A few weeks ago I was preparing to do a guest slot on InterFM’s “The Selector” program, which features music mavens sharing their favorite tracks.

While I had a few tunes from the not-so-recent past in mind, I needed some newer stuff to round out the playlist. I went to Tower Records Japan's flagship store in Tokyo's Shibuya district to pick the brains of the staff there and the clerks came up with the goods.

That kind of informed service is a big reason why Tower Records Japan has survived. Many other music-retail chains have either disappeared (Virgin Megastores) or have become online operations (HMV Japan). Many smaller, niche music retailers have also gone to the wall as more and more people have stopped patronizing what music fans of a certain age still quaintly call "record stores."