Most of the Tower Records have closed up shop this week, leaving the Lincoln Center New York location as the last one to close today. Indeed, it's an end of an era.
Over the weekend, I paid my respects to the two New Jersey locations and in Philadelphia. I laid an old copy of Pulse Magazine at each store. Inside each store, it was a sad sight. First off the place smelled like a porn shop ... not that I know what one smells like, but if I did, it smelled like a rundown Tower Records. I did manage to drop $150 of some good CDs marked down to $4-$6. The key was the stores in Jersey, not many people looking to buy Lansden-Dresden, Jamie Lidell, Brightblack Morninglight, Archie Bronson Outfit, Mendoza Line, etc.
The Philly location on South Street was the perfect meeting place before venturing out. Then the Cherry Hill location was the only place that was open late, closing at midnight. So when you're poor and their's no good movies to see, it was a good place to waste a few hours, listening to all the new music and discovering different artists.
When I was in college, I took a trip to Los Angeles and made sure to visit the Tower on Sunset Blvd., which was where a lot of artists got their music before they got famous. I even remember what I bought -- Cake's Fashion Nugget and Stereolab's Emperor Tomato Ketchup.
It was a long time coming: real estate rents are going up and each store is a prime spot. Tower Records prices couldn't compete with Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, Circuit City, Amazon and the ITunes store. Behind the scenes, Tower was riddled with mismanagement. My Uncle was a manager of the 2nd floor at the Lincoln Center location, overseeing Jazz, Soundtracks and Classical. He then became a buyer for World Music. Three years ago, him and majority of the buyers were let go, which was a sign of things to come. He told me stories of employees getting caught stealing CDs, thus lead to restrictions on the employee discounts.
The overall feeling of loss comes that there is one less place for people to gather and discover music. I don't think the CD or the indie music store will be done by the end of the decade. My hope is these major chains expanded their music selection beyond what the major labels are shipping ... or just have listening stations.
That's all that Tower wrote my friends. What odds to you give Virgin MegaStore going south?