I stopped by the Lincoln Park location of Tower Records yesterday, and the atmosphere was decidedly somber—how could it not be, with giant “store closing” signs posted everywhere? Everything in the store was at least 10 percent off, but most of the shoppers seemed unaware that Tower was going out business until the signs alerted them. I heard customers ask clerks, “Why are you closing?” at least a half-dozen times in the fifteen minutes I was there, along with a handful of laments about the situation from shoppers.    

Since most folks apparently weren’t following the chain’s bankruptcy struggles, the announcement seemed pretty sudden. The end of what was arguably the best deep-catalog store in the U.S. over the last two decades is pretty ignominious, but I also get the feeling that most locals won’t shed many tears about its disappearance. That’s unfortunate: while it’s been years since I made Tower a primary record-shopping destination, it remained the most reliable brick-and-mortar source for older titles in all genres. The Virgin Megastore presented a threat when it opened in late 1998, but with time the downtown store became less impressive, shrinking its deep catalog and emphasizing DVDs and nonmusical garbage like T-shirts. In my previous post I requested that Amoeba Music—the three-store California music wonderland—open an outpost in Chicago, where they would certainly kick the asses of nearly every shop in town. This city deserves a great record store.

Will Chicagoans miss Tower? Does Amazon now become the only place to find what you need?