Residents reel from Tower’s loss

Record store was ‘part of community,’ customer says as liquidation news spreads

When Tower Records closes its doors, it will be the end of an era for Bill Richards.

The Oakland native used to go down to the famed record store, with its bright yellow sign covered in red letters, to search for gospel albums and jazz LPs when it first opened in Berkeley.

“I can remember it myself from back in the day, it was the first major, major record place you could go to,” Richards said. “I am sad to see it go myself, [and] I think that’s why people are upset, because they see it as part of the community.”

Earlier this month, Tower Records was bought by Great American Group in an auction after the record store filed for bankruptcy. Great American plans to liquidate the store’s assets and close its doors for good, including four stores in The City, within the next eight weeks, according to the company.

The move could end up costing Tower Records’ 3,000 employees their jobs, according to one longtime store worker who asked not to be identified.

For many longtime customers, such as Tom Mendoza of Santa Rosa, Tower Records was an iconic destination that they grew upvisiting. The self-described music geek and musician said he has been visiting Tower Records’ North Beach location, which opened in 1968 and was the company’s second store, for years to look for good deals on a diverse range of music. He said he is disappointed to see the store close.

“It’s a shame because, with all this music, you can’t just go into a WalMart and find that selection,” Mendoza said, standing in front of billboard-size posters of Madonna and E-40’s latest album covers, which adorn the North Beach store. “I am still going to go into a store for sure. I need the artwork and I need the CD.”

Marsha Garland, the executive director of the North Beach Chamber of Commerce, said the neighborhood Tower Records was unfortunately one of many stores that are being affected by the Internet. There have been several stores in The City whose sales have been better online than in a storefront, according to Garland.

“I am sorry to see Tower Records go,” she said. “It has been an institution in North Beach. I think that the American market needs to take a good, hard look at itself.”

sfarooq@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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