Gentrification: Losing a Building but Gaining a Memory
You don’t know what you’ve got ’til its gone
Gentrification has potential to a good or equally bad for a community. Closing Sam the Record Man sparked a huge reaction across Toronto and even those who did not live in the city but would make day trips to the store. Sam’s defined culture. The store brought teens and adults together to share this single moment. Consumption, especially in the record and music market, creates a culture and defines a person. When the record shop closed down, the current and past users expressed themselves in public forums. Whether it was a blog, conversation, interviews or comments on an online article, listening to the voice of the public and consumer is an important exercise in the process of gentrifying a piece of a city, especially a historical site. The largest theme expressed, was a feeling of nostalgia. People felt ‘at home’ when they went to Sam’s, and now that it is gone, nostalgia has become a collective memory, shared by many. The collective memory of nostalgia came the esoteric vibe that radiated from the record store. Although buyers came from different walks of life, they shared a single passion: music. Whether it was to buy a 45, tickets to a show, or even see a band play, people would congregate at Sam’s to indulge in something they loved.
The building is gone now, and many have expressed their reactions, whether they be radical, sympathetic or hopeful, Sam the Record Man had touched the musical souls of many which left people with a strong memory of the past. Consumerism goes beyond the price tag. People have made transactions of musical knowledge, exchanged experiences, and invested much of their time which helped the record store become the empire it once was. Although the fall of the Sam’s empire was expected because of the constant change in the music industry, the decline was not welcomed.
The lot has been purchased by Ryerson University and will become an extension of the current Library. The importance of this tale, is to focus on what the people have to say, and not just those who make the executive decisions. After all, it was because of people’s dedication that made Sam’s the Record Man a second home in its heyday.