Sunday, June 03, 2007

Ham's Sam's

Whilst en route to see Sloan in Port Colborne back in August 2003, we drove through downtown Hamilton to take a look around and see just how things were looking in an everybody-now-shops-at-Lime Ridge world. The results were rather depressing.

For me, one of the major reasons for my depression was the hollow shell of what used to be the Tivoli Theatre and the Sam's outlet which had relocated a few years prior from their more logical King Street location. The relocation was an attempt to bring new life to a stretch of James Street which had been slowly declining for years. As with most attempts like this, and the opening of the kitty-cornered Hamilton Eaton Centre, people stayed away in droves, leaving behind a bad idea with a pretty cool sign.

The Hamilton Sam's was an ambitious kid-brother to the Toronto flagship store. It had a second floor devoted to Jazz and Classical music (although they really needed air conditioning up there), as well as an entire room dedicated to Country/Folk/Traditional music, nodding to the 820 CHAM crowd. The design of the store resembled a faux-50s-diner, which suited the brand and the store just fine, since Sam's itself is rather anachronistic icon of Canadian music retail. Why NOT embrace a 'heritage' style?

Slowly, the store began to shrink. On my last visit, the second floor was closed and most of the non-pop music was crammed in the main part of the store, while the pop stacks were in the former Country section. The selection was much thinner than it was at its opening, and the sale racks seemed to be full of deleted titles, rather than deals on recent releases.

Photos taken Saturday, August 2, 2003 in Hamilton, Ontario.

In late 2004, the collapse of the theatre's lobby expedited the demolition of both the theatre and the former store, leaving yet another hole in downtown Hamilton. A sidebar story which doesn't mention Sam's in particular, but which chronicles the 'devolution' of downtown Hamilton is here:

Photo taken Monday, June 19, 2006 in Hamilton, Ontario.

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