How should I, a lifelong music fan and major customer of Tower Records over most of the past 35 years, feel about the company filing for bankruptcy?
Nostalgic? Definitely. I’ll never forget the sweet redhead clerk at the Berkeley store who leaped over the counter to kiss me when she saw from my ID that I was buying myself an album on my 18th birthday.
A visit to Tower Records on the way home from work was a sure-fire way to beat the blues–especially if I walked out with a trademark yellow plastic bag with a new platter inside. The classical Tower that used to be a stand-alone on Sunset Strip expanded my musical horizons. (Yes, you read that right. Just down the road from the Whiskey A Go Go and Gazzari’s was a store devoted to classical music.)
Guilty? Probably. Like most of their former customers, I buy most of my CDs from Amazon nowadays; and increasingly listen to music I’ve downloaded from Rhapsody via my subscription.
I’ve never bought a CD at Wal-Mart, the rival cited in most stories, but to me a Wal-Mart would never be competition for Tower, because Tower’s music offerings were vastly deeper than Wal-Mart (or Target or K-Mart). I have only been to Wal-Mart twice, and my purchases were mostly T-shirts (although I did get an external hard drive for $14!).
I still like to stop and browse the Torrance Tower sometimes, however. And I visit their Santa Monica Promenade location every time I go there.
Will I patronize “the brand” after it is taken by its new owners into cyberspace only? Who knows, but it doesn’t sound promising. Virtual shopping I already know how to do. It was the browsing through Tower’s aisles, flipping through the stacks and finding things I didn’t know existed that made Tower special. And it’s probably not a good business model to keep all that inventory around in the world of 2006:
“The brick-and-mortar specialty music retail industry has suffered substantial deterioration recently,” Tower said in court papers.
So that’s what Tower’s bankruptcy and imminent disappearance from the brick-and-mortar world makes me feel: