Tower Records Documentary

Seeing as how many of us starting out with vinyl, I thought there might be some interest in Colin Hanks’ movie “All Things Must Pass”. It chronicles the founding, growth, and eventual demise of Tower Records. I really didn’t know much about Tower’s history, so I was surprised to learn that its flagship started in Sacramento, and the store in North Beach San Francisco was the first move into a major city. By the time I moved to the Bay Area in 1971, there were a few other locations. In those days my roomie and I built quite a collection since everything was $2.99 everyday price, with sales going for $1.99. I still have an imported Miles Davis/Michel Legrand collaboration with the price tag still on it.

Not to get too nostalgic, but that stuff sounded great on the first real system I ever owned:  Marantz integrated, Advent utility speakers, and Phillips turntable … no high-end interconnects or special speaker cable, just basic clear sleeved twisted copper. Maybe it was the non-prescribed “un”-medical sound enhancement material I was using at the time; but I’d swear that system might give my current rig a run for it. At any rate, check out that movie if you get a chance. IMHO, it's worth the 90 minutes or so.

Saw it quite a while ago. Really fascinating
I am amazed that there are still a lot of Tower record stores open in Japan

The movie is fine as far as it goes, but doesn’t tell the whole story, for whatever reason. Tower borrowed it’s operating capitol every quarter, repaying the loan at the end of that quarter. That worked fine for a long time, but after owner Russ Solomon retired and his son took over, for the first time in Tower’s history the company’s net income one quarter was less than the amount of the loan---the company couldn’t repay the loan. The contract with the loaning bank stipulated that if two quarterly loans in a row were missed, the bank could take over the operation of the company. When that transpired, that’s just what it did.

Employee hours were cut from 40 hours a week to 35, but most importantly, central buying was implemented. Tower had been unique amongst chain record stores in that each store had it’s own buyers, doing the buying for their individual store. Tower then demanded from the record label distributors 365 days dating for it’s purchases from them---you send us the product, we’ll pay you for it in a year! Perhaps the majors could afford to do that, but the indi distributors refused. How could they stay in business if having to wait to be paid for a year?! The indi buyers then were forbidden from buying product from the indi distributors who refused that shakedown arrangement. Without indi label music to differentiate it from Target, Walmart, etc., who sold major-label product for less than Tower stores paid for it wholesale, the writing was on the, uh, wall. With Amazon selling indi label product, who needed Tower?

banks and real estate are two entities designed to kill business.
cash is the king, but that's illegal LOL
I wish Tower was still around here in the USA.
Are the stores in Japan a different business model?
jafant, Russ Solomon sent some of his people over to Japan to set up the stores and train the staff, and though using the same business model they were some of the most profitable in the chain.