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Tower Records - to be liquidated (and rise again)

07 Oct 06 - 03:32 PM (#1852888)
Subject: Tower Records
From: Thomas Stern

This link was posted on the ARSC list. closing tower records
Like Sam Goody, it used to be a good store, but has
been on the decline for years. It looks like
online stores now become the only source for
a wide range of music.

07 Oct 06 - 03:35 PM (#1852891)
Subject: RE: Tower Records
From: Clinton Hammond

Given that NO store could POSSIBLY stock music the way an onoine store can, it's no surprise...

Give it a few years and Blockbuster will follow.... Everything will be downloadable on demand.

Then we'll really be cooking with gas

07 Oct 06 - 04:53 PM (#1852935)
Subject: RE: Tower Records
From: Joe Offer

I think it's worthwhile to post the Associated Press story that sternth linked to. Tower Records was founded by Russ Solomon in Sacramento in 1960. He started out by selling records in his father's drugstore in the Tower Theater, and then opened his own store on Watt Avenue in another part of town. Later, he opened a store across the street from the theater; and that became separate book, music, and video stores, all on the same site on Broaday at 16th Street in Sacramento. That location is what I consider to be the ultimate Tower Records store, although I suppose the Hollywood store and some others are better-known. Outside of Sacramento, Tower seemed to be just another big, glitzy record store. The two main Sacramento stores (the original store on Watt, and the Broadway store) retained the original Tower funkiness, and the store managers had local control over the music and books they stocked. Those two stores had all kinds of music and books that you just couldn't find anywhere else. Well, I suppose you can find it at the online stores, but it just isn't the same. Even the Sacramento stores went downhill in the last ten years, so maybe there's not much left to be lost in the liquidation.

Tower has also been known to be an excellent employer, one that treated employees fairly and provided fair wages and good benefits. It's sad to see Tower go, but it's especially sad for Sacramento. The headline on today's Sacramento Bee is The Song Is Over. It's too bad, but Tower Records, as it once was, died about ten years ago.

Here's the article:

Group plans to liquidate Tower Records
By RANDALL CHASE, AP Business Writer
Fri Oct 6, 7:16 PM ET

After a lengthy auction stretching over two days, a federal bankruptcy judge on Friday approved the sale of California-based Tower Records to Great American Group, which plans to liquidate the music retailer.

After almost 30 hours of what attorneys described as "robust" and "vigorous" bidding, Great American won with a bid of $134.3 million, beating Trans World Entertainment, which had hoped to continue operating at least some Tower stores, by a single bid increment of $500,000.

Peter Gurfein, an attorney representing Tower Records, said the company will be sold for an aggregate of $150 million, including the sale of various leases and properties.

Gurfein said Great American plans to begin the liquidation process and going out of business sales on Saturday, which eventually will result in the elimination of the jobs of some 3,000 Tower employees.

"This is not an easy decision," said bankruptcy Judge Brendan Shannon, who nevertheless noted that the Tower debtors and other parties had agreed the bidding process was conducted fairly and in good faith.

Tower Records, which has 89 stores in 20 states and owes creditors about $200 million, filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in August. In its filing, the company said it has been hurt by an industrywide decline in music sales, downloading of online music and competition from big-box stores such as Wal-Mart.

Tower's Chapter 11 filing came two years after initial reorganization that resulted in bondholders forgiving millions of dollars in debt but taking an 85 percent stake in the company, leaving founder Russ Solomon and his family with 15 percent.

Solomon founded Tower in Sacramento, Calif., in 1960, starting by selling records out of his father's drug store and eventually opening the company's landmark store on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard in 1969. As part of the bankruptcy auction, the Sunset property will be sold for $12 million.

Michael Bloom, an attorney representing Tower's secured trade creditors, urged Shannon to consider the closeness of the bids and the effect that liquidation would have before deciding whether to approve the sale.

"We can save this company or we can liquidate it," Bloom argued. "... Sometimes, the highest bid is not the best bid. In this case, your honor, we believe the best bid is the Trans World bid."

Trans World, which has about 1,100 mostly mall-based stores nationwide, has recently acquired other music retailers such as Sam Goody and Wherehouse Music, consolidating most of its acquisitions under the FYE name, which stands for For Your Entertainment.

Tim Pohl, an attorney representing Trans World, asked the judge whether $500,000 was "a material enough difference" to liquidate a company, as opposed to keeping thousands of people employed.

