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Just a note for Chicago-area forum members in case they missed it: check out Tower Records' going out of business sale at the South Wabash St. store (and presumably at the Lincoln Park store on North Clark St., too.) I guess there is nothing like a direct advertising approach: I learned about it when I saw a guy on a street corner several blocks away holding a sign announcing "Tower Closing - 30% Off."
The "30% Off" turned out to be a classic bait-and-switch, however, because when I arrived at the store, I found that DVDs and CDs/SACDs were only 10% off. The only items I noticed at 30% off were the music and celebrity magazines. A guy working in the store said that the discount may get sweeter later on, however, as the liquidation progresses.
They do have SACDs, fo course, although this store never had the most complete SACD collection. SACDs are stored in the regular racks and are not segregated, so be prepared to browse.
With all the nostalgia arising from my memories of shopping there over the years (both at Tower and its predecessor, Rose Records)--and just because I prefer to shop in stores--I'll be very sad to see them go.
For the background, here's a link to the Washington Post story on Tower's demise:
that's exactly what it read like to me. Yeah they were overpriced and their stores were sometimes crowded (with merchandise) and you had to put up with listening to Bell Biv Devoe at too many decibels but damn it was cool to spend an hour or two cruising the bins and finding something interesting to listen to. Didn't have Tower in my berg so it was always a treat to find one in my travels. The only bricks and mortar store with more back catalog jazz was/is J&R Music in NYC.
Tower has always been a tool of the record industry...
Now, there's no reason to cry as they are unable to save their monopoly. There are plenty of indie record stores in Chicago, plenty of deals on line, and more importantly, - it's time to embrace new technology.
We should be rejoicing, that the good old free market, unhindered capitalism, - has won the day and is taking down these dinosaurs. They've stolen from consumers, and their artists for many years, - now they're getting their just desserts. All the while, those who have been bamboozled into believing that it's important to support price gouging, price collusion, pretense of copyright infringement, cheating artists of their royalties, and unfair tax shelters are going to cry about spending $20 for the latest CD version of Milly Vanilly...
Time to support labels like Six Degrees....
Yeah, it's easy to dismiss Tower as just some other corporate entity (I agree with you that they got greedy). And it's easy for people that are fortunate enough to have good indie record stores in their community to say good riddance. But, Tower wasn't always a corporate puppet (it became one after Russ Solomon let go of the reins). Some of the communities Tower is leaving are left with nothing but Wal Mart, Best Buy and Target (let's see how much deep catalogue, Jazz and Classical you find in these cultural wastelands). Sure, there is the internet where great deals can be found and everything is available. But for me, online shopping pales in comparison with spending a couple of hours browsing in a well stocked store with knowledgeable staff. It's as much a social experience as a shopping trip. Fortunately, I have an Amoeba Music a couple of miles from me (which is actually as expensive as Tower for new CD's) to fulfill my music shopping needs, but I do think Tower will be sorely missed in less metropolitan areas.
You in LA?
I have never seen a new CD priced at retail at either the SF Amoeba or the Berkeley Amoeba...
Yes, I'm in Los Angeles. I was actually referring to the sale pricing of new releases, not the price of new deep catalogue. Sorry, I should have stated that.
new releases at the Amoebas that I go to are always $14.99
my nostalgia is linked to the fact that for me the Wabash Rose Records was an unusual place to go, run by an engaging staff who knew their stock, and full of stuff that I could never see/hear in my local neighborhood. Going there was a mini-road-trip and the frat house shabby ambience was oddly comfortable; Rose was much more enjoyable to hang around in than Borders. Sitting in front of my laptop at home by myself, surfing the online music vendors, just isn't as much fun as a trip to the loop, even though the range of available music is probably much greater on the net that it was at the old Rose, and maybe cheaper, too. And, I predict that the sharks who have run the music business for the past few decades will eventually gain control of (embrace) the new distribution technologies and restore their sharp practices. Then again, maybe I'm just a crank and the younger generations will have the same broadening experience of music that I did, but in an entirely different way that I cannot yet imagine.
You have a point about Tower Records being ultimately just another player in league with the forces of music industry darkness, but I always enjoyed the dowdiness of the S. Wabash St. store. It almost seemed like they didn't realize they had become part of a nationwide chain. And if it weren't for the corporate dinosaurs and the remainder of their physical distribution network, we wouldn't even have DSD/SACD. At least the dinos could afford to invent it, develop it, and throw it out there for us.
