Needless to say I'm not at all sad to see Tower go. For the last ten years or so, they had the highest prices of any record store in town, and one of the worst selections. Long before Apple done thunk up the iTunes Music Store, there was an online battle of the e-tailers to see who'd dominate the market for music. Tower spent a long time throwing millions and millions of dollars at the problem, thinking up baroque e-commerce sites that didn't really work and all the while raising prices to cover their R&D costs. About the only good thing to come out of all of that was a signed copy of an Art of Noise CD that was released at tower.com only. Given that I haven't bought anything at Tower since, oh, 2001 or so (probably a DVD from the San José store), I won't miss the place.
However, it's hard to forget that Tower was a very important part of my childhood. I grew up in Stockton, California - and Tower got its start in Sacramento, about an hour north of my house. There was also a Tower in Stockton, next to Yen Ching restaurant, the Chinese restaurant where my family ate a fair number of wonderful dinners (never mind that I didn't understand that the ubiquitous kimchi meant that they must have been Korean - the food was great, and I still dream of their mu shu pork sometimes). My very first record buying experiences all happened there (save for a copy of ABBA: The Album bought from GEMCO, but I don't like to talk about that). I remember an 8-track of The Muppet Movie, a 7" of "Love on the Rocks" - and a bunch of other stuff. When I somehow managed to get $50 in seventh grade or so, I disappeared from home one afternoon, riding my bike ten miles or so to get to that shop just to buy a cassette of A BROKEN FRAME. (I'm pretty sure the money was supposed to be held in my savings account forever, but I knew I could get away with running off and talking the bank manager into letting me at the money.)
As I grew older, I got my first full time job in the summer of 1987 - I worked at Thrifty Drug, where I restocked the feminine hygiene products, ran a cash operator, and performed a host of other odd jobs (including dusting the Scotch, which was so old that it was still packaged in fifths, not 750 mL packages. Every two weeks I'd get my paycheck - I think it was well under $200 for two weeks' work - and then I'd ask to borrow the car so that I could drive up to Sacramento to see what I could find at Tower; they had five or so stores up there, and I'd inevitably find super cool awesome stuff up there that I could never, ever find in Stockton. That Psychic TV picture disc with Genesis's daughter on it? Check. Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel 12" singles? Check. They pretty much had it all, and I don't remember spending my hard earned money on anything other than music.
That's all gone now, but so is my childhood and all of my Thrifty Drug money. Tower, there was a time and a place for you, but it's no surprise you'll be gone in 2007. Happy New Year.
Final haul: CDs from Casino Royale, Superchumbo, Gene Defcon, Stephen Duffy & The Lilac Time, The Panic Channel, Erase Errata, Default, Jarboe, The Darkness. Total cost: $15.12 with tax.