Sunrise Records, one of Canada’s top music retailers, will be shutting down operations at their flagship Toronto stores by mid-November. A closing sale featuring deeply discounted prices commenced September 20 and will continue until all inventory has been sold.
“It is a very sad time, having to close the stores on Yonge,” says owner and co-founder Malcolm Perlman. “Unfortunately, rent on Yonge Street has become too prohibitive to be able to profitably operate stores there.”
Sunrise Records began as a single store located at 237 Yonge Street when Malcolm Perlman, together with his brother Roy Perlman, bought the store from the Handleman Co. in 1978. Previously, Malcolm was Vice President of Finance at Capitol Records Canada — which later became EMI Music Canada — at the height of its golden years. During his 7 years at Capitol, Malcolm gained valuable experience in all aspects of the music business including manufacturing, product distribution and licensing, retail, and music publishing, which he was able to parlay into running operations at the store.
In 1986, Sunrise moved to its present location at 336 Yonge Street and also opened at Yonge & Bloor in the early 2000’s alongside openings at malls all over Southern Ontario. As the economics of the business changed, stores were closed as leases expired and the need for succession planning for the business became necessary. A decision was made to sell all remaining mall stores and close the Yonge Street locations as their leases were due to expire. Currently, a deal to sell the mall stores is in the works, and the hope is for the chain to be revitalized and expanded under new ownership staffed with some seasoned Sunrise management.
“We have many loyal customers to whom we always strived to offer superior service and a wide range of products at reasonable prices,” adds Malcolm. “We also helped support local independent artists by carrying their CDs. Over the years, I’ve witnessed the evolution of the business from LPs to Cassettes to CDs and now remarkably, back to LPs and turntables. The electronic media has presented a major challenge but in my opinion, also an opportunity to be inventive. Music is with us forever.”
Over the years, many popular and legendary artists have made in-store appearances, the most memorable perhaps being Ricky Martin at his peak. An estimated 10,000 people crowded the store and overflowed into the surrounding area resulting in Toronto’s busiest street to shut down between Elm and Dundas, making headlines. Other notable appearances include Ozzy Osbourne, Rodriguez who starred in the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching for Sugarman”, Barenaked Ladies, The Animals’ Eric Burdon, and John Densmore of The Doors.