But Jay Indyke, an attorney for Great American, said Trans World and its bidding partners had discussed liquidating inventory and closing about two dozen Tower stores, and that they would not say how many stores they would continue to operate.

07 Oct 06 - 05:05 PM (#1852944)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: GUEST,Tunesmith

I think that all record shops are probably doomed because of Amazon, supermarkets, illegal copying etc, But I don't think they helped themselves with some of their policies; for example, I was once in Tower Records, Piccadlly Circus, London looking in the new age section but the inhouse music was so loud that I couldn't think what I'd come in for - I think I was after a George Winston album.

07 Oct 06 - 05:13 PM (#1852949)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Joe Offer

The original Watt Avenue store in Sacramento was remodeled about ten or fifteen years ago. It has a separate, soundproof room for "adult" music (classical and pop vocals - folk is with the teenager music, and it's not a good selection), and a wonderful bookstore two doors down. Besides, there's a Hofbrau in the shopping center that has a great pastrami sandwich, and pretty good prices on draft beer.
The Broadway store in Sacramento has all kinds of music in the same room, but the folk section has been very weak in the last ten years. When the Broadway store was at its best, the music playing was stuff that would be of interest to most customers - I was introduced to Stan Rogers and Loreena McKennitt by CD's I heard in that Tower Records store.
The Fisherman's Wharf branch of Tower Records in San Francisco has a separate building for classical music, and it's the nicest classical music store I've ever seen - I think the Hollywood store also has a separate building for classical music.
Looks like it's all over for Tower. I has been sold to a liquidation firm, not to a company that wants to keep the stores open. The closing sales for Tower begin today.

07 Oct 06 - 05:39 PM (#1852970)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Ron Davies


Amen. Interesting that you would observe that in a UK store. Jan and I have always had the same experience every time we went to a Tower location here in the Washington DC area. We had to rush as fast as possible through the first section--since the godawful music they played was so loud--to get to the classical section.

By this attitude, Tower has insured that we bought very few country and oldies CD's there--which we might well have bought--and instead buy LOTS online.

i-Tunes has also been devastating for Tower--and other bricks-and -mortar operations---since with i-Tunes you can cherry-pick to your heart's content--get only the songs you want--and make your own CD's.

But, as you state, Tower's own policies hastened its demise.

07 Oct 06 - 05:43 PM (#1852971)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Ron Davies

I still, however, buy some CD's from Borders--which has a much more civilized attitude toward the buying experience--as well as knowledgeable staff--something I never found at Tower.

07 Oct 06 - 05:50 PM (#1852974)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Ron Davies

Actually, I've found by far the best way to get anything remotely considered folk--including Western swing, 30s and 40s calypso etc.--is our own CAMSCO. Excellent service, excellent prices.

None of the bricks and mortar stores could ever compete.

07 Oct 06 - 06:22 PM (#1852988)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Bill Hahn//\\

HOw things change. Local libraries in my area have a selection equivalent to the inventory at Tower and other such stores. Same goes for Videos (DVDs now).

There is, however, one type of store that will flourish and there is one in my area---a small video store that stocks about every film ever made. Not just the pop stuff one finds at Blockbuster. Also--the owner is knowledgeable in all genres of film and likes to discuss them with you.

Now for a bit of nostalgia. How times change---this gives away my age (or era)---while growing up there were record stores (78s at the time) and you could take a batch into a private room to listen---and hopefully buy some (all of 79 cents or so at the time). No headphones then---just a turntable (steel needle - or cactus) and a speaker.

Bill Hahn

07 Oct 06 - 09:37 PM (#1853090)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: johnross

Tower Records was the last survivior of the time twenty or thirty years ago, when most records (LPs in those days) were sold through distributors called "rack jobbers" who sold nothing but the top selling titles.
Tower and the long-departed Discount Records chains were created or encouraged by the major record labels as places that would have extensive inventories of backlist -- if you wanted something like a five-year-old title by the Modern Jazz Quartet, or a Vivaldi concerto played on original instruments on the Archiv label, or something out of the Folkways catalog, or even a non-current record by Perry Como or Hank Snow, those stores were the place to go. And they allowed the labels to keep that stuff in print and maybe make a small profit on them.

But today, you go to the online retailers like CCMusic and Amazon for backlist, or you download music files. There's no need for expensive inventory in hundreds of separate stores.

It's sad, but the big stores have outlived their useful places in the retail food chain. But on the positive side, with Tower gone, the smaller specialty stores will have less competition.

