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Sam the Record Man, a Yonge Street staple since 1961 and once Canada's top music retailer, will be closing its doors for good next month.

Citing ubiquitous music downloads, Jason and Bobby Sniderman, the sons of Sam Sniderman and present owners of the flagship Toronto store, said rarely does a day go by without a story about declining CD sales.

"We are making a responsible decision in recognizing the status of the record industry and the increasing impact of technology," said Bobby Sniderman in a press release.

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He would not elaborate when reached by telephone Tuesday.

The store will close June 30.

Sam the Record Man has been the most prominent victim of the ever-changing music industry in Canada.

In 2001, the store declared bankruptcy, liquidating most of its stock. It then reopened in 2002.

The business was squeezed by free music downloads on the Internet and rivals such as Wal-Mart and HMV, often selling hit CDs at cut rates.

Among other things, Sam's had stood out from the competition for its willingness to give Canadian records a chance.

"You know, I've sort of become an icon in my own time, the godfather of the recording-industry artists and all that, and I love that part of it," Sam Sniderman told The Globe and Mail in 2001. "It's been my life."

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His son, Bobby, agreed.

"This is about more than just bricks and mortar; Sam the Record Man is the most recognizable name in the Canadian Music Industry, an iconic legacy that will forever endure and perhaps, other opportunities will arise for us to develop the brand in the expanding delivery of music," he said in the release.

Musician-actor Ronnie Hawkins - who helped incubate such stars as The Band, including Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm, and whose bands included David Foster, Domenic Troiano, Amy Sky and Roy Buchanan - remembered Sam's being the only place he'd go to get his music.

"When I first came to Canada in 1958, he was the only one on Yonge Street that I knew of. One of the first albums he'd ordered for us was Muddy Waters."

Mr. Hawkins, 72, called the closing "the end of an era," adding that it was only a matter of time with "that new, fast world we're in. There's no way to stop it unless you take the computers and cell phones away from everybody, otherwise it's going to keep getting faster."

The closing marks the end of an era for the Snidermans, who have been in the record business since Mr. Sniderman began selling discs in the family's radio store in 1937. He added an outlet in a furniture store in 1960, opened the Yonge Street store the following year and began to create a chain through franchising in the late 1960s.

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The two franchise stores in Belleville, Ont., and Sarnia, Ont., will remain open.

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