‘Time to let it go’: Canada’s last Sam the Record Man store is up for sale

The music may be coming to and end for Canada’s last remaining Sam the Record Man location.

After 45 years in the business, the owners of Belleville, Ont.’s, Sam the Record Man store has announced they’re ready to retire.

But it’s too soon to say exactly what that will mean for the iconic record store.

“Everything’s still up in the air,” explained Spencer Destun, who owns the Quinte Mall shop as well as independent music stores in Kingston and Oshawa along with his wife and son.

“We’ve been at this business for a long time and it’s time to retire — it’s time to let it go.

“So we’re having a retirement sale and we’re looking at all other options to keep the stores open.”

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Spencer Destun owns Belleville’s Sam the Record Man store along with his wife and son.

Global News/Fawwaz Muhammad-Yusuf

Destun and his wife have run the Belleville Sam the Record Man store since it opened in 1979 and their son joined the team in 2000.

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Started in the 1930s by Sam Sniderman in Toronto, the Sam the Record Man chain was once the largest music recording retailer in the country, with 140 locations across Canada.

But the Belleville store became last one standing as others began closing after the company filed for bankruptcy in the early 2000s.

Destun says business is going well, and between the family’s three shops, they’ve acquired a lot of inventory over the years.

To reduce the load — and hopefully make the stores more appealing to a buyer — Destun sent shockwaves through the community when he recently announced his retirement sale, causing many to speculate it meant the end of Sam’s last store.

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‘It’s never changed’

The news brought long-time customers like Jim O’Leary out to the store Tuesday.

“I was devastated, but not surprised. Things don’t last and they’ve been here 45 years,” he said of the news, adding it’s the store’s atmosphere that has kept him coming back for decades.

“It’s never changed, it’s always just great vinyl, great CDs, music going all the time and friendly people that work here.”

Carol Morris has also been shopping at the record store for years, and she says she liked the shop so much she got a job there.

In the nearly two years Morris has worked behind the counter, she says she’s met countless customers who have driven hours to get to the store, just because it’s Canada’s last Sam the Record Man location.

Belleville Sam the Record Man employee Carol Morris has also been shopping at the store for years.

Global News/Fawwaz Muhammad-Yusuf

“It’s like an icon of Canada for people,” she said, adding she’ll be sad to see it close if a buyer isn’t found.

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She’s hopeful other customers are able to come in and have a nostalgic experience before anything changes.

“No matter what age, no matter what music people like, the music brings people together,” she said.

Destun credits good service, selection, and fair prices when asked how his family has kept Belleville’s Sam the Record Man store open.

With such a loyal customer base, Destun is hopeful this isn’t the end of Sam.

“What the future holds, who knows? But right now we’re working diligently to try to pass these stores on and keep them in the community,” he said.

“The stores are very successful. There’s no reason for them to close.”


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