Sunday, December 24, 2006

Scavenging the Cooling Corpse of Tower Records

When we last left my very manly Sunday (two weeks ago), I was on my way home from the canceled Over the Rhine show at Jammin' Java.

Driving home on Route 7, I passed by the Tower Records and saw the "Going Out of Business" sale signs:


I'd thought they'd already been liquidated, so feeling a powerful mix of nostalgia, curiosity, and bargain lust, I pulled a U-turn.

I hadn't been to that particular Tower in a while, but I always liked going, especially when I worked in Vienna, because:
  • It was open until midnight
  • The listening stations were okay (they lacked a fast-forward, though). It was where they would showcase their featured CDs, which were usually loss-leaders and thus, relatively non-overpriced
  • The magazine section, of course, was pretty good
  • It was two doors down from the Ranger Surplus Army-Navy store.
So I'd spent my fair share of time and money there in the past -- though there were plenty of occasions where I would just go in, browse for a little bit, grab a free City Paper and leave.

They were in their last 10 days (which means they're toast now), and as the sign said, "Sorry, we have NO new releases":

No New Releases

Inside, the shelves were pretty bare:


CDs were 60% off, DVDs 50%, magazines 90%. This, of course, meant that for the first time, Tower was selling reasonably priced merchandise.

The bare shelves and the fixtures tagged for sale made it a pretty depressing scene -- you can check out the DCist article that came out a week after I went (Tower Bids Final, Low-Priced Farewell), as well as the Post article (For Tower Records, End of Disc) -- they both have the tone and substance captured pretty well.

My purchasing calculus went like this: At 60% off, it made new CDs slightly cheaper than trying to buy them used. Not sure if they still got SoundScan credit, though.

I could have waited a few more days to get a deeper discount (20%, as it turned out), but I didn't feel like losing out, especially after an hour or so scavenging.

I ended up buying 10 CDs. The first two were 2 bucks each; the rest averaged around 7 bucks per, so the final damage was about $66:


I pretty much stuck to artists with whom I had at least some familiarity, and I ended up with:
  • Dada, How to Be Found
  • Banco de Gaia, You Are Here (At 2 bucks, I took a flyer on it. There are a couple of good tracks on it, I'm going to have to give it a deeper listen.)
  • Durutti Column, The Best of (This one's for you, Biffko. Well, figuratively, anyway.)
  • Josh Rouse, Subtitulo (I think I actually read the Pitchfork Media review for this one, which savages it, but I have one of his other albums and saw him open for Cowboy Junkies, so I got it anyway.)
  • JunkieXL, Today
  • Air, Moon Safari
  • The Heartless Bastards, All This Time (I'd first heard about them on All Things Considered; I was listening to this in the car during the drive; it's really good)
  • The Donnas, Gold Medal (I can't be certain from the spine, but I'm pretty sure that's it) Update: Okay, I was completely wrong; The Donnas was a previous purchase from the CD Cellar; that CD is Mojave 3, Puzzles Like You
  • The Charlatans UK, Simpatico
  • Shonen Knife, Genki Shock (Come on, it's Shonen Knife)
So it was a pretty fruitful trip.

I'm going to miss Tower, though vulturing the liquidation sale brought me back to New York, where across the street from the Tower records at West 4th, there was a Tower Clearance Outlet that had some really random stuff (including dirt cheap pr0n DVDs -- score!) upstairs. It used to be a staple of my NYC visits.

Anyway, I wonder what's going to end up in that space.


ShanePBK said...

Tower is still up and running in Dublin. Still, it pales in comparison to Tower and Amoeba in San Francisco. Have a great holiday!

Joelogon said...

There's just something about a good record store. (And then there was Tower.) -- Joe

Anonymous said...

I worked at that store up until the end. Thank you for your kind words about it.

Joelogon said...

Spent a lot of time there... lots of good memories. Thanks. -- Joe