Sam Goody

Sam Goody
Industry Retail
Founded 1951
Defunct 2006
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 f.y.e., 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, most of his volume was in mail-order sales at discount prices. He became something of a folk hero among penniless college students as the first successful large-scale LP discounter.[1][2][3]

Later, The Sam Goody name was applied to a chain of record stores established in 1951 by Gutowitz. In 1978, the company was acquired by the American Can Company (later renamed Primerica), the owners of Minneapolis-based Musicland,[4] Goody's rival.[5] 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).[6] 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.

Best Buy

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.

Musicland bankruptcy

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.

Acquisition by Transworld

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 the fall of 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.[7]

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. As of February 2009, Trans World removed the Sam Goody brand from its corporate website.[8] They kept a large store in San Diego branded Sam Goody due to the cost of changing the signs until late 2012.[9]

As of December 2015, Transworld still has a fully operational Sam Goody in the newly renovated Centre of Tallahassee in Tallahassee, Florida.[10]

Sam Goody in the United Kingdom

In 1990, Sam Goody entered the UK market[11] 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.[11][12] 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.


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.

Royal Tunbridge Wells

As part of the town's huge redevelopment, Sam Goody was one of the retailers to open in the Royal Victoria Place shopping centre in 1992. 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 several 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 neighbour, was turned into an HMV outlet.


  1. Ed, Easy (December 15, 2011). "The Story of Sam Gutowitz". No Depression.
  2. Barmash, Isadore (Jun 13, 1988). "At 85, Sam Goody Longs For a New Business". New York Times. p. D2. Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  3. Kleinfield, N.R. (February 29, 1980). "The Origins of Sam Goody Inc.: Capitalized on the LP Record 29 Stores in Chain". New York Times. p. B4. Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  4. Barmash, Isadore (December 14, 1977). "American Can Plans To Buy Sam Goody". New York Times. pp. D1, D7. (subscription required (help)). Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  5. Schuster, Mike (June 19, 2009). "Mall Brands: Sam Goody". Minyanville.
  6. "2002 snapshot of Musicland website archived at". Sam Goody. Archived from the original on 2002-12-09.
  7. "Trans World set to buy struggling Musicland". Business Review. February 21, 2006.
  8. "February 9, 2009 Internet Archive snapshot of website". Archived from the original on 2009-02-09.
  9. Mannes, Tanya (September 12, 2012). "Sam Goody store to close (the last one!): Most of the chain's stores were converted to F.Y.E. brand". San Diego Union-Tribune.
  10. Waters, TaMaryn (March 6, 2015). "Tallahassee Mall: Longtime customers help mall businesses survive". Tallahassee Democrat. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  11. 1 2 Ferguson, Tom & Christman, Ed (February 13, 1999). "Musicland Pulls Out Of U.K.". Billboard. 111 (7). pp. 12, 123. ISSN 0006-2510.
  12. Ferguson, Tom (January 9, 2010). "Atlantic Crossing". Billboard. 122 (1). p. 24. ISSN 0006-2510.
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