soundscapes toronto

Toronto record store permanently closing and people in the city are heartbroken

Classic Toronto record store Soundscapes is closing its doors for good after two decades, leaving music lovers in the city heartbroken.

Whether you shopped for CDs, bought a concert ticket or saw an intimate show at Soundscapes, if you're into music in any way you've probably visited the tiny audiophile haven at least once.

The store posted an announcement to their website saying they'd be closing within months and selling off their inventory for discounted prices. The sale brought out droves of music fans over the Easter long weekend, many of whom shared their dismay at the closure and memories of the shop with staff.

Soundscapes staffer Phil Liberbaum tells blogTO that the store has been "mainly CD-oriented" since Greg Davis opened it in June 1999, and that there's been a decline in CD shopping due to Spotify and similar services.

"The store was very much a labour of love, not just a soulless business," Liberbaum says.

Though they also sold vinyl, they stuck to strictly new records and reissues, staying out of the competitive used-vinyl market in Toronto.

Liberbaum also says the pandemic hasn't helped and that they've struggled to stay afloat through multiple lockdowns, only being able to allow five customers in at a time even when they could open for in-person shopping.

He calls Christmas a "complete washout," saying that although people shopped with them it wasn't the same as having walk-in customers able to browse. Even though their concert-ticket service fees were relatively small, they still helped, and of course there have been no concerts.

On top of that, Soundscape has had to deal with high rent and property taxes, and Liberbaum feels that even prior the pandemic night life was migrating away from College Street. 

"Greg took a long hard look at the store, decided to cut his losses and go out on a high note," says Liberbaum, adding that he's "deeply touched to witness the sadness of their most devoted customers."

Liberbaum says it's too early to pinpoint an exact closing date for Soundscapes yet as it depends how long it takes for the inventory to sell, but he anticipates their last day will be sometime around the end of May.

He notes the store is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and that you've got a better chance of snagging that choice CD you have your eye on if you come by earlier on weekdays.

Rare and out-of-print new CDs are 50 per cent off and magazine back issues are $2 or 10 for $15.

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