HMV Canada Closing

My kids have no appreciation for record stores. They strictly consume music via digital channels and have never purchased a compact disc.

When I was a teenager, record stores were vital. My weekends would revolve around trips downtown and I would visit Sam the Record Man, A&A and HMV at 333 Yonge Street, not necessarily in that order. The store with the lowest price for the disc I was buying would get my business.


I have many good memories of visiting HMV at 333 Yonge, sampling albums at the listening stations and digging through new hip-hop in the basement. I remember the thrill of being checked out by the actress who played Kathleen on Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High and the joy of bumping into Kish while he shopped for 12 inch singles.

Although I never worked at HMV I used to play for a slo-pitch team formed by HMV colleagues. These guys and gals would assemble monstrous CD collections and I'd borrow them by the dozens and rip them to MP3. This transfer to digital was the beginning of the end.

Yesterday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice approved an application to place HMV Canada into receivership. All 102 locations have to shut down by April 30.

It's the end of an era. Digital killed the record store.

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Comments (37 - click here to join in!)

Blind Dave

That sucks. I am in my 50's and remember hitting Sam, A&A, and later HMV, along with all the used record stores between Bloor & King. I'd start at Bloor and just walk. I'd also venture along Queen and one other street to hit a couple more used places. It was a wonderful and frequent way to spend an afternoon.

Some of the owners in the used places would even recognize me, as I was quite the regular!

January 28, 2017 @ 12:46 PM

twins from bolton

Too bad, so sad. Sam the Record Man, A&A Records (beside Sams on Yonge st.), Music World, Sunrise Records, Music Shoppe, Record Depot, all gone due to digital format.
I want to be able to hold an item in my hand while listening.
Aging myself but that's OK.
This is the same as Blockbuster & Jumbo Video closing.

January 28, 2017 @ 12:50 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Quick story...

One day, I was checking out CDs by the cashier at Sam the Record Man on Yonge by Dundas. Lo and behold, Joe Carter came in, picked up a disc, and quickly checked out. I just stood there and watched as Joe (with his World Series ring on) walked by me.

I can't remember if this was before or after he touched 'em all in '93, but it was definitely after he earned the '92 ring. Joe friggin' Carter.

January 28, 2017 @ 12:52 PM

The Voice of Reason

The quality of entertainment will suffer in the long run. I don't look forward to the inevitable closure of Cineplex Theatres post that Mike will be posting within 10 years.
Progression or Regression..... you must decide for yourselves.

January 28, 2017 @ 12:54 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@The Voice of Reason

10 years is a long time, and my crystal ball doesn't go that far, but right now the Cineplex closest to me seems to be doing well. I mean, the prices are insane, and the concessions uber expensive, but they're filling the seats!

Heck, Star Wars movies along could keep them going for 10 years....

January 28, 2017 @ 12:56 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@twins from bolton

Once a month I take my oldest daughter to her orthodontist and kill the 45 minutes by perusing Sunrise Records. So there are a few locations left!

January 28, 2017 @ 12:57 PM



I think movie theaters are in a bit of a different position. They're considered "going out"...And packed every weekend. They seem to have evolved and thrived.

Studios want butts in seats as they make a ton more money than from purchased online.

January 28, 2017 @ 1:00 PM

The Voice of Reason

@Mike and Cambo

I hope you are right but with revenues dropping year to year overall and fewer people from 25 to 44 going to the cinemas weekly, investing in that stock is not a promising venture.

January 28, 2017 @ 1:16 PM

Sam's & A&A's

Watch the intro of the old CBC show "Street Legal". Right at the end of the intro, you'll see a nice shot of Sam's and A&A's. Fondly remembered.

January 28, 2017 @ 1:29 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Here's the shot from the Street Legal opening.

January 28, 2017 @ 1:32 PM

The Voice of Reason

Does anyone recall the arcades on Yonge?

January 28, 2017 @ 1:39 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@The Voice of Reason

Of course! I spent many hours and many quarters at the Yonge Street arcades.

January 28, 2017 @ 1:45 PM

The Voice of Reason

You and I both Mike.

January 28, 2017 @ 2:18 PM


Shitty but not surprising. Its been trending this way for awhile.

I like having a physical copy of an album. Its not the same just getting it off Itunes convienent as it is.

January 28, 2017 @ 2:31 PM


I was on that slo-pitch team and worked at HMV. One of the best places to work (Sherway location). My only claim to fame there was helping Tomas Kaberle find a Kid Rock CD the day after he scored the game winning goal against the New Jersey Devils in the 2000 playoffs. I am going to miss all HMVs.