And yes, there are still record stores in Chicago--Jazz Record Mart on East Illinois St. comes to mind. But as supporters of SACD/high resolution, I wonder just what new technology we should be embracing . . . aren't we still waiting for high resolution downloadable (maybe they could call it HRD)? And for the most part, aren't we still waiting for regular CD-resolution downloadable?
Tower was a business and like any other I suppose they were not saints. But There were plenty of good deals to be had during their departmental sales, label sales, and semi annual storewide clearance sales. There was also a sense of community I and others will miss. It might be a conversation you strike up with a fellow jazz shopper about the different musicians you like, and maybe suggest something to each other. Or maybe talking about how we each felt about Coltrane's later period with the guy who worked there and had a jazz show on public radio. Or maybe it was the guy in the blues department who turned me on to Lightning Hopkins. Or when Suzanne Vega gave a free in store concert (true it was to promote her new release, but no one was holding a gun to your head). It was this sense of community a good record store provides and something some of us will miss and may feel sad about. So please forgive us for prefering it. It was something I'll take over a cold mechanical download any day of the week.
Maybe not at your Tower, - but the second that one would walk in the door of my Tower, = you were just another mark, - someone to get ripped off by the industry....
Sounds like it was more of an Indy store...
There was never a sale worth squat at the one in SF on Market St, - only overpriced, ridiculous, industry tools...
You'd never find a knowledgable staff member at my Tower....
I'm sorry that you lost a good record store, - very un-Tower compared to the nightmare that is the SF store....
I guess there was some variance among each one. Ours was pretty good considering it was a chain store. I did notice some drop off in selection and the number of sales starting around the late 90's onwards. I consider Borders (which never has anything but certain selected discs on sale) to be a much bigger rip off than Tower was, and with an overall not as good selection. Luckily I got while the gettin was good (before the major biggies raised retail prices sharply to get more money in response to the supposed loss created by the whole Napster thing). These days my collection is about where I want it to be, but I'll still miss the occaisional trip to Tower.
There are a few indie record stores in southern California, not many.
With the demise of Tower, there are no places with halfway decent selections of classical music. Borders and Barnes and Noble have poor small selections.
You may find this a reason to rejoice, as the small market has not been enough to support retail stores, capitalism has triumphed, whatever.
The next step will be for the small classical record labels to go out of business, another triumph of capitalism.
And then the people who have tried to make a living playing music that is not popular can be driven by the forces of capitalism into a new career, maybe as mortgage bankers or some other job that the capitalist economy currently rewards.
sounds like the fact that classical music is dying... and that's another issue.
I am sorry that that is the case...
My statements about capitalism were more tongue in cheek than anything..
Tower Records, and the record companies that controlled it, - had plenty of opportunities to keep their business viable: greed, laziness, and stupidity killed it...
I go way back with the original Rose Records on Wabash. It was part of growing up on the South Side of Chicago and the store opened my eyes to a wider world through music. I cannot imagine that young people today will get as much out of internet downloads as I did browsing the bins there. The same slow die off in quality music stores has occurred where I live now, in Madison, WI. When I first moved here 20+ years ago, there were 5-6 pretty good record stores downtown just off the UW campus - all but one are gone and now the survivor devotes about half its floor space to videos. Fellows, I am affraid we may be dinosaurs.
mom and pop shops will always be there. Will they be similar to antique dealers? Perhaps. But, there will always be people who want vinyl, CDs, and SACDs, - even though the majority of people will be acquiring digital files.
People still buy vinyl, and even still use turntables...
Looks like we are a dying breed, it's a certain type of person that's a Tower regular. Guess there are'nt too many true music aficianados left. If that means dinosaur, I'm proud of it. Like yourself I learned alot about music just by discovering things there, and then I got books from them, and also the liner notes of some things would often lead me to another discovery. After awhile you begin to really understand all the different styles and influences of each type of music. Or the secrets of certain album artwork. And as audiophiles, you also pick up on things like recording venues and recording/mastering engineers, or the instruments and equipment. Most people now will never know any better (if they care to know at all).
Come now, - because people spend time browsing a record store that makes them a music aficionado?
If someone has 20 terabits of music on a server and listens to music 20 hours a day, - I would say that they are more of an aficionado than someone who spends time browsing through old vinyl...
All liner notes and such information is VASTLY limited and inferior than calling up a Google window....
"All liner notes and such information is VASTLY limited and inferior than calling up a Google window...."
...which frequently links you to the nonsense that self-styled I-have-a-platform-on-the-Internet gurus _think_ they know about music.
