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Tower to Offer Record Buyers an 'Alternative' : Retailing: New store planned for Costa Mesa 'anti-mall' will feature clothing and a coffee shop aimed at young consumers.


COSTA MESA — Tower Records is planning to open an alternative music store in Costa Mesa by next year called Tower Alternative that will offer not only CDs and tapes, but also clothes and a coffee shop.

"We hope to target young people, from teen-agers to those in their 30s," said Russ Solomon, president of the 120-store Tower chain, which is based in Sacramento. "We will be focusing on avant-garde and pop music, not really classical and country music. It is an interesting departure for us."

Solomon said the new Tower store, at 5,000 square feet, would be smaller than a regular Tower store and could open as early as this fall.

The store will be located in The Lab, an "anti-mall" shopping concept created by Shaheen Sadeghi, former president of Quiksilver Inc. and an executive at Gotcha Sportswear International, two Orange County surf-wear designers.

Not yet open, The Lab, estimated at about 40,000 square feet, is designed as a new Costa Mesa retail center targeting young people with alternative fashions, music, hair salons, food and an international bookstore, Sadeghi said.

"It's going to be an anti-mall for non-mall people," said Sadeghi, who said the shops would be enclosed--like in a mall--but would have an outdoor element. The center will be located in an existing building on Bristol Street near South Coast Plaza, he said.

It is expected that the new Tower store would compete with a 27,000-square-foot Virgin Megastore slated to open in Costa Mesa this fall, but Virgin officials aren't worried.

"This will not impact our Orange County plans at all. In fact, we welcome the competition," said Steven Meisberger, vice president of finance for Virgin Retail Group in Santa Barbara. Meisberger noted that the Virgin Megastore in Los Angeles opened in December just blocks down Sunset Boulevard from a Tower Records store and is performing better than expected.

The new Virgin Megastore is set to open Oct. 1 in Costa Mesa's Triangle Square Center at Harbor and Newport boulevards and will offer not only music, but also clothes and a coffeehouse soon after opening, Meisberger said.

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