ode to tower records & books.

October 19, 2008

Growing up, we all had our places of refuge, places we loved to visit just to be there. One of those places for me was Tower Records & Books on Broadway in Sacramento. Known as Tower corner, it was home to Tower Records, Tower Books, Tower Video, Tower Cafe, Tower Theater, and Tower Liquor across the street. Sacramento was the home of Tower Records. Open till Midnight.

I spent countless hours between the record shelves, searching through the singles section because I didn’t have enough money to buy a whole CD. The salespeople were offbeat and always nice, and they always played good music overhead. I always admired the way they would sculpt the music promo flyers on the walls, making pieces of art out of the repetative images of the band’s faces and logos on thin cardboard. It was indie in all ways except for being a chain.

By the time I was able to afford a whole CD, I had began to head over to Tower Books next door after going through Tower Records, scanning the shelves for any book that caught my eye. I always admired their selection of magazines there as well – knowing me, being a magazine freak, I would sit and browse through all their imported magazines – that was always one thing that I remembered well about Tower (Records and Books) they had an AWESOME import selection.

I loved the fact that they didn’t close till late because it was always late that I wanted to go and browse somewhere.

Many an hour was wasted there, going through their shelves, buying things that caught my fancy. Zach and I would spend a lot of time here looking for books – I think it was one of the bookstores that he didn’t actually mind browsing with me (now he just likes to beeline to what he wants to get). Me, no, I’m a browser.

It was here that I fell in love with bookstores.

Two years ago, during Thanksgiving holiday, we went back home, and before going back, his sister told us the news. Tower was really going out of business. I was sad. It was as if a part of my youth – part of who I was growing up – was going away.

I made one last visit to the Tower Records and Books on Broadway, looking at all the partially empty shelves, everything marked up to 70% off. Or more. It was surreal and strange, seeing the music listening stations ready for sale, as well as the shelves. Everything was going. I knew I wanted to buy a piece of history, and while reminiscing with the sales guy, I asked if I could buy the metal “Photography” sign that was glued on what was once the Photography shelves. He sold it to me for one dollar. It sits on my desk today.

I miss you Tower Records, you were a part of my past, and I have many fond memories of you. Thanks to you, I have fallen in love with record stores and most importantly bookstores, and I often now find refuge there. Thanks to you, they created the movie Empire Records, which is one of my favorite movies ever mostly because it reminds me of you. Thanks to you, I will always have a fondness for the corner of Broadway and 16th in Sacramento.

Thanks Tower, for all the memories. :)

(image taken of Tower Theater & Cafe in 2002 when I was still in college)

3 Responses to “ode to tower records & books.”

  1. mel says:

    Aw, good ol’ Tower. I have a photo taken in front of the theater with Suzanne, Trish, ET, Josh, and Mark Lee from back in the mid-90s. We’re all dressed up and holding hands like we’re receiving a standing ovation. Thanks for rekindling the memories!

  2. iris says:

    wow. i wish i could’ve visited it. I’m into bookstores and music stores now, not so much when I was younger since I wasn’t exposed to them yet. It’s too bad my family and I didn’t go many places… cause it was just about an hour or so away from my parents’ place.

  3. jenniferL says:

    yeah… i was sad to hear tower was closing a few years ago. my mom used to take us up there to browse the video, bookstore and record stores. then as i got older i hit up tower liquors. i even worked at the corporate offices for a bit. i love seeing movies at the tower theater. i was just in sacto and saw the theater still up, they can’t get rid of this!!