I'll be the first to admit that I'm not an avid buyer of music. But like most average Americans teens in the 80s, I bought my fair share of records/cassettes from the local store - usually Wherehouse Records in Milpitas. Every once in a while, I signed up for membership for BMG or Columbia House - you know the ones: pay $.01 for 10 albums (and I mean albums) and you only have to buy 5 at the regular price within the next two years.
But every once in a while, that obscure song/record would come along that you simply couldn't find at your local music store. Obscure songs like "Oh, Yeah" by Yello, or "Din Da Da". (I would like to thank my years of color guard for introducing me to non-mainstream music - brownie points for "Name that Color Guard!").
When it came to music of obscurity, there was only one store to go to: Tower Records. If they didn't have it, no one would. We would make the drive from Milpitas to Campbell on the hunt to find the elusive albums. (and again, I do mean album)
When I moved to San Francisco in 1995, my school was a mere block away from the Tower Records store located on Columbus and Bay. It wasn't until I read this article in SFgate.com that I learned that this was the first Tower Records store in San Francisco (only the second in the chain, after the first store in Sacramento).
When we came home from vacation last week, I noticed signs posted on windows of the Tower Records on Market @ Noe Street: "Going out of Business", "Everything on Sale", etc., Dick and I like to go into the store everyone's in a while to browse, and maybe buy an occasional CD, although we never made a habit out of it. Although we didn't shop there very often, it was always nice to know that "it was there".
In the days of Amazon.com, and the internet in general, it was just a matter of time before the brick and mortar businesses like Tower would be forced out of business. It's a shame, really. From my experience, Tower Records were always alive with people: shoppers and employees, and it always seemed like the employees really knew their stuff.
Farewell, Tower Records.
It's like saying goodbye to an old friend.