Tower Records is going out of business.
This is not news in the strictest sense of the word because it was announced October 6, but I think the situation merits an editorial in the inimitable DMBYSC manner you know and love.
So, Tower is closing its stores. For many years, Tower has been a destination store for music nerds like me. I've visited Tower stores in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, New Orleans, Dallas and, most frequently, Nashville. Yes, I've led a rich and full life. "Liberty Bell? Fuck that shit, let's go to Tower and check out the imports."
Jen and I were in Nashville Oct. 6-8 visiting Tony and Sarah. We were driving around when we saw some fool wearing a sandwich board that read, "Tower Records/Store Closing/Up to 30% Off All Merchandise," along with some miniscule fine print. So off we went to check out the store and see if there were any great deals to be had. There weren't, because practically everything, including CDs, was a mere 10% off. I ended up buying a Madness comp because a) I'd seen that Maxwell House commercial that uses "Our House" and I had the song stuck in my head and b) it was stickered at $9.99, which was incredibly cheap for Tower, and with 10% off, I got it for under $10 (just barely, but still).
And that's what killed Tower, I think. I'm so used to seeing new CDs priced in the $8.99-$13.99 range that whenever I dropped into a Tower store over the last few years there was always a moment of sticker shock when I'd see all the new CDs "on sale" for $15.99 or whatever. I'm all for supporting independent music stores and the like, but I'm also all for supporting myself, so if I can find something cheaper at Target, Best Buy or online, I'll buy it there. It's a no-brainer.
Many of the articles and obituaries that have flooded the interwebs since the big announcement have focused on the sales clerks and their deep musical knowledge, painting pictures of helpful Tower employees roaming the store, striking up conversations with shoppers, making recommendations and turning them on to artists they might not have otherwise discovered, which never happened to me -- all the Towers I visited were populated with snotty hipster douchebag assholes straight out of central casting who would sulk behind the counter as if chained there, dressed in their too-tight "vintage" t-shirts purchased pre-distressed at Urban Outfitters, just so painfully mortified that they had to mingle with people who might actually listen to something other than Deerhoof or Panic! At The Disco or whoever Pitchfork told them was hip that month. Consequently, I mainly bought magazines and toys -- yes, toys -- from Tower and I bought my music online (or I got review copies straight from the publicist, hee hee).
But still. I feel depressed that Tower has bitten the dust. This is an instance where the phrase "the end of an era" genuinely applies.