Credit: Illustration by Emily Flake

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In the darkened, forlorn parking lot of the Pike 7 Plaza, Ed Smith lugs a roughly 7-foot-by-3-foot blue-and-white foam-and-cardboard Tower sign. It used to hang in Classical. In three-dimensional art deconstyle script buffeted by cutout high-society ladies in evening gowns, it welcomes customers, offering classical, jazz, and more. Smith leans the sign against his Rav4 and contemplates how to wedge it inside.

“[Tower] was the source for everything I’ve ever gotten,” Smith explains. “This was kind of always Old Faithful.”

Smith is 33 and has been coming to Tower since he was a preteen. He went hard for R&B and jazz and harder still for Steely Dan. He discovered that band’s ’70s noodly soul here. “The first one I got was the greatest hits from ’89,” he recalls. “It was all my favorite music wrapped up into one—R&B, jazz, and popisms.”

Smith works as a sound engineer and lives in Arlington. His license plate reads: anulog. He won’t do iTunes because “the sound quality is bad” and wonders where he will go next for his SuperAudio and DVD-audio CDs. “I shudder to think,” he says, shuddering just a bit. “Not Best Buy.”

Tonight’s purchase is the second piece of Tower signage he’s carted away—the chain is hocking everything but the drywall. “I’ll probably put it inside my office on the wall if it will fit,” Smith says.