“We had better sales before we were going out of business,” says a soon-to-be-unemployed Tower Records clerk about the big Going Out of Business sale the terminally liquidated music and video chain launched on Saturday. (Link from the Velvet Rope via LA Observed.)
It’s no wonder. The chain is knocking a measly 10 percent off its overpriced stock. You can do better at Best Buy, and they aren’t going anywhere. I went inside the Torrance store anyway and picked up a few classical disks (Beethoven’s triple concerto featuring David Oistrakh, Debussy’s most famous orchestral works, a two-disk Leonard Bernstein survey) that looked like good deals, plus a live Irene Kral — that jazzy lady is almost forgotten and her recordings hard to find. I didn’t want to wait until all their best inventory was gone and the racks half-empty; that would be too depressing.
I asked the sweet Goth girl behind the counter how long this sale would go on. “About a week,” she said. I told her I thought at this rate it would be more like a month. But now, thinking about it, maybe not. These items were not priced to move. At best, they were trying to get rid of the most recent stuff that the store overstocked. Could be, in a week they will close the doors and ship the remaining inventory to an online reseller. Maybe it will all be sucked into the maw of Amazon, or Ebay.
This story, by longtime music industry journalist Chris Morris, suggests the liquidation will unsettle a number of businesses:
The sell-off of Tower’s inventory, valuations of which run as high as $200 million, could have a wide-ranging impact on the music business at large. The company’s West Sacramento, Calif., warehouse is filled with product from the vendors of its independent distribution company, Bayside Distribution, and its accessories suppliers. Companies with a high degree of exposure could be dealt a serious blow when their product is returned for full wholesale cost.
According to Morris, Tower’s demise leaves Virgin Megastores as the largest remaining terrestrial “deep catalogue” music seller. The firm’s founder took note of the occasion.
The family of Russ Solomon, who founded Tower in 1960 as a music department in his father’s Sacramento pharmacy, remained a 15% shareholder. Solomon did not enter a bid for the company.
In an e-mail circulated Friday to Tower’s staff, Solomon said, “The fat lady has sung … she was way off key. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.”