08 Oct 06 - 01:55 AM (#1853139)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: dick greenhaus

I trust that CAMSCO Music and similar specialist retailers will continue to have a place. Some knowledge of what you're selling can evem be helpful at times, and prices (CAMSCO's, at least) are competitive with giants like Amazon.

08 Oct 06 - 04:02 AM (#1853160)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Joe Offer

So, this evening, I went to the liquidation sale at the original Tower store on Watt Avenue in Sacramento. The place was packed. Books were 20 percent off at the bookstore, and CD's were ten percent off at the record store two doors down.
That brought the priced almost down to what Amazon charges. No bargains at Tower - yet.

08 Oct 06 - 11:07 AM (#1853294)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Gorgeous Gary

Even Amazon isn't all-encompassing yet. I know I've seen CDs on CAMSCO's table that didn't come up in Amazon searches. (Martin Wyndham-Read comes to mind.)

I shall have to check out Tower myself this weekend. Sounds like another opportunity to pad out my classic rock collection. Which is about all I ever used Tower for anyway--their $7.99 and $9.99 CD sales. Borders is closer for my new-CD purchases.

-- Gary

08 Oct 06 - 11:30 AM (#1853303)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Liz the Squeak

I'm presuming you mean 'put into liquidation' rather than 'being liquidated' which means something entirely different here....

'Put into liquidation' is when a failing company is taken over by an official receiver and its assets sold off to pay the debts...

'Liquidated' usually means being taken out (rubbed out, finished off, wasted, taken down, snuffed, topped, murdered, killed) in a professional and emotionless manner...

Actually... not really that much difference.

If their debts are massive, then selling stock at stupidly low prices isn't going to help them out at all. If you ever get the urge to go to a 'bankrupt stock' sale, check out the financial position first. The bigger the debt, the less likely there are to be bargains.


08 Oct 06 - 08:54 PM (#1853655)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

Sorry to cut your profits short Mr. D.G.

When I purchase, and I do, from the direct MUSCIAN/CREATOR I know that CAMSCO and AMTRAD make no money...I do know that my friends can afford a burger for their kids.

Sorry to push you and Susan onto the back-burner....whoever, the DT, and midi rested on Maximus Laurelus for too long.



podcasting for three years - it makes busking look tame.

08 Oct 06 - 09:49 PM (#1853690)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: dick greenhaus

Purchase from whom you will. Anyone has the right to pay more.

09 Oct 06 - 12:54 PM (#1854181)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Greg B

Tower could have changed...they chose not to.

They could easily have remained 'the neighborhood record shop'
while being able to get anything you wanted in a day or two.

After all, they had the warehouses and the distribution mechanisms
already in place.

They simply chose not to do it to compete with

I haven't darkend a Tower Records doorstep in over a decade,
but from what I recall their kind policies to empolyees were
rewarded with employees who smoked two joints, came to work,
listened to records, occasionally acknowledged a customer,
and didn't bother to learn anything about music that wasn't
'their' music--- which at the time was basically goth/punk/

"Their brains were small and they died."

12 Oct 06 - 12:11 PM (#1856964)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated

Bad mouth Tower all you want, bottom line is 3000 people will be losing their jobs, their insurance, their livelyhood. Good, so you saved a few bucks buying from Amazon .. maybe lots of buck downloading illegally online. I am glad you can sit back all smug while 3000 people have no idea what they will do. Some will stay and go down with the ship .. the ones most loyal. Some will jump off one can blame them a bit.

So as you watch and wait like vultures for the prices to decline. Just know those people behind the counter are facing a uncertain future .. they are losing a home where they spent 8 hours a day .. they are losing the tight knit friends they have come to know .. they are losing it all.

Farewell Tower .. and best of luck all you Tower employees.

13 Oct 06 - 05:06 AM (#1857598)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Pauline L

OMG! What a tragedy! I knew something was strange when I read that Tower was going to start selling things like refrigerators.

I just checked and there was no mention of closing. I buy a lot of out-of-print classical music recordings from, and they carry a lot of them that no one else -- including -- does. Should I buy the items on my wish list at the website now?

13 Oct 06 - 05:19 AM (#1857610)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Pauline L

BTW, Ron, I have found the staff at the Tower in Rockville to be reasonably knowledgeable about classical music. They also have good sales there. The website has/had some very good sales, too.

