Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Last Holiday for Tower Records
Written by EV Staff
Sunday, 26 November 2006
towerBy the end of December, all Tower's 89 stores in 20 states will be closed forever, including its popular store at Broadway and 4th Street in the East Village. "I haven't bought a record or cd in almost 10 years," said Jill Stahl, 38, an East Village resident, "I get everything online..."

Thomas Galvin, 32, says "Everyone knows online downloading and ordering are the way to go. It's easy, often times cheaper than the big retail stores.." then adds, "And sometimes free if you know how to do it."

That sentiment was shared by almost everyone we spoke to.

Janet Hillbourough says, "I can preview and buy the songs I like online, why waste $20 on a cd when you won't listen to 90% of it. Plus I then have to transfer the CD to a format which my MP3 player accepts. It's a pain."

Only William Valentine, 26, of Coney Island had a slightly different view, "I will miss being able to hold the cd in my hand before I buy it -- The cover art, the liner notes -- but I guess there will always be smaller record shops which specialize in the music you like."

Tower was founded in 1960 by Russ Solomon in Sacramento, California. Solomon started selling records in his family-owned drugstore, which shared a building and name with the Tower Theater. By the 1990's, Tower was operating as one of the largest music retailers in the business, with nearly 90 company-owned stores and "61 franchise agreements" worldwide.

The East Village in general has never been fond of large retail chains, but Tower Records seemed to have gained acceptance and legitimacy amongst local music lovers and old-school purists alike. A big part of that had to do with it's knowledgeable and local staff.

Going out of business
The 4th street store gained great popularity in the 1980's, when they featured live in-store performances by many up and coming pop and new wave bands. It was a popular place for teens and audiophiles to hang out and waste an afternoon.

A musician and employee using the name "Jacob" stated, "I have worked here for about eight years. I have met a lot of famous people and networked with a lot of other musicians and people in the industry. I will miss that community, never mind the paycheck."

Speaking of which, each Tower Records can employ over one hundred people. A lot of jobs will be lost because of this closing. Most Tower employees are musicians themselves, and left wondering where else they will fit in.

Tower window
"Some of us still aren't ready to close", Jacob continues, "We really only had a short time to prepare. Actually some of us didn't know we were going to close until we heard it on the news. It was always a rumor."

In 2004, Tower Records filed for bankruptcy, citing overzealous expansion and the growth of internet sales. In October 2006, Tower announced it will close all of it's retail stores by the end of the year, and offers all of its inventory at liquidated prices until then.

As a sign of the times, will continue to operate.

Jacob says he will probably try bartending next. As long as it doesn't interfere with his "rehearsal schedule."