1. KEEP IT UP! its a city heritige site. I can’t begin to thing how devistated Yonge St. would be without it.

  2. Heritage site!

    Oh wait, that doesn’t really work …

  3. I think they should keep it up, too, but it seems like billboards take up that portion of the buildings along the strip. I bet whoever moves in there next won’t want to forgo the ad revenue. So sad. Those spinning records are one of the things I remember most about visiting Toronto when I was a kid.

  4. There is something quite wrong with our “Canadian” identity.

    We no longer support our Canadian businesses, our own industries and Canadians continue to buy and sell out to our American retailers.

    Sam’s is not just a building with some “neat unique” facade on Yonge Street. It is a Canadian entertaiment and retail institution that has been driven out by American interests.

    Think about it.

    All of the record/cd/video suppliers are American.

    The largest retailer in Canada is the American outfit Walmart.

    Walmart gets deals from the US recording industry
    and then undersells Canadian retailers.

    Sam’s can’t get the same deals or price, because they are Canadian.

    Maybe the Canadian indentity as we think we know it no longer exists and the loss of SAMS is just the final tell all.

    Lets not keep any signs of SAMS around…… lets just put up another Walmart or other USA sign.

    You don’t care…

  5. If the signage can’t stay in its current spot, perhaps add it onto the outside of one of the buildings at Dundas Square (i.e. Metropolis)?

  6. Hmmm…interesting how if a sign like this went up now, the folks who run this website, and many others (likely including myself), would decry it as ugly advertising run amok, taking over our public spaces. Yet this sign is treated as a piece of our urban fabric.

    Just to be clear, I’m with you on pretty much all of the advocacy you and IllegalSigns.ca do to rid our public sphere of the blight of overlarge and improper advertising. I’m just saying you want to make sure you don’t damage the case by being inconsistent. At the very least, this raises a key question in this debate: when does advertising become heritage? For example, the truly dreadful advertising structures around Yonge/Dundas square, some of which are visible from quite far away. At some point, do those become indisposable pieces of our urban fabric?

  7. I could put them on the side of my parent’s barn.

  8. Convert the huge building into a strip club and just make a few alterations to the sign.

    Seriously though, did anyone not see this coming? Who buys CDs anymore? Everything is going digital. Record sales are down like 35% this year alone. Record stores are all doomed unless they adapt somehow. Places like HMV are carrying more and more videogames, TV shows and movies, but how long will it be before those become popular downloads on itunes?

    A crazy thought, what if record stores were to embrace the digital music trend? Not everyone has a credit card, especially teenagers who buy most of the music. Places like Sams could start an online store, with a storefront counterpart. Walk into a store, take your ipod or other music player with you, head to a kiosk, hook up your ipod and download the album straight to your music player. Pay, then leave. Don’t have an ipod or other mp3 player? No problem, they’ll sell them!

    This not only gives people without credit cards access to music downloads (without having to go out and buy a card before they can download anything), but access to other music related goods at the same time, posters, dvds, music players, etc.

    And most importantly, sort things by album. When you do a search for a band, have entire albums come up instead of the songs. This is where the music industry is taking the biggest hit, not people changing over from CDs to mp3s, but people changing from albums to individual songs.

  9. The sign is one thing, and an important one. But of more importance are the interior walls of Sams, which are covered with signatures and messages going back decades, written by some of the greatest musicians of all time. What happens to these artifacts?

  10. Why not mount it on top of Honest Eds and use the site to communicate with alien life in outer space?

  11. It’s worth noting that this is (currently) a first-person sign, and is not the subject of illegalsigns.ca’s campaigns which go after third party signs.

  12. At one point, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame was going to have its home in Toronto Life Square (aka Metropolis), but that fell through. I wonder if they’d be interested in the Sam’s building?

  13. Ashwer said:

    “Hmmm…interesting how if a sign like this went up now, the folks who run this website, and many others (likely including myself), would decry it as ugly advertising run amok, taking over our public spaces. Yet this sign is treated as a piece of our urban fabric. ”

    Asher raises an important point. It is rather ironic that many posters here are crying out to save a garish advertising sign in the downtown.

    Granted it’s not a third party sign, but what about the terrible environmental effects of all the energy used by this thing? Where are the Public Space advocates who fought so passionately against street furniture that uses electricity for ads. Is this not a double standard?

  14. This is not the same as street furniture, Hinley. The energy issues can be fixed with LED and other conservation. Sam’s sign is a landmark sign that has appeared there for years and years. It is legal, it is local, it is permanent.

    I think people have to remember we’re not fighting to end *all* advertising. We want billboards to go thru public channels, meet regulations, etc. I think the city would be better off without them, or at least a good reduction in the current quantity. We are not a sledgehammer trying to destroy capitalist society. We are trying to keep the public in public space. Sam’s sign has enhanced the space around its store, on that corner, etc. And it went thru public channels to go up. I also think there should be room for flexibility on these type of issues.

    Asher re: the Dundas structure: I don’t think there is any kind of emotional attachement to that thing. Sam’s has a personal feel where people interacted with the store.

