What to buy: I have yet to find better prices for new CDs and DVDs anywhere else in the world. These flagship stores often have better prices than their online competition too!
If you're looking for cds, dvds. etc, there are lots of places but the only one I went to was the HMV on Queen street in downtown Toronto. The time I was there, Ryan Star from Rockstar Supernova was preparing to do a small acoustic set/concert in the store so my cousin and I got our pictures taken with him.
What to buy: The cds available range from big-name to barely-known bands/singers that you might not find anywhere else.
What to pay: Usually $15-$20 for a CD, more for a DVD.
This is the most famous music store in Toronto and it has a good selection of music.
I have read a lot about this place and about how it was THE place for many, many years. It is still quite nice and you can see it is old and there is a lot of history in it (look at memorabilia/pictures on the walls).
However, I was not very impressed by the service, I had to chase people to get help and even then it was not very enthusiastic. I was also disappointed as I did not find most things I was looking for (for instance Feist, who is a Canadian singer).
I find service in HMV and Sunrise records to be better, but this place does have its charms and is a very famous landmark. Just take a look at the illuminated records on the outside at night.
There is also a small cafe inside which provides free wireless Internet access.
What to buy: All kind of CD's, DVD's, video games and some Vinyl.
Sam the Record Man is THE place to go shopping for music in Toronto. It's a huge building containing some of the best music in the world. Not only will you find CD's here, you can also buy DVD's, Video's and more. It's also nice to watch an in-store performance, which they regularly do. And the staff is very helpful.
What to pay: Prices at Sam's are the same as you would pay anywhere.
Second Vinyl is a small (Korean owned?) shop loaded with half classical and half Jazz/Popular records.
Penguin next door is a regular CD shop.
What to buy: It was hard for me to find any special album.