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Tower Records
Tower Records Sunset
Hollywood, California (USA)
Type Music retailer
Founded 1960
Headquarters Sacramento, California, USA
Industry Retail
Products DVDs, CDs, videos, video games, posters, books, collectibles, and accessories.
Website Tower.com
retail music chain

Tower Records is a retail music chain that was based in Sacramento, California, USA. It currently exists as an international franchise and an online music store.

From 1960 until 2006, Tower also operated retail stores in the United States, which closed when Tower Records filed for bankruptcy and liquidation. Tower.com was purchased by a separate entity and was not affected by the retail store closings. Seven Tower Records stores still operate in Columbia, five in Mexico, two in Ireland, one in Malaysia,and a number in Israel and Japan.

History Edit

Tower was founded in 1960 by Russ Solomon in Sacramento, California. The store was named after his father's drugstore, which shared a building and name with the Tower Theater, where Solomon first started selling records. The first Tower Records store was opened in 1960 on Watt Avenue in Sacramento.Seven years after its founding, Tower Records expanded to San Francisco, opening a store in what was originally a grocery store at Bay and Columbus streets. The chain eventually expanded internationally to include stores in Canada, UK, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Ireland, Israel, UAE, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Argentina. The store also established Tower Records stores in Japan, but those stores split off from the main chain and are now independent. Arguably the most famous Tower Records outlet was the one located on the north side of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, California. Across the street was the Tower Video store, also closed in 2006. In addition to CDs and cassette tapes, stores also sold DVDs, PSP movies, video games, accessories, toys and electronic gadgets like mp3 players, while a few Tower Records locations sold books as well, such as the stores in Brea, California, Nashville, Portland, and Sacramento. In New York City, Tower Records operated a suite of stores on and near lower Broadway. The main store was located at the southwest corner of East 4th St and Broadway, consisted of 4 levels, and sold mainstream items. The Tower Records Annex was in the same building, but located 'in the back' at the southwest corner of East 4th St and Lafayette, and stocked items that were older and a bit more obscure (As the CD replaced the LP, vinyl moved from the main store to the annex). The third store was called Tower Video, and was located on the southeast corner of East 4th St and Lafayette. This store specialized, as the name implies, in video. The main store in the East Village was famous in the 1980s for selling albums of European New Wave bands not yet popular in the U.S. and was a noted hangout for teenagers from throughout the metropolitan area.

The company published a music magazine, Pulse!, which was distributed free in its stores.

Tower Records stores dropped vinyl record albums beween 1990 and 1991.

In 2005, the company began using "scan and listen" stations in its stores. These stations allowed customers to scan a CD and listen to audio samples from the disc, as well as allowed them to be able to search for particular songs/albums/artists/etc. While Tower has since gone out of business, the same model stations are still used at Arizona-based chain Zia Records.

In 2006, the company introduced the Tower Insider program. The program was free of charge and allowed the customer to receive a membership card which could be scanned with each purchase, allowing the customer to receive coupons and notification of special deals via e-mail.

Bankruptcy Edit

Tower Records entered bankruptcy for the first time in 2004. Factors cited were the heavy debt incurred during its aggressive expansion in the 1990s, growing competition from mass discounters, and internet piracy. Mismanagement, managerial incompetence, and crippling restrictions from the first bankruptcy deal also contributed to Tower's demise.

While some may mourn the demise of Tower's dominance, others have taken a somewhat more pragmatic view. As Robert Moog, inventor of the Moog synthesizer, has stated: "I'm sorry if Tower Records' and Blockbuster's sales plummet. On the other hand, it wasn't that long ago that those megastore chains drove a lot of neighborhood record stores out of business."

The debt was quantified to be between $100,000,000 and $80,000,000; whilst assets were quantified at just over $100,000,000 during the February of 2004 .

Liquidation Edit

On August 20, 2006, Tower Records filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time in order to facilitate a purchase of the company prior to the holiday shopping season.

On October 6, 2006, Great American Group won an auction of the company's assets and commenced liquidation proceedings the following day, which included going-out-of-business sales at all U.S. Tower Records locations, the last of which closed on December 22, 2006. The Tower Records website was sold separately.

FYE, a mall-based music store chain, had acquired the two historic Tower locations in its home base of Sacramento, California but later backed out, stating that the "leases aren't what we thought they were". FYE did acquire the lease of the West End Avenue store in Nashville, Tennessee. Rasputin Music, a new/used music/video store based in the Bay Area, is expanding in the Central Valley by acquiring the leases on the Tower stores in Fresno, California and Stockton, California. Tower Records' Stockton, California location at 6623 Pacific Avenue officially closed its doors on December 19, 2006 at 10PM for good. Rasputin Music replaced it on April 28, 2007. Rasputin also moved into Tower's former Mountain View, California location and has moved their Pleasant Hill, California location to Tower's former Concord, California location.

The Landmark Plaza location in Alexandria, VA was closed on December 18, 2006 and the Pike 7 Plaza (Tysons Corner) location in Vienna, Virginia was closed on December 21, 2006. The famous 24-year-old Washington, D.C. location closed a day later, as did the one in Atlanta at the famous Piedmont and Peachtree Road location. On Friday, December 22, 2006 its last New York City outlet, located on 1961 Broadway, just a block north of the famous Lincoln Center on Manhattan's West Side, closed its doors along with the remaining outlets around the United States.

The building was a Tower store for 40 years, closing when the legendary chain went out of business in late December, and sits across the street from the site where Solomon began selling records in 1941. In October, Solomon dubbed his new venture Resurrection Records. Andy Gianulias said Solomon may choose a different name. "No way do I have the grandiose idea I can open 100 stores," Solomon said. "That would be foolish. But one or two stores? That's doable." As of May 2007 the former Tower Records at Broadway in Sacramento is being transformed into Russ Solomon's R5 Records.

Return Edit

On-line merchant Caiman Inc. recently re-launched the website from its location in the Montreal area on June 1, 2007. It also plans to re-launch the stores themselves—opening stores in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco within the next nine months. They even hired former buyer Kevin Hawkins to assist with the re-opening. Hawkins, however, along with former Tower employee George Scarlett, has since left Caiman. The Web site remains based in Montreal, Canada but the departure of these two employees leaves some doubt as to whether the relaunch of the brand will move forward.

Duran Duran Edit

Duran Duran performed a live worldwide broadcast from Tower Records in Hollywood, California (USA) on 15 May 1993. The show was beamed simultaneously to fans in London, Sidney and Tokyo and shown at those city's Hard Rock Cafes.

United Kingdom Edit

Originally Tower Records was just a London-based concern, with a first store in Kensington High Street in 1984 being followed the next year by a 25,000 square foot flagship outlet at 1 Piccadilly Circus and later two more smaller outlets at Whiteleys in Bayswater, and Kingston. However by the start of the 1990s the chain had grown to encompass a number of other stores, with large entertainment stores also selling movies, books, magazines and games in Birmingham and Glasgow, as well as a number of smaller stores that had been purchased from rival American retailer Sam Goody when it had left the UK marketplace (for example of this express format—Weston-super-Mare).

However with tough trading conditions in the UK market, as well as the company's trouble in the States, the firm followed Sam Goody in retreating from the UK market. The London stores in Piccadilly and Kensington were sold to Virgin Group in 2003, who for a while traded under the Tower brand at the former site until the store could be fully refurbished, while the other stores were closed. The store was subsequently re-named Zavvi September 2007 after a management buy out of the Virgin Megastores. The Piccadilly store closed on Wednesday the 14th of January 2009 by the administrators.

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