Miscellaneous Rumbles

The Last National Record Store Chain in Canada Closes


I found this out about a week ago, HMV Canada is in receivership and will close all its stores on April 30.

This is about twenty years after the other national chains disappeared, A&A, Discus, Sam the Record Man, and fifteen years after the short-lived expansion of A&B Sound and the more recently expanded and collapsed CD Plus.

Best Buy and London Drugs seem to be out of that business as well.

I have a CD I bought before Christmas I need to exchange, but all future sales are final. And your gift cards are no good.


I know that in todays day and age the Web is The place to download music, but where do you go to buy actual CD's and Vinyl nowadays.

Seems like Our choices to obtain music, and just about anything else,are getting very limited. Sad to see actual Record stores going away.


Unfortunately a sign of the times. Progress - the internet for the most part - hasn't helped this avenue of the recording/sales business. When I was in High School, Saturday night trips into Toronto always included a stop at Sam the Record Man. I can still see him standing and smoking an expensive cigar along side the cash registers, which had a steady line all night. And the store stayed open late too. Down through the years, there wasn't a top artist that played in Toronto that didn't pay Sam a visit at the store. You could spend hours looking at the wooden support pillars in the store, reading the autographs! What a collection! And there were also autographed pics as well. That place was a real institution, a Toronto and Canadian icon that's sadly gone.


We still have two record shops, with real vinyl as well as CDs, in town. Their inventories are getting smaller all of the time. I think you can still get CDs at Wally World, tho that's limited as well. Oddly, I know a few guys that collect 78s.

Real stereo/ hi-fi systems and the stores that sold them disappeared about the same time that records did. Mono 3" Bluetooth speakers are not stereos or hi-fi. You can't really share music with a pair of earphones---or annoy the neighbor's and have the cops show up at your door.


Back in the late 1980s and through most of the 90s we had a musician-run jazz label called Unity Records. If someone put out a new recording, Sam's and HMV would both stock it. With Sam's we could take a bunch of recordings down and they would distribute to their other stores across the country. I think we used a distributor for HMV, but whenever we had a gig in town at one of the clubs (also gone) both HMV and Sam's would front rack the CDs; it wasn't necessary to buy wall space in order to get front racked. Retail was very much part of the local scene, and an important component, along with community radio, the club owners, the print media and the artists; everyone was in it together. That was more or less how it was in most of North America since the early days of the recording industry. HMV's closing is sad, but in no way surprising. Grateful for the opportunity to have caught the tail end of an era; sad that it is gone.


I still buy CD's - I order them from Amazon. I guess I'm enough of a luddite that I still prefer a physical copy, not just a digital copy in "the cloud". This even though most of my listening is done at the computer (with upgraded hardware) or on my iPod in the car.


I still buy CDs too, often from Amazon but also from the local CD/vinyl store. We're lucky enough to have a small store called Urban Records in Leederville and they sell turntables and stereos as well. I really dislike downloading music. I like to have a thing in my hands with music on it!

I have a small desktop stereo which plays CDs on my desk with speakers either side of my computer and listen to music often while working. I still have a turntable and stereo set up in my office too but that rarely gets used. We also have a stereo in our lounge room - no turntable but a 5-CD player which is great for when I'm cooking dinner. I like to have some loud music on while cooking on a Friday or Saturday night with a beer handy. Our kitchen opens out to the lounge so it's all kinda one room.

The stereo doesn't get used as much as it used to these days, but that's probably as much to do with changing lifestyle as the state of the music industry. To think that the first thing I bought with my first pay was a turntable... It took some saving but i still have it and it still works.


Buying CDs at Amazon obviously is part of the problem. Sure, it's convenient. But it just kills smaller businesses, be it actual shops or online. I totally understand it if you are living in a quite lowly-populated place or several other possible circumstances make it difficult to shop locally. But if you live anywhere near a store support it! I even rather buy vinyl and CDs in a megastore than on Amazon but I generally don't trust people who sell washing machines.