Most information on the internet (like most "history" on the history channel)is circular in nature; that is, it goes around and comes around from so many directions, all regurgitating what they've learned from the same sources, that it tends to corroborate and distill the essentials into canned "bite-sized" segments. In music, many of those original sources just happen to have been the liner notes on LP's.
any change is a loss for someone. The public, particularly the young public, has spoken and it is now pretty clear that silver discs, whatever flavor, will follow black vinyl ones in their move towards "niche-dom". The format of choice now the hard drive and quite frankly, I am puzzled as to why more high-end manufacturers have not embraced it as yet. Hard drives lack many of the jitter problems that plague CD/DVD transports and although most downloaded music today is compressed, there is no particular reason that it has to be.
My teenage kids prefer to listen to music on their cell phones despite the fact that they have access to a very nice system downstairs. Together they own a grand total of seven CD's. All the rest of their music is downloaded. A certain percentage of kids like them will become audiophiles. When they do, they will collect music the way they always have. They will legally download high resolution, uncompressed music from their favorite site and listen to it on a hard drive specially constructed for high audio quality. It will sound every bit as good as the music we listen to on SACD/DVD-A - maybe better. A second hard drive and maybe a third hard drive will serve as a backup and archive. The system itself will probably have mirrored drives for data redundancy.
Sordidman is right. The web provides far more information about an artist than the PR blurbs on the album cover and album art went the way of the buggy whip when they miniturized it to fit on the front of a CD. The new generation of audiophiles will continue to regard old farts like myself that like to accumulate plastic discs (both silver and black) with an amused tolerance.
how crazy is that???
So much better.......
my local tower records just closed without any announcement or sale.
Is this sale applicable to online orders? It seems that the online store is not having a sale. So it seems that the online operation is not affected by the bankrupcy proceedings (I hope so); or is it?
I don't know what's happening with the on-line store, or how it will be affected by the bankruptcy proceedings. I suppose they could do what has been done with other failed Internet businesses: someone else buys the logo and domain name and continues operation. They wouldn't need to offer any sales because the new owner behind the logo wouldn't be going bankrupt, they would just convert it into another on-line music retailer.
Some genres were already at 20% off, like jazz and most other non-rock pop stuff. Classical was still at 15%, as was rock. (This was at the main SF store.) I've also heard that the discounts will get steeper as the weeks go on. And, I've heard that the liquidating agency will be closing several stores immediately (probably the smaller ones) and moving the stock to still-open stores.
I will also be very sad to see Tower close; it was an institution (particularly here in Northern California, where it started), and I've spent many, many enjoyable hours shopping there over the past couple of decades or so.
Depressing. I have been going to the Tower washington DC store for 20 years and the Rockville MD for about 10 years. I have many memories of Tower. It is where I saw Suzzane Vega Perform and I brought an Lp of her first album, which she signed for me. I used to go in to the classical or Jazz department in the early 90's and the next thing I knew 2 hours had gone by. Most of the people who ran the departments had a vast knowledge and appreciation for the music. The guy in the blues department helped me out alot. I stopped into the store for the liquidation (I had'nt been there in awhile) and went through and picked up a DVD or two which I seem to collect more than cd's these days, and thinking it was just a going out of business sale. But it was later when I walked around the classical and jazz music area that I felt a little lump well up in my throat. Something died and I was feeling it. When I got home I acknowledged that the days of the bright yellow and red bags of goodies were gone forever. If the present course is any indication, eventually nothing will have any character or personality.
I'm assuming the Chicago stores went to 15% off recently also. But this only brings their prices close to what on-line discounters and the big-box stores charge every day. And remember, no returns or exchanges at Tower now. Even if the item is defective you are stuck with it. I'll go back only when they're offering 40% off.
The loss of Tower leaves Fry's as the only Chicagoland retailer that stocks a halfway decent selection of SACDs. And I have to stress "halfway", because they have not been restocking with the latest titles for several months. They have lots of "trash" like the old Sony single layer stereo titles.
BTW: It's not really set up as a retail store (it's a mail-order business), but Music Direct will let you into their warehouse to peruse their large selection of SACDs, DVD-As, lps and CDs if you ring their buzzer. The warehouse is on the near West side of Chicago.
When I went by the store in San Mateo, the sign there said 15 - 30% off. So I'm guessing the music discs would be 15% off.
Got new Danny Elfman SACD 20% off of MSRP because it was classical. Otherwise, 15% off on pop CDs at Dublin Tower.
I'm currently listening to one of the three (3) SACDs I picked up ( John Pizzarelli "My Blue Heaven"). I'll return in a few weeks when everythings 40-50% off and maybe I'll get lucky on a few heretofore overpriced SACDs.
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