January 28, 2017 @ 4:30 PM


So sad. I too have fond memories of going to Yonge for an afteroon at Sam's, A&A, Sunrise, etc.
This truly leaves Sam The Record Man in Belleville as the last man standing. Sad....

January 28, 2017 @ 7:32 PM

Not Sam

Sunrise Records still has some mall stores and indies all around the country. Quite a few in downtown Toronto: Sonic Boom, Kops, Soundscapes, Rotate This, Play De Record.

January 28, 2017 @ 8:08 PM


If you watch the old (Late Great Movies on City TV) Canadian classic (1971?) Goin' Down The Road, there's a fantastic Sam The Record Man scene inside and outside the store.

HMV was the new kid on the block, took over from Tower, joined Sam's, Sunrise, A&A, Music World, Cheapies, Vinyl Museum, Records On Wheels, The Record Peddler (moved from east of Yonge on Queen or Church to across from MLG, and then to Q west), CD Bar, Kops, Penguin... That was as much as I could cover in one day in the big city.

January 28, 2017 @ 8:56 PM


Making my last happy/sad trip to HMV on yonge street soon. I love buying physical media. The kind you can hold in your hand and look at all the art on the cd covers! I have been shopping at HMV in different places for more years than I want to admit to here, lol! I miss all the old Canadian music stores like, HMV, Sam the Record Man, Discus (anybody remember them?), Sunrise records, A&B Sound (British Columbia). Music and Movie shopping will never be the same again : - (

January 29, 2017 @ 11:01 AM

Ryan G

I used to love those arcades. They were very nasty, but a fun escape. I remember one of the dudes who gave out change reminded me of Jabba The Hutt. He was..well..quite portly ...and he sat up in this high desk/chair thing so he could also keep an eye on things I suppose. Wouldn't really say a word too - you'd just slide him a bill, he'd punch some contraption and quarters would rain down this little slide thingy into a bowl.

One of my favourite games was one of the earliest "VR" type games I suppose. I think it was called Beachhead 2000, and you'd have to missile and machine gun incoming boats and enemy soldiers on a beach. It taught me that war is so much fun!

January 29, 2017 @ 11:07 AM


There are so many factors in play here. The biggest one being that more people now don't care so much about owning something physical or of superior quality. Convenience and "good enough" (no matter how crappy the video or audio is for that) rules. That applies to much more than audio and video, too, if you think about it. I've bought many, many CDs, DVDs, etc. online from all over the world, but since moving to Ajax, I've also done the same at the HMV stores in Pickering Town Centre and the 'shwa Centre.

In the late 70s, I had a rather large Toronto Star newspaper route and took home over $100/week. After delivering the thick pack that was the Saturday Star, I (too) often headed downtown with a good friend or two. We'd start at either Bloor or Queen and work our way down/up Yonge Street, checking out the record and electronics stores, grabbing pizza, panzerotti or subs for lunch, and hitting the usual arcades to play pinball. The 25ยข coins ("quarter" is an American term, as you learn in a rather firm way when you visit the Canadian Mint) that I accumulated collecting for the newspaper too often went down the coin slot of a machine at Funland and others. Fortunately, I managed to save plenty, too, which came in handy in not being able to enjoy more, erm, "activities" and events at university, along with buying many of my LPs again on CD when they were released in the new format. By the end of university years, I managed to accumulate hundreds of vinyl albums and CDs, nearly all of which I still have.

My favourite memory of those days was once trying to find a non-current release album at Sam the Record Man's flagship store. I couldn't find it on the main floor, looking in the obvious spots. A man walked up to me and asked if he could help me find what I was looking for. We revisited a couple places that I had looked, and then the light bulb went off, "I think I know where it is. It's upstairs," he said. He double-checked that utterly huge reference listing "book" in the centre of the store and up to the second floor we went. A few minutes later, he pulls it out of the rack, huge smile on his face, "Here you go." As he hands the album to me, I must have been surprised at the price. He looked at the handful of albums I had in my hand, back at me, reached into his pant pocket, grabbed his marker and knocked a few dollars off. "You can do that!? Thanks!" He smiled. "It's MY store, son. Are you done shopping? Yes? Let's get you checked out, then." Back downstairs, where it is really busy at the main cash registers by Yonge Street. Into the classical music area, he walks behind a register, I hand him my albums and rings everything up. "Thank you very much, Mr. Sniderman." "You're welcome. By the way, see this? (reaching into his shirt pocket to pull out a button, which read), I'm SAM (in the typeface and colour that we all know). Thank you for shopping with me at my store." I would still check prices between the stores, but that day made me more loyal to one. The day that I met Sam the Record Man.

