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Sonic Boom (Annex)

Posted by Derek Flack / Posted on August 30, 2011

Sonic Boom TorontoSonic Boom, Toronto's biggest independent record shop, can now be found on Bathurst just south of Bloor, less than a minute-long walk from its former location. As promised back in June when the store announced that it would have to leave its home to make way for the arrival of a Dollarama location, the new store occupies much of the east side of Honest Ed's, which had sat vacant for quite some time prior to the arrival of its new tenant.

Despite the new digs, Sonic Boom is very much the record shop it's always been. In fact, if you squint your eyes a little, you might just think nothing's changed other than its address. Not only is the store's general aesthetic basically the same, but it's laid out in a similar manner as well.

Sonic Boom TorontoUpon closer inspection, however, there are a few noteworthy differences between the old and new shops. To start with the most obvious of these, the new store is slightly smaller than the old one, due mostly to the loss of the 3,500 square feet of basement space that was used for vinyl sales and live shows. It doesn't look this way, though. Because Sonic Boom is now located on only one level, the first sense one gets when walking in is that it seems a bit bigger.

Sonic Boom TorontoIn pragmatic terms, the lost space means that the vinyl section is now a bit smaller. This doesn't really represent an overall loss, though. With the addition of a vinyl-focused store in Kensington Market, there are just as many records available from Sonic Boom, just not all at one location.

Sonic Boom TorontoAs far as the non-vinyl stock goes, the selection remains the same as before. Rock (indie and otherwise) and electro are particular strengths, but there's solid coverage across almost all genres, including, of course, lots of deals to be had on used versions of albums, films and television shows. Also worthy of mention is the excellent selection of boxed sets and concert and music-themed films on offer.

Sonic Boom TorontoA development from the last few years that's kept up at the new location is the addition of books, t-shirts and record players. While the last of these will be more prominently featured at the Kensington Market store, there's a sizable area at the Honest Ed's location set aside for the former two.

Sonic Boom TorontoPerhaps more importantly, the new Sonic Boom will still feature live music performances and Tim Oakley's quirky window displays, the latter of which should go a long way toward brightening the rather drab stretch of Bathurst where it's located. Due to the different configuration of the windows, Oakley will now be tasked with putting together three displays (it used to be two), which he tells me he hopes to get started on in a week or two.

Sonic Boom TorontoWith the loss of the basement space where concerts used to take place, there was some doubt as to how Sonic Boom would be able to keep its in-store performances going after the move, but thanks to the portability of the vinyl displays, this area, which is located at the back of the store, will work just fine for small concerts. An added bonus is that the stage is surrounded by elevated mirrors that will afford audiences an almost 360 degree view of those performing.

Sonic Boom TorontoWhile Sonic Boom's owner Jeff Barber didn't want to relocate his store, based on my first visit, I have to think this is about as good a scenario as he could have hoped for in terms of relocation plans. Sure the Honest Ed's signage robs the new location of a bit of street-front prominence, but once Oakley has his displays up and customers get used to walking around the corner to the new shop, the new Sonic Boom will feel just like home for its loyal clientele.

Sonic Boom TorontoSonic Boom TorontoSonic Boom BathurstPhotos by Jesse Milns



ife / August 31, 2011 at 01:43 am
is all the old art and posters up as well?
Tim / August 31, 2011 at 02:13 am
The store looks great!
Anton / January 12, 2012 at 04:52 pm
T-shirts are sooo overpriced and poor quality. Go to Black Market on Queen instead for bands' merchandise
gary newman / February 13, 2012 at 04:02 pm
Liked the old location better but not their fault.
Staff are a bit grumpy sometimes and so serious.
I have found many great cds here and still think its the best record shop in the city!
sound / August 25, 2012 at 11:26 am
Great shop though most used vinyl is waaayyyy over priced.To think that back in the 80's and 70's, some of the same records I have from that period were either the same price or cheaper brand new than they are today at Sonic's is disappointing.Also noticed the used movies were expensive .The newer and reissued selection is awesome and I suppose the prices are normal. Overall good store and I will continue going .
Francis / November 20, 2013 at 04:11 pm
MIA instore at Sonic Boom? That never happened...
dan taco / December 30, 2013 at 11:57 am
Yuck Wal-Mart of music stores - stay away.
Kensington Market location much better
Danielle / February 3, 2014 at 11:08 am
Too much depends on the arsitt and how intricate the piece is. The better the arsitt the more costly he or she is worth and the guy I use is at a375 per hour and 2 A4 sheets I think will take more than 4 hours in totalTake your design to a local arsitt and get their opinion. Any good tattoo arsitt will work with you to a) produce a design with you that you will be proud of and b) one that he or she will be proud of. They will be sure to be able to give you a near costGood luck with your ink
todd / March 6, 2014 at 11:43 pm
I been going to Sonic Boom for sometime now. That store is huge.I love the records in there. I bought a lot of lp's from Sonic Boom.I am going back tomorrow night.
David / April 26, 2014 at 10:46 am
Cheap prices for cds, vinyl is often average priced, maybe a bit expensive but look for deals. Know they buy for real cheap, almost insulting really, then turn around and add quite a mark up.
Gerald / September 15, 2014 at 02:27 pm
Great post, Derek. I especially liked your photos. They really do give us a sense of the size of the shop and what the shop has to offer!
I always get excited when entering a CDs store. Now, it's almost as if everything from music to books is digital. It's nice to see that people still pay tribute to the novelty of CDs. I've even wrote more about this here:
Anyway, thank you for sharing this. It brings back a lot of nostalgia!
w.j. / October 27, 2014 at 08:55 pm
I went to this store hoping it would be a great experience. Instead, when I entered I was treated to some odd, VERY odd music that sounded like a back up beeper slowed down about half speed. I asked a sales if they could put on something else, and, obviously resenting that I didn't like the music, rudely questioned me as to what they should play? I said, how about something that would motivate customers to buy, like Motown? After further discussion about what was being played, he laughed at me for categorizing the music as something it wasn't. Needless to say, I will never step my foot into this business again. If you aren't willing to satisfy the customer, listen to their opinion and be polite, and make the customer feel comfortable in your store, then get out of business because it will always come back to haunt you.
Viji / February 20, 2015 at 03:46 am
/ This was a actually quite beifeicnal submit. In theory I’d like to write like this also getting time and actual effort to make a good piece of writing… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no means seem to obtain one thing done.
Kiran / April 26, 2015 at 09:59 pm
The food blog that I have been really ennjyiog is Nose to Tail at Home: The author is cooking/blogging his way through Fergus Henderson's "Nose to Tail: A Kind of British Cooking". His blog doesn't entirely focus on that project and he covers an array of food topics.His writing style is warm and chatty and it makes for a really nice read.

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