  15. Why do people brand those who want advertising in this city to be legal as anti-capitalists? I have nothing against advertisement as long as it is done in the proper context, and proper is not something that city hall and its ad buddies are doing in Toronto. Sam’s sign is not the same as the monolithic billboards we see across the world, it is unique to our city. I will see the same H&M billboards in Paris, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, but you will not see Sam’s store sign anywhere else in the world. Advertising can have a lot of artistic merit, unfortunately that is not the case with 99% of the ads out there, Sam’s sign is part of that 1% (in my humble opinion).

  16. Matt:

    You make a good point re: the Dundas structure. Also, the point about illegalsigns.ca going after third party advertising is well-taken. And believe me, what I said wasn’t meant as a criticism…as much as anything, it raised the philosophical question for me, which I was putting out there for people to consider.

    I think part of the question here is does our sentimentality towards the Sam’s sign exist because it was here before most of us, and so it’s part of what we’ve come to know as the Toronto landscape? If so, will the dundas square structure take on the same significance for future generations. From a heritage perspective, the Sam’s sign was certainly an archetype of it’s time, but the same might be said for the Pillar O’ Ads (maybe that’s what I’ll call it) in years to come.

    Perhaps a better comparison is the new electronic signage on the Yonge St. facade of The Bay at Queen and Yonge. Direct advertising, using the building facade, very bright. It rather irks me they have turned the building into one giant ad, but perhaps that’s their right, so it’s no fuss.

    Situations like this force us from time to time to consider the basis for our positions. I put the question out there because the answer isn’t immediately obvious to me, and sometimes it helps to hear other people’s perspective to keep you intellectually honest.

    I also think combining it with Honest Ed’s to serve as a beacon to aliens has some merit!

  17. The Sam’s and Honest Ed’s signs are very much of an era, survivors from a time before plastic took over outdoor signage. So there’s some historical value to them beyond their sentimental familiarity.

    But as first-party signs, they’re also important: they’re telling you about the place you and they are. And through their age, they’re telling you that the place you and they are has been as it is for some time.

    The Dundas Square structures, on the other hand, are like banner ad slots on a Web page. Campaigns will come and go, and their content tells you nothing but what you can already see on the side of any garbage can, bus shelter, or disposable daily newspaper. Half of the job of ads like these is to make you wish you were somewhere else, and in thirty years there will be nothing on the Dundas Square ad faces that tells you anything about today.

    To me, it seems pretty obvious that the Sam’s sign deserves to be preserved. We don’t dynamite our monuments when the people that they celebrate die, after all.

  18. awww… That sign is an icon to so many people. Whole generations are going to have a “Goin’ down the Road” experience with no Sam’s sign to look up at the first time they hit Yonge Street.

    We’ve got a sports museum off the Yonge Street strip… Toronto really needs a Canadian version of the Rock and Roll Hall of fame, and that’s exactly where it should go.

  19. the sam’s sign might be an appropriate acquisition for the new canadian music hall of fame, which is supposedly opening at yonge and dundas in june.

    not to sound creaky with age or anything, but perhaps some museums would be interested too? the sam’s sign is part of the history of toronto, canadian business, the music industry, design and advertising, not to mention the yonge street strip.

    maybe one of these fine institutions would have the space and money to keep those records spinning: http://www.ago.net/

  20. mkm: “the sam’s sign might be an appropriate acquisition for the new canadian music hall of fame, which is supposedly opening at yonge and dundas in june.”

    Actually, the plans for the Canadian Music Hall of Fame fell through and nothing else has been publicly announced.

    I hope that the building Sam’s currently occupies is snatched up by Ryerson, who desperately needs the space. President Levy had been in talks with the Snidermans last Fall (and probably even before that) about the building.

    Knowing Levy’s attitude towards the area and the way he’s handled negotiations in the past, something special will be done to commemorate the history of the spot, and who knows, they might include a few giant spinning discs.

  21. Sam’s sign doesn’t deserve to be preserved. Yeah it has sentimental value, and it will be strange at first without it there. But it’s just the facade of a store that did nothing to adapt to changing times and held on to a business model that’s been obsolete for 10 years. They charged ridiculously high prices for records and left the inside of their store dirty and run down. There are a lots of better projects our museums and galleries should spend their resources on.

  22. As far as advertising heritage goes (de facto if not de jure), there’s a pair of other music-scene icons in Toronto–the CHUM sign and the El Mocambo sign–not to mention the Paul Willison “Swing On Over” sign on Eglinton (though it lost something in its transerral away from Vic Park). Also remember the recent fusses over the Fairmonting of the Royal York sign and the removal of Redpath’s letters on behalf of Tate & Lyle (though the latter case might have been more “architectural” than “advertising”). And of course, as I’ve mentioned before, Citgo in Boston…

  23. Jason, I’m fairly confident that Ryerson will snap up that property, too. It wouldn’t surprise me much if Levy negotiated a deal that would keep all of or much of the facade in tact in exchange for a quick approvals process on a noteworthy building that would mark Ryerson’s presence on Yonge Street. Levy’s been salivating over the thought of Yonge Street being the gateway to the university since the day he stepped foot on campus.