January 29, 2017 @ 11:14 AM


I forgot to mention Music World! Another sad day when they passed away!! Rip!

January 29, 2017 @ 11:41 AM

Ryan G

I haven't bought a cd in years, and I probably never will again.

And HMV's closing is somewhat coincidental timing for me personally in that a week or so ago I finally decided to begin digitizing all my cd's. I've attempted before but got distracted, and it's one of those boring labour-intensive tasks that you do once. (The trick, according to longtime Toronto DJ Lazarus, is to make it a priority to rip 10 cd's a day). I have hundreds and hundreds of cd's and thousands of songs on those cd's, and digitizing them has been long overdue. The main catalyst for me is dj'ng, as I still play at bars here and there mostly as a hobby. Going digital means I save time when at a gig as i'm not leafing through endless sleeves of cd's (in an often dark club), pulling out the disc, throwing it in my deck, finding the track, cueing it up,etc. Having said that, I am resisting a little bit, in that i'm not planning on dj'ng just from a laptop. I still like the tactile experience which makes it a bit more creative too, so I'll use a laptop with dj software connected to the mixdeck controller. The software gives me all the info I need on the thousands of songs on my hard drive, including bpm which is essential for beatmixing. So overall, going digital makes things more efficient while I still have fun doing it.

January 29, 2017 @ 12:16 PM


So YOU'RE the other guy that owns the Kish album TorontoMike !

I thought I was the only unicorn around. I rhyme the world in 80 days was my jam back in the day :)

January 30, 2017 @ 10:13 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I love Order from Chaos!

January 30, 2017 @ 10:25 AM


I spent a lot of Money at HMV
most of the money I made as a kid was spent there LOL
I have a lot of CD's that now sit in a box...all were trasfered digitally.
I own a few Vinyl Records, have to get myself a player though..they are making a come back :)

January 30, 2017 @ 3:35 PM

The Voice of Reason

Ryan, do you recall "Dragons Lair". It was so advanced for the time frame.

January 30, 2017 @ 6:55 PM


I remember when they built HMV but I forget what was there before.It was always more fun (for me) to browse at Sam's.

January 30, 2017 @ 9:15 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


333 Yonge Street was home to Le Coq D'Or Tavern.

January 30, 2017 @ 9:26 PM


@Toronto Mike Thanks, that inspired a bit of research on my part ...That picture you posted of Young & Gould reminded me of Joseph Smolij the chess hustler. Thanks for the memories!

January 31, 2017 @ 5:10 PM

Aurora bob

"Although I never worked at HMV I used to play for a slo-pitch team formed by HMV colleagues. These guys and gals would assemble monstrous CD collections and I'd borrow them by the dozens and rip them to MP3. This transfer to digital was the beginning of the end"

I wonder if this was a contribution to HMVS demise?

I remember when HMV came to Canada. They actually bought (or assumed leases) the real estate of Music World. I was with a software consultant company that came in to help them with the transition. The first retail outlet as HMV was at Square One with a huge party. The invites came out on CD and cases.

Sorry to see them go. It was a good run of 25 years or so.

Trivia question. What does HMV stand for?

February 1, 2017 @ 10:13 AM

Ryan G

@Voice of Reason

Oh yes i remember Dragon's Lair. I didn't play it that much because a) i think it was one of those 75 cent games..and b) i sucked at it was hard as i recall - you had to make your choices quickly and i'd always choose wrong and die..ending my game fast....gotta stretch those arcade quarters as much as possible!

February 1, 2017 @ 10:24 AM


As a Buffaloian, I spent many a holiday season making a pit stop at the HMV on Yonge getting not only CD's as holiday gifts, but also DVD box sets. (I also spent quite some time at the World's Biggest Bookstore right across from the store, getting books for not only myself but also for others.) So, yeah, this stinks beyond reason.

February 5, 2017 @ 11:42 AM

Jody Thornton

I wish Sunrise good luck, but to me, it's similar to the strategy that AM 640 used in 1993 when 680 CFTR ditched CHR. AM 640 grabbed a lot of 'TR's talent lineup to get all of the remaining listeners. But CHR was on a downward spiral anyway, and it was only so long that AM 640 could go on with music itself. So how long can Sunrise profitably operate record stores?

February 28, 2017 @ 12:36 PM

j. b.

Sherway Gardens store opening

Sunrise Records is all set to open the store in place of the closed HMV Sherway location. Opening day is Monday April 24th (2017) and they'll have vinyl records.

April 23, 2017 @ 10:55 PM

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