I've got a whole city to hold down

February 09, 2004

Contraction in the retail realm

Feeling the squeeze from the likes of fellow big-box behemoth Best Buy, Circuit City announced today they'll shutter 19 stores, including two Chicagoland locations.

Also today the parent company of Tower Records filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, completing the downfall of a company that's been in difficult financial straits for years. Founder Russ Solomon envisioned and then created a chain of large stores that offered the widest selection and most knowledgeable staff, who in turn were given great leeway to stock the stores as they saw fit; as competition from the big boxes ate away at Tower's profits, however, the corporation abandoned the strategy and tried to streamline operations. As a result, it became just another faceless chain.

Under the bankruptcy deal, the Solomon family will sell all but 15% of the company's shares. At this time there are no plans to close any retail outlets; Tower has two stores in the Chicago suburbs and two in the city, including its renowned North Clark Street location.

All of this news follows the announcement late last month that the Crow's Nest record shop on South State Street will soon be shuttered.

These stories are usually accompanied by a lot of hand-wringing about unauthorized downloading and the damage it does to the record industry. This, of course, is horsepucky. The downloading genie left the bottle long ago, folks, and he's never going back; we'd suggest the industry embrace the technology, invest in its advancement, and find innovative ways to charge reasonable sums for those advances. Oh yeah, and cutting the ridiculous retail cost of CDs would probably help too.