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351 Yonge Street, with various branches across the city.
Of all the battles among the record stores that lined Yonge Street between the 1960s and the 1990s, the fiercest ones were between the giants of the strip: A&A and Sam the Record Man. Started in the 1940s by Mac and Alice Kenner primarily as a book store, A&A’s name was chosen so that it would be listed first in the phone book. By the 1960s, the store was reputed to have one of the deepest record inventories in the world, especially in the classical field. Sam Sniderman once claimed he was prompted to move close to A&A from his original College Street location after he discovered the Kenners were pasting his newspaper ads on their window—with Sam’s name removed.
Visiting musicians were occasionally at the receiving end of gags played by A&A staff. When jazz pianist Dave Brubeck came to the store, one of his records was spun on the store’s P.A. system. “Take that thing off!” Mac Kenner yelled. “Put on something commercial!” Brubeck slouched into his coat and felt ill-at-ease until Kenner admitted he had played a joke.
The company was sold to CBS in 1971, then Sound Insight a decade later. At its peak, A&A had 260 locations across the country, but expansion proved ill-advised. After several rounds of bankruptcy, another ownership change, and the arrival of HMV on the scene, the Yonge Street landmark closed for good in 1993.
A&A Records, as viewed from Elm Street, late 1970s or early 1980s. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 20, Item 23. Additional material from the February 11, 1967 edition of the Globe and Mail.