In 1969 a national Sam the Record Man franchise chain was established, with a wholly owned subsidiary, Roblan Distributors Ltd (Sniderman president, his sons Robert and Jason in succession vice-president, and Sidney Sniderman secretary-treasurer), set up as its supplier. At its peak in the 1980s and 1990s, approximately 137 'Sam's' stores were in operation under the direction of Jason Sniderman, accounting for an estimated 15 to 20 per cent of the national retail record business. The number of stores in the chain dwindled by the late 1990s. Sam Sniderman retired in 2000; the business went bankrupt the following year and most of its stores closed. The Yonge Street store was reopened in 2002, but closed permanently 30 Jun 2007.
Support for Canadian Recordings
A colourful personality, Sniderman gave substantial support to the Canadian music industry by his enthusiasm and by the exposure his stores provided for records by Canadians. With Eleanor Koldofsky, he made possible the recordings archive at the Faculty of Music Library, University of Toronto, in 1963, donating many recordings and arranging for the donation or acquisition of many others. (By 2003, the archive held 175,000 items, and in 2005 Sam made a further $50,000 donation to the Sniderman Music Archives to honour his son Stephen who had died in 1959.) In 1977 he became a member of the CNE Grandstand attractions committee, and in the late 1980s spearheaded efforts to restore the CNE's Music Building. He was a member or director of CARAS, the Federal Cultural Policy Review Committee, the Mariposa Advisory committee, the East Coast Music Association, and many other arts organizations. Sniderman was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1976 and received many other awards and tributes for his contribution to Canadian music, including the 1989 (Juno) Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award. He was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Association Hall of Fame in 1997, and was honoured with the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for voluntarism in 1999, and an industry builder award from the East Coast Music Association in 2001. A recording of Canadian music, "A Tribute to Sam Sniderman" (1988), celebrated his 50th year in business. Sniderman was also featured on CBC TV's Life and Times.
See also Toronto Feature: Yonge and Edward St.
Bidini, Dave. The Best Game You Can Name (2006); Filey, Mike. Toronto Sketches 10: "The Way We Were" (2010); Cohn, Ronald and Jesse Russell. Sam The Record Man (2012); Calamar, Gary and Phil Gallo and Peter Buck. Record Store Days: From Vinyl to Digital and Back Again (2012); Sutherland, Sam. Perfect Youth -The Birth of Canadian Punk (2012)
Author Revised: Susan Spier
Links to Other Sites
Sam Sniderman, founder of legendary Toronto music store, dies at 92
A CBC News obituary for Sam 'The Record Man' Sniderman, Canada's preeminent music merchant and supporter of Canadian music.
Canada Has Lost An Icon: Sam 'The Record Man' Sniderman Has Died
A tribute to Sam 'The Record Man' Sniderman from CBC's "Strombo" show. Features many colourful photos of his famous Toronto store.
Sam The Record Man thinks CanCon is swell
Listen to a brief 1971 CBC Radio clip in which record retailer Sam Sniderman emphatically supports Canadian content requirements for Canadian radio stations.
Sam The Record Man Sign Comes Down On Yonge St.
A 2008 news story about the removal of the iconic Sam The Record Man sign from Yonge Street in Toronto. From citytv.com.
Sam “The Record Man” Opens
An illustrated feature about Sam Sniderman's legendary record store in Toronto. From "Toronto in Time."
Bowmanville’s connection to Sam “the Record Man” Sniderman
A blog post about Sam “the Record Man” Sam Sniderman, his former wife Eleanor Koldofsky, her brother Adolph, and Adolph's wife, Gwendolyn Williams Koldofsky. From the Clarington Museums & Archives Blog.
If I Had a Million Donuts
This article reveals the surprising impetus for Toronto's Sam the Record Man business and chronicles the life of its colourful and hard-working owner, Sam Sniderman. From musiccanada.com.