Bigger Better Tower?

Purported financial difficulties haven't prevented Tower Records from developing a massive new flagship store in Los Angeles. Occupying more than 33,000 square feet, the new store in the renovated Sherman Oaks Galleria features a "state-of-the-art" performance stage and a Super Audio CD demonstration room.

Officially opened November 16, the new Tower store is more than twice the size of the company's previous store on Ventura Boulevard. Tower claims to take customers to "the next level" with the store's offerings, which include—in addition to the performance space and SACD room—a newsstand, two DVD viewing stations, and four SavageBeast downloadable music kiosks. In addition to music, movies, books, and magazines, the store offers "wide-ranging electronics and personal stereo equipment," including DVD/CD players and SACD machines. A November 14 announcement says the Sherman Oaks location is the first Tower store with an SACD room, implying that eventually others will have them, too.

"I am thrilled about the opening of the new Sherman Oaks location," said company president Michael Solomon. "This project has been in the works for the last two years and it is great to see the vision become a reality." The store is now Tower's largest venue on the West Coast.

Financial problems earlier this year caused a rift with small classical labels. Tower execs had instructed store managers not to order from some classical distributors in an effort to conserve cash. Tower has long enjoyed a reputation for being a "deep catalog" operation; the November 14 announcement makes clear that the company intends to continue that tradition. The Sherman Oaks location stocks more than 150,000 CDs, of almost all genres, and features 69 listening stations where customers may sample more than 500 albums. The store also stocks more than 20,000 DVDs.

The biggest, newest Tower Records also carries what it claims is "the world's largest selection of Super Audio CDs." Planned SACD demo rooms in other stores will undoubtedly benefit the high-resolution format.