I also prefer having a CD in hand and rarely have I ever downloaded music. I don't like the idea of it. So, I have always sought out places to buy CDs. But, those places are now no longer selling CDs, so I have no alternative but to buy them from Amazon. I bought CDs yesterday at a used CD shop, but you can't buy new recordings there.


CD's were the beginning of the end for me....I used to love going to ALL the local record shops, both new and used, and in my early 20's it was not unusual for me to buy 10 LP's a week (mixture of new and used).

Caper's Corner in Mission, KS was known as "the Greatest Record Store in the free World" and every Tuesday, I went in to see all of the "new releases" hanging in bins on the wall. It was owned by a guy named Ben Asner (the brother of actor Ed Asner). Ben was a cranky curmudgeon who would grumble at you when you walked in and pretty much act like you should not be in the store...but I'd like to think that underneath, he was a pretty nice guy.

I liked CD's when they came out...but to me, something was lost. All of a sudden the LP Art aspect was gone. No more gatefold sleeves with incredible artwork...no more unique artwork like the die-cut cover of A Wizard A True Star (Todd R.) or E. Pluribus Funk (Grand Funk Railroad) looking like a big "coin"....or The Stones Sticky Fingers LP with the zipper on the front.....and, no more funny Writing In The Space of the Run Out Groove.

The CD left us with the "hidden track"....but if other fun stuff was there, the text had gotten so small that I, for one, could barely even read it with my aging eyes....lol.

So, now, I rarely buy either CD's or Vinyl. I went "digital" several years ago when I decided to "rip" all the CD's I owned into digital format. Eventually, I sold all of my 3,000-ish count vinyl collection...and found out that the re-sellers didn't even want to LOOK at my 1500 CD's they were so "valueless".

I lament that record stores have gone the way of the dinosaur...they were such a huge part of my youth and no doubt, for better or worse vastly shaped who I "am" today.....but, as Bob D. once said..."They times, they are a-changin'".


As weird as it seems and against all business logic, a new Dimple Records store just opened near me in Roseville, CA. Tower Records shut down a few years ago, but Dimple seems to be hanging on. A small Sacramento chain with 6 stores. Haven't been in yet, but hope it's cool.

There's still a great new/used CD store in Reno. Short drive from Truckee.


The loss of major music retailers is sort of depressing on some levels, for sure, but the up-side of the situation is that - depending on where you live - smaller, independent record shops are thriving.

There's a "large niche" market out there for new and used vinyl nowadays, and while it's definitely not big enough to sustain large chains like HMV, it's apparently plenty to keep speciality shops going, where owners and staff have a true passion for what they sell.


There's still a great new/used CD store in Reno. Short drive from Truckee. -- Powdog

Yep. That is where I was Saturday afternoon.


Speaking of defunct business chains, the last (as far as I know) Swensens Ice Cream Parlor is in the same block as that CD store in Reno. Was a big SF based chain in the 70-80's. So for those who remember, you can still get your Black Bart or Twin Towers fix on.


Hmmm...I don't think that business is operating any longer, Powdog. And, I didn't even know it was there despite having lived here for over three decades! I would have been down there chowing down the ice cream like nobody's business had I have known that it was there.


I just Yelped it and you're right, shut down in 2014. Bummer! Still have one kid at UNR but I guess we haven't been over in that part of town in a while.

In addition to his last year of UNR, he's in a band (drums) that's playing a few gigs next month. Guess we won't be having Swensens.


If I go to a record store, I have to drive to town (burn fuel), find a parking spot (put money in the meter), sift through the shelves only to find out that the album I want is not in stock. They'll have to order it for me and I have to go back to the store a week later, again burning fuel and filling meters. And then they'll make you pay full RRP for it.

Or I can go to Amazon or Bol on-line, order it and it'll be in next day for 10's of percents less.