13 Oct 06 - 05:40 AM (#1857627)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Joe Offer

hi, Pauline - I understand that was sold separately and will continue to operate - I see it has a Sacramento (916) telephone number, so I wonder if that means that some Sacramento Tower employees will continue to have employment.

13 Oct 06 - 02:05 PM (#1858026)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Pauline L

Thanks for the good news, Joe. It's a great resource, and I'd hate to lose it.

13 Oct 06 - 09:08 PM (#1858377)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Joe Offer

There's a front-page story in today's Sacramento Bee that says that Tower Records founder Russ Solomon says he is "busy as hell" finding investors and putting together a one- or two-store retail music business, to be called "Resurrection Records" - Solomon is 81, but still going strong. For old times' sake, I hope he succeeds. The best aspects of Tower Records were pretty darn good, especially here in the Sacramento area.
The business section says that the Tower Website has been sold to Norton LLC of San Francisco, which produces the rock music radio show King Biscuit Flower Hour. Norton also owns a large collection of rock memorabilia and concert recordings accumulated by promoter Bill Graham. the Website will apparently be the only entity with the Tower trademark to survive the liquidation. Transfer of ownership of the Website hasn't taken place yet, but now it's ready to happen.


22 Oct 06 - 01:38 PM (#1865747)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - rise again?
From: GUEST,Dave

I used to work at Tower in Manhattan. I always wanted to go back. I would like to work at one of their Latin America stores. What is happening with them? They are seperate but have the Tower Trademark?
Who owns the trademark? It would seem that Tower will reinvent its self and rise again. Perhaps it made sense to dump what they had aND start afresh. Any ideas folks?


16 Dec 06 - 05:41 AM (#1910863)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: Joe Offer

Well, I paid a final visit to two of the Tower stores in Sacramento, including the original store on Watt Avenue. The bookstores closed today, and the record stores will close sometime next week. CD's were 70% off and DVD's were 60% off. 60 percest off the usual $24.95 Tower list price is often about what I pay for DVD's at Amazon, so I didn't find many bargains. Still, it was nice to stop in one last time.
The two stores have been leased to another recod company, but it sounds like it will sell mostly top-40 stuff.
Sacramento has always been proud of Tower. It's a shame it's almost gone.

16 Dec 06 - 11:15 AM (#1911037)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated
From: GUEST,Tom Nelligan

Last night I too made a farewill visit, in my case to the Tower store in Harvard Square, Cambridge, which once had a strong folk section. What was left of the CD stock was 70% off but it was thoroughly picked over like a long-dead animal carcass and I found nothing of interest. I assume it will close in the next few days.

On-line shopping can never replace the experience of flipping through racks of CDs (or, in ancient times, records) and stumbling across an unexpected find. Just one more small way in which the world becomes a poorer place...

16 Dec 06 - 12:20 PM (#1911086)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to be liquidated

It seems that big chain record stores are doomed. However, where I live there is a small indepenent store called Madrigal and it is doing very well because it stocks a huge variety of music but very little current pop stuff, which is most of what gets downloaded. I but evrything there because I believe we must support loxcal small business. But I am sorry about those who will find themselves out of work. The local HMV here is a shadow of its former self aND THERE NEVER SEEMS TO BE ANYONE IN THERE. i WONDER IF THEY WON'T BE NEXT.Sorry for the caps, brain malfuntion.

24 Feb 07 - 04:08 PM (#1978274)
Subject: RE: Tower Records - to rise again
From: Joe Offer

I drive by the old Tower Records location on Broadway in Sacramento every week or two, and it's sad to see it empty. A couple of weeks ago, somebody put a big, red-and-yellow banner on the store. The banner reads:
    Thanks Russ. You're still our hero.
-addressing 81-yr-old Russ Solomon, who founded Tower Records in his father's drugstore in the Tower Theater building across the street from the Broadway store.

On February 17, Russ Solomon signed a five-year lease for the old Broadway store, which had been a Tower Records store for 40 years. Solomon will start paying rent in March, and intends to open a record store at the location in April. The working name for the new store is "Resurrection Records," but that may change. I suppose it can't be Tower Records, and that's a shame - the store is the center of what's called the Tower District in Sacramento, named after the theater and the record store. Solomon plans to open one or two stores in Sacramento - nothing more.

I'm hoping for a funky, interesting store like Tower Records used to be, before it went "corporate" in the 1990's and dropped its folk music section down to almost nothing. I wish Mr. Solomon the best of luck. He's had a wonderful reputation, both as a generous employer and as a member of the community in Sacramento.