  24. The major difference between Sam’s sign and the billboards is that Sam’s sign is a storefront for an independent retailer, the same as Honest Ed’s is, while billboards are for profit ads made by a large faceless corporation. Sam’s is a relic of the pre-corporate era and there’s a fair bit of nostalgia as well, I believe.

    Of course, don’t hold out too much hope, best go get those memories while you can. Perhaps there’ll be a fight over it (in the standard Toronto-city-council-token-gesture sort of way), but the sign will undoubtably still be attached to the building when it gets in the way of the excavation for Toronto’s newest Exclusive-High-Rise-Village.

  25. Everybody here is missing the point completely. This is Yonge Street, This is Sams. Its about our city’s history and the amazing landmarks we have, not about fucking ad space, or energy consumption. You’re focusing this criticism in the wrong place altogether. There would be no Yonge Stree without the Sam’s sign.

  26. Um, Jim >> most everyone here agrees with your point of view. Only one person really questioned whether there was a inconsistency in how Spacing apporaches signage. So relax and read most of the comments before cussing *everbody* out.

  27. Ryerson University has been looking at buying the building for years. I’m writing a letter to the president’s office to ask him to include the sign in the negotiations so it doesn’t end up in a landfill. Hopefully he’ll listen, as I’ve paid far too much tuition for him not to!

  28. The sign has got to go. Did we keep Eatons’ signs when they went under? Thousands of Toronto businesses that many would consider ‘landmarks’ have come and gone in the last couple hundred years. Life goes on. The city must evolve. Yonge street is still an eyesore and must be improved. It’s 2007, not 1987. Time for Yonge to grow up.

  29. Andrew: would you use that excuse to paint over a faded 30s advertising sign on the side of a building?

    Of course, “the city must evolve”–but “evolution” can involve the creative recognition of the so-called dead past as much as “moving onward and forward”…

  30. Isn’t the Eatons Centre still the Eatons Centre?

    Life must absolutely goes on but it goes on horribly if parts of the good past are not preserved and celebrated.

  31. Its wild to see such arrogance mixed with ignorance on this blog!

    Are you aware that “energy usage” for a sign is completely irrelevant? Why? Because the nuclear plants run 24/7, and at night, the energy just wastes, as they can’t turn the nukes off at night. So the energy for signs at night after peak hours is irrelevant. Might as well use it, instead of it just wasting.

    As far as Dundas Sq, they are actually doing a good job with it. Sure, its propaganda brainwashing to put these massive signs up, it affects people brains regarding products. That’s why they do it so big. You can’t fight City Hall.

    But the Sam’s Sign is very important to Toronto, its a piece of heritage. They should put it in Yonge-Dundas as a meeting point.
    But the Sniderman family would want royalties for that, which would kill the deal.

    Unless someone wants to pay Sam’s kids royalties for the Sam logo brand, the sign is toast. You think if Ryerson buys that land, that they don’t want massive Ryerson signs. By the way, Ryerson has the shittiest signs of any university on earth. They have one huge one made out of nylon on a building…classy.

  32. Max writes: “Its wild to see such arrogance mixed with ignorance on this blog!”

    That’s a funny thing since what you just wrote sounds both arrogant and ignorant.

    – City Hall has very little to do with Dundas Square. Its run by a management board.
    – Energy use is not irrelevant — unnecessary use of energy is not equted with nukes — its measured by coal fired plants.
    – You would not have to pay royalties to a family for keeping the sign. The new owners would buy it. Just like the Leaf’s (owers of the ACC) do not pay royalties for the keeping the facade of the old postal building.
    – You can fight City Hall. And if you do with some intelligence, facts, and good organization you can win. But why fight it when you should be working with City Hall. Enough with the Us vs. Them, a chronic Toronto problem.

  33. Sam’s was put out of business by the HMV next door.

  34. Re faded signage: anyone notice the “Hair Loom” upon a mansard on W side Yonge just N of Wellesley? Looks perhaps 70s-ish–a vestige of a hair salon long gone (thoughts of Warren Beatty + “Shampoo”, etc).

    Now, I don’t want to start a Facebook rally for it, exactly; but Andrew, if “growing up” and “improving” the “eyesore” that is Yonge means turning an absolute blind eye to stuff like that being worthy of *any* creative reflection, you’re callous indeed.

    Maybe, then, you should “grow down” a little, in order to properly appreciate the Yongeness of Yonge btw/Dundas + Bloor…

  35. Thank goodness Sam’s is finally closing!!

    Yonge Street IS an eyesore and needs to be vastly improved. It’s an embarrassment that this tacky, cheap, ugly street with tacky, cheap stores like Sam’s is the main street of our city.

    It’s pretty sad that Torontonians have such low standards for urban design that we’ve let one of our most important streets (as well as most of the city frankly) languish in this state of decay for so long. Time to make some radical changes and improvements!

  36. LB> You’re the Hamish Wilson or John Spragge of Yonge Street clean up.

    Now that a landmark retailer has (so joyously, it would appear) closed, what would you suggest for Yonge?

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