Credit: Illustration by Emily Flake

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Jim Cox buttons his top button. He zips his jacket all the way to the top. He looks exactly like the kind of guy who would spend $40 on a SuperAudio recording of The Magic Flute. Actually, he’s spent a lot more than that—over the last 15 years, Cox estimates that he’s spent $2,000 on classical records at Tower, most of it on one composer. “Much Mozart,” explains the 62-year-old. “Wonderful Mozart.”

Tower’s sea of Philips and Deutsche Grammophons and EMI Classics was just part of the appeal. Cox also appreciated being able to quiz the store’s well-informed classical-music staff. “The best fellow that I know of is actually downtown—the German. This guy is a genius.” Their relationship wasn’t always harmonious, however. “I got on his bad side,” says Cox. “I mentioned the famous conductor in Germany who is said to have slapped his performers in the orchestra if they didn’t come up to snuff. I said that it was probably just anti-Nazi propaganda. Uh-oh. That tore it.”