The Sign

Here are some facts we have assembled about the famous record signs that were taken off the building and placed in storage before the building was taken down.


The signs

  • The original neon record sign (located at 347 Yonge Street) was constructed in 1969-70 by the Markle Brothers
  • The sign replaced earlier neon signage that included a neon thermometer and barometer that indicated local weather conditions
  • The original sign uses mechanical flashing units to create the illusion of a spinning record
  • A second neon record sign (located at 349 Yonge Street to the north of the original sign) was constructed in 1987 by Claude Neon Inc.
  • In 1987, open-face neon letters reading “SAM” were added to the top of both record signs and a back-lit fascia sign reading “Yes, this is SAM the Record Man” was added below each of the record signs


The structure

  • Each spinning record is 7.5 metres wide and 8 metres high
  • Each record consists of 120 individual tubes of white neon with red neon tubes in the centre of each record reading “That’s Entertainment”
  • There are 250 glass housings for the neon on each sign
  • The neon tubes have 27 transformers and flashing units to animate the sign, giving the illusion of a spinning record
  • The marquee letters that spell “SAM” at the top of each sign are 1.1 metres high, are outlined in red neon and have multiple marquee lights on the face of each letter
  • More than 550 individual bulbs are used to illuminate the interior of all six “SAM” letters
  • The two large fascia signs at the bottom of each record are made of white acrylic set in a sheet metal and angled steel frame and are 0.6 metres wide and 1.5 metres long
  • Total linear footage of neon tubing (red and white) is 786 feet per sign; when both signs are combined there a is 1,572 feet of neon, which placed end-to-end would run from Yonge and Gould to just north of College Street


The future

Ryerson University purchased the Sam’s site after the store closed in 2007 for the university’s new Student Learning Centre. The two record signs that were on the front of the store have been carefully preserved. They were professionally dismantled, carefully crated and have been in storage since 2008.


The university is aiming to celebrate the store, the Sam’s legacy and the Toronto music scene with this website and other tributes.