Same goes for appliance stores. Since they stopped caring about customer service while maintaining their price policy, I'm buying on-line.


On line shopping has changed the retail trade. Big chains are disappearing ---Montgomery Wards is long gone, Sears has sold off Craftsman and is sure to be gone in a year or two, and Penney's is worried. Lots of chains are closing down stores. Wally World has hurt K Mart/Sears just like K Mart killed off many small department stores. I stopped going to Radio Shack years ago when they stopped carrying electronic parts and turned into a celphone business. As Dylan said, "The times, they are a-changin'".

I still play CDs. I want something physical I can hold in my hand. I'm a Luddite, for sure---still have tube guitar amps and a big, high powered stereo system. Having heard horror stories of a ruined IPods and people losing thousands of dollars in downloads due to a single glitch, I'll stay with CDs. Downloaded all of their music and sold off their CDs, then lose their device. I learned long ago to back up all media. The Cloud? I don't trust something so ambiguous. One EMP and it's all gone. Same with photos. I don't want to trust those memories to a memory card.

I still can drive a manual shift. If most cars still had a clutch, people wouldn't have time to text and drive. It takes two hands to drive a stick.


I still mostly buy CDs. I bought two Christmas presents at HMV, and two for myself to fill out the promotion.

I'm going to try to do an exchange and make one last purchase this week.

I always checked my local HMV's inventory before buying online, unless I was already buying something else from Amazon. Most of the local stores don't have an online inventory.


I too want something physical. I'm also interested in high resolution lossless audio [hi-res].

I've been waiting for PONO to get back online, they say they are going to be using 7digital, which I haven't bought anything from, yet.

I bought a few BluRay Audio discs, but they don't make it easy to get tracks from those. A couple of the discs had a download code, and one of them had hi-res tracks on the download.

I've mentioned this a few times, one of my favourite musicians, Kristin Hersh, is creating a DVD-case sized book with most of her releases. I now have three of these. http://www.kristinhersh.com

Also my sister bought me a similar one from Beck, and I have companion books with a rare Black Francis release and a giant art book from a Pixies box set.

I think this is the way to go, but what is the correct book format?

A large coffee table book with fine printing of all the artwork of the Beatles catalogue, and maybe some bonus material, that included download codes for hi-res, that would be worthy.

I've noticed many vinyl releases include a download code, but I doubt you get hi-res often with those, not that you couldn't.

I know there are a series of 33 1/3 books. Including a hi-res code would be a selling point. https://333sound.com/33-13-...

Mosaic Records does an ok job with many of their album-sized sets. I have a few of these, they have some excellent photography. http://www.mosaicrecords.com


I miss Tower Records... man you could find the most random stuff there! I remember in the mid to late '90's right after I got married roaming through the aisles with my wife after dinner on a Friday night. Barely had two nickels to rub together, so a CD purchase was a big deal.

There is a documentary on HBO right now about the rise and fall of Tower Records.

Rainbow Records in Milpitas, CA and then Wherehouse Records as well.

Then the bookstore's sold them: Borders, but they died and also Barnes & Noble. Problem is that B&N has an entire music section roughly 30 feet long for all genres and almost the same size for vinyl. Not even gonna touch that subject.


This is in the good news feed today:

"Sunrise Records is placing a major bet on Canadian music sales with plans to move into 70 retail spaces being vacated by HMV Canada."

What's that store like?

I went to HMV today, the CDs had been raided, almost nothing left.


Gotta admit, this is news to me. Never heard of Sunrise Records... Ontario-based, I guess?


They seem to be in Ottawa and some places outside of Toronto.

BARRIE: Georgian Mall BARRIE: Bayfield Mall BRANTFORD: Lynden Park Mall BURLINGTON: Burlington Mall ETOBICOKE: Cloverdale Mall LONDON: White Oaks Mall NORTH BAY: Northgate Mall OTTAWA: Carlingwood Mall TIMMINS: Timmins Square

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