No, this isn’t a review of the Quruli best collection. Tower Records files for bankruptcy.
The news story gets into the details of this particularly filing, which follows another filing back in 2004. The usual reasons are mentioned — competition from downloading and low-balling by big-box retailers.
Perhaps even more disheartening is the fact Tower is selling its three Honolulu stores. In the same way kids in small towns depended on Wal-Mart for their music retail, Tower was the only place I could get my hands on the (relatively) weird stuff I listened to in my youth. I pretty much grew up in the Honolulu stores.
(Don’t talk to me about Jelly’s. They were good for college rock in the ’80s, but they didn’t have much in the way of classical, especially 20th Century.)
I was a Tower devotee until I moved to Austin, where I discovered Waterloo Records. That’s when I realized how charmless Tower stores really were. Austin had a Tower location next to the University of Texas campus, but it closed during the company’s first round of bankruptcy proceedings. The shopping experience between Waterloo and Tower was no comparrison.
Tower seems more suitable for incredibly large metropolitan areas. I’ve been to ones in New York and Boston.
I spent a lot of time at the Tower on Broadway and 4th when I lived in New York City, ca. 1992-1993, and the one by Lincoln Center can make classical music fans wet their pants.
Tower is also a major presence in Japan. This site owes its entire existence to Bounce magazine.
Part of me doesn’t want to see Tower Records go away, but part of me would also like to see Tower Records in its current form become history. I wish the smaller stores themselves didn’t feel so corporate, but the homey feel of a Waterloo Records can’t be bottled and franchised.
(When I worked at Waterloo in 2002, people from North Austin would ask all the time if or when Waterloo would open up another location. I never knew any official reason why there wasn’t a second location. I still don’t.)
And for the kids in Honolulu just awakening to music, go bug your parents for a high-speed Internet connection if you don’t have one already.