|Founder||Sam "Goody" Gutowitz|
|Headquarters||Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.|
|Products||DVDs, CDs, Movies, Video Games, Posters|
Sam Goody was a music and entertainment retailer in the United States and United Kingdom, operated by The Musicland Group inc. It was purchased by Best Buy in 2000, sold to Sun Capital in 2003, and filed for bankruptcy in 2006, closing most of its stores. The remaining stores were purchased by Trans World Entertainment which also runs FYE, Saturday Matinee, and Suncoast Motion Picture Company. It specialized in music, video, and video game sales. In 2008 Trans World converted most Sam Goody stores into FYE, though some still operate under the Sam Goody name.
Sam "Goody" Gutowitz (1904-1991) of New York City opened a small record store on New York's 9th Avenue shortly after the advent of vinyl long-playing records in the late 1940s. Although he did some retail business from his main store on 49th Street, most of his volume was in mail-order sales at discount prices, of which he was a pioneer. He became something of a folk hero among penniless college students as the first successful large-scale LP discounter.
Later, the Sam Goody name was applied to a chain of record stores established in 1951 by Gutowitz. In 1959, a group of creditors took over the company to collect $2.4 million in debts. In 1978, the company was acquired by the American Can Company (later renamed Primerica), the owners of Minneapolis-based Musicland, Goody's rival. Sam Goody continued to grow through both acquisitions and organic growth, including the launch of its website. The stores averaged 4,600 square feet (430 m2) but varied in size from 1000 to 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2). The Musicland Group was once the largest music retailer in the country, operating at its peak more than 1300 stores, over 800 of them Sam Goodys, and earning over $2 billion in annual revenue.
In 1986, Sam Goody's corporate parent Musicland purchased the then just recently purchased 34-store Southern California-based Licorice Pizza chain and 26 other record stores for $13 million from Record Bar. The Licorice Pizza stores were rebranded Sam Goody the following year.
Best Buy attempted to diversify its retail holdings by purchasing Musicland. Best Buy's attempt to transform Musicland into a youth-oriented small-format technology hub failed after two years of ownership. Losses were exacerbated by a decline in physical CD sales in line with the general decline in CD sales, and by competition from big box retailers. Just weeks before Best Buy was prepared to liquidate the entire chain of stores (and after closing several hundred), they found a buyer in Sun Capital Partners, a private equity firm in Boca Raton, Florida, which acquired the chain in a cash-free transaction by acquiring Musicland's liabilities.
In 2002, Best Buy decided to consolidate some of the acquired stores by converting On Cue stores to the Sam Goody brand.
Under Sun Capital, the company closed more stores and tried to get the business back to basics, but ultimately the challenges of competition and lackluster music industry releases proved too much and in January 2006, The Musicland Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In February 2006, the company announced the closing of 226 Sam Goody and 115 Suncoast Motion Picture Company stores. Following the closings, the Sam Goody chain was left with 191 stores.
In March 2006, Trans World Entertainment, which had been acquiring their competitors for several years, announced the purchase of 400 Sam Goody and Suncoast stores. Trans World kept 345 of the stores open and closed 55. In late 2006, Trans World Entertainment Corp. began changing the names of mall-based Sam Goody stores to f.y.e., the company's signature retail store. Trans World retained the Suncoast Motion Picture Co. name on about 170 stores.
After a dismal fourth quarter 2006 and a lackluster year in general, Transworld admitted that it failed to anticipate some of the challenges that remained associated with the remaining Musicland stores that it acquired, especially the "Sam Goody Rural" concept located in small communities. As a result, they announced more store closings, many of which were likely to be former Musicland stores.
Trans World has announced their intention to focus on the f.y.e. brand and convert all Sam Goody stores to f.y.e stores in the future. By February 2009, Trans World had removed the Sam Goody brand from its corporate website. They kept a large store in San Diego branded Sam Goody due to the cost of changing the signs until late 2012. There are at least two Sam Goody branded stores left as of February 2019. They are located in the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville, Ohio and the Rogue Valley Mall in Medford, Oregon.
By late 2015, Transworld had a fully operational Sam Goody in the newly renovated Centre of Tallahassee in Tallahassee, Florida. The last recorded instance of this store was in an Internet Archive snapshot of the Centre of Tallahassee website from April 4, 2016, only to disappear by April 30.
In 1990, Sam Goody entered the UK market and established a presence in a number of English towns, such as Milton Keynes, Weston-super-Mare and Stockport, with a "deep catalogue" retail format that included a large amount of "recurrent" music albums and videos. However, whereas this format might have been successful in the United States in the 1980s and early 1990s, in the United Kingdom it came under pressure from a range of price led and established retailers. In 1999, Sam Goody had exited from UK marketplace, selling its stores off to rival retailers. At the chain's height, there were 22 stores and only 14 stores remained when the company exited the UK market.
The Stockport store was launched in a new retail development at the end of the Mersey Way shopping centre over two floors and mezzanine, with a special listening post area with a view of the entire mall.
However Sam Goody misjudged the marketplace and opened its store directly across the way from the slightly cheaper Our Price store, as well as nearby the successful Stockport value retailer Music Zone (Trade Direct) and HMV. Even though the store featured a larger amount of stock than its rivals and more obscure records, this was not enough to tempt the shoppers of Stockport away from the English companies, who preferred to shop around for the best deal. The store closed and the unit is now taken by a building society.
Sam Goody was one of the retailers to open in the Royal Victoria Place shopping centre in 1992 as part of the town's huge redevelopment. They benefited from not having a serious rival such as HMV and Virgin in the town, and was certainly one of their more successful stores in the group. Several years before the group went defunct in 1999, they were host to high profile in-store personal appearances such as David Prowse (launching the Star Wars special edition Trilogy VHS), Dannii Minogue and The Stranglers. After its closure, the unit, along with its neighbor, was turned into an HMV outlet. After Sam Goody had decided to exit the tough English market, the Weston-super-Mare store was sold to American rival Tower Records who rebranded it as Tower Express before they also decided to quit the UK market.
And a fond farewell to Licorice Pizza, the popular Southland music and video stores which will undergo a name change at the end of the month as part of a corporate consolidation by new parent company, Musicland Group, Minneapolis. The chain has renamed its 35 area Licorice Pizza stores, which will now be called Sam Goody Music & Video.