People Make The Difference

From now on, I will be buying my CDs and DVDs at Tower Records. I never actually had an allegiance to, they were just convenient, and the prices were right. Initially it was books I was buying, but when I wanted a CD, well why not? Easy to order, arrives at my door. And so the habit began, not from desire but because there was nowhere else I particularly wanted to go. And to some extent, “go” was the operative word.

Years ago I used to shop at Tower Records, in New York City stores and later in Los Angeles on Sunset. The stores were nice, big enough but not huge, good selection including lots of jazz, knowledgeable staff…All too soon, however, the stores became too big, the staff too small and narrowly focused; jazz became marginalized, the classical music section shrank, and the pounding sounds of the latest hits (I guess it was rock, back then) pervaded every corner of the store. I didn’t want to shop wearing earplugs, so I eventually stopped going. For awhile I just didn’t buy many new CDs, and then online shopping became the solution. I traded the impersonal store for the personless internet.

I haven’t been inside a Tower store in many years, and I don’t know when they created their online presence. I had no “relationship” with them, so it never occurred to me to check back, to investigate other locations or possibilities. So what has changed? I met some wonderful PEOPLE who work for Tower, and they were so kind and supportive, not only to me and John, and our client Clairdee, but also the many artists at the Monterey Jazz Festival who record or write for small independent labels and publishers. They created prominent displays and listening stations for us, positions for which the big guys usually pay big bucks. Clairdee’s CDs were side by side with Sonny Rollins’ new release inside the Arena, and in the booth along the midway, three of her recordings were displayed face out, at eye level. “Men, Women and Girl Singers,” the book I wrote for my husband, was directly under a sign proclaiming HITS! in an endcap right at the door of the booth where every passer-by could see it even if they didn’t go inside. And they hosted signings: I saw Doug Ramsey there signing his Desmond biography on Saturday, side-by-side with John Scofield; John signed his biography on Sunday, side-by-side with Clairdee.

I can’t thank these people enough. Sure it was good for business — they said Clairdee’s Music Moves flew off the shelf and we sold quite a few books as well — but it was their attitude. They really wanted to promote the little guys and they went out of their way to make it happen. We didn’t know these great folks before a week or two ago, and we never asked for any special treatment while exchanging a few emails and quick calls. I was also surprised to learn that this team that worked together like a well-oiled machine is actually a bunch of colleagues from several different stores. I kept asking who was in charge, so I could give thanks and heap praise on all. Seems they were all in charge, so let me publicly thank the ones I know by name, and encourage you to shop at Tower, especially if you live near one of the stores where these four fine folks work: Event Coordinator LeRoid David from the Bay Area Regional Office, Operations Manager Pete Leon and Product Manager Matt Loushin from Mountain View (South Bay’s Flagship location), and Operations Manager Maggie Colligan from Market Street. [The photo shows LeRoid (left), and Pete (right), with John.]