Canadian Music Trade - February / March - Page 21

STEVE’S MUSIC TIMELINE May 15, 1965 – Steve’s Music Montreal opens at 51 St-Antoine St. West October 30, 1977 – Steve’s Music Toronto opens at 415 Queen St. West April 1, 1981 – Steve’s Music Ottawa opens at 308 Rideau St. December 2013 – Steve’s Music Greenfield Park opens at 100 Ave. Auguste December 2014 – Steve’s Music Dollard-des-Ormeaux opens at 61 Brunswick Blvd. October 2017 – Steve’s Music’s new Montreal location opens at 150 Ste-Catherine St. East it was hands on and felt like I was testing out gear in an environment not too much removed from the sometimes grotty bars where I’d use that gear live. To be sure, that’s a compliment, not a criticism. I loved that store without reservation, and I’m certainly not alone among performing musicians. The Montreal property Steve’s had long inhabited was sold to a condo developer in 2012. “To make a long story short,” Kirman says, “there was a developer that bought the property. Then the province put a freeze on (that) to try to stop the development.” Ultimately, the government expro- priated the premises for the purpose of a potential expansion of the nearby Palais des Congrès. Steve’s was notified of this in March 2017. “As a result, we had to find an- other place to do what we do best – what we’ve been doing for the past 52 years at the old location, but if it didn’t happen now, it would have happened a year or two from now,” Kirman adds. “Obviously, a lot of my emotions, blood, sweat, tears, and efforts have been put into this location,” says Sheldon Sazant, the general manager of Steve’s Montreal. Sazant began his career at Steve’s as a part-time employee in 1978, moving boxes up in the warehouse, and essentially grew up in the store. The move has understandably been an emotional experience for Sazant and some of his longtime colleagues – especially Michael Kirman. “A lot of my dad’s experience is in this [old] building,” Kirman shares candidly. “We’re trying to get the spirit of that into the new business. We’re trying to keep our heritage, but we’re also definitely looking towards the future.” bit of surprise and panic, but having said that, it was also enlightening and exhilarat- ing. Obviously the family had two choices – close the business, or continue. Thankfully, they chose to continue the business and the legacy of the store, and hopefully we’ll be at this new location for another 52 years. “It was a mix of emotions,” Sazant tacks on, “but we embraced the challenge.” In looking for new digs, the criteria were to find something downtown and relatively close to the previous store, easily accessible via public transit and local high- ways, and boasting an overall footprint akin to that of its longtime location. “I didn’t want to shrink the business and I also wanted to modernize it, and have a little more of an open concept,” Kirman shares. “Just finding something here that’s 10,000-square-feet is almost impossible,” he says – but they did. Taking over the new space when it was essentially a concrete shell provided them the opportunity to work closely with a Montreal-based design firm, Loda Design, to create a retail experience that, though up- dated for a new generation, still maintains the cherished environment and vibe of the previous store. “We brought in the photos we had in the old store,” Sazant explains – “a cash register Steve started his first business with, and we’re going to display photos of the old store so that people have that nos- talgic vibe.” Loda specializes in retail, he explains, and Steve’s Music’s contact there is actually a musician and a store customer. “So they understood the business and spent a lot of time doing research to ensure we’re preserving the feel of the old store in a new environment,” Kirman notes. The key to the design was balancing those elements – creating an open concept feel and providing a more efficient and pleasurable shopping experience without sacrificing the familiarity and character that has made Steve’s a go-to for musicians of all kinds for so many years. Totaling nearly 10,000 sq. ft. over two floors, the usable retail space in the new store is similar to that at St-Antoine. On Ste-Cath- erine St., they have a roughly 200-sq. ft. warehouse, but the main office and the vast majority of the warehouse space have been relocated to their distribution centre and central warehouse on the West Island. Even after the Ste-Catherine St. loca- tion had opened, Steve’s was still using its previous locations for rentals, service, and liquidation services until the expropriation was formally complete. Ultimately, the Ste-Catherine St. space The new store, located at 150 Ste-Catherine St. East, officially opened in October 2017 and, although it’s been a big change with its fair share of frustrations and emotions, both Kirman and Sazant see the move as a tremendous opportunity. Sazant says his initial reaction upon re- alizing the move was necessary was: “A little CANADIAN MUSIC TRADE • 21