When Wilson and Lee first opened for business in Oshawa, the Great War had only ended five years earlier. Radio was barely a thing. The most popular car in the world was Ford’s Model T. And if you wanted to listen to records, you needed a wind-up Victrola to play fragile 78 RPM records.
And if in 1922 you wanted to buy one of those records, you could go to Wilson and Lee’s record store and find them amongst all the musical instruments.
Over the decades it survived depression, recessions, wars, technological changes (78s, LPs, 45s, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, and back to vinyl) and countless musical trends. It was an excellent run.
Sadly, after 97 years, the store is about to close. The property at 87 Simcoe Street North has been sold to the Holiday Inn next door and brothers Bill (who has worked at the store for 67 years) and Dave (the new guy at 52 years) Wilson have decided to shut things down.
But not quite yet. It will be business as usual until the end of November. After that, there will be a massive inventory clearance that should take things to Christmas.
The store was founded by William George Wilson, the brothers’ grandfather, a former piano tuner and refurbisher. When he needed a place to sell his used pianos, he opened a store on Simcoe Street.
When Grandpa William retired, his son, also named William, took over. His son, Bill, began in the store while he was in high school.
Ninety-seven years is a long time for any store to be in business, let alone a music store. So who holds the record (sorry) for the oldest music store on the planet? That would be Spillers Records in Cardiff, Wales. It’s been around since 1894.
Read more here.