Great news in that the large container + toilet parked outside has been moved around the corner thanks to Georgia @GrassmarketEdin
I was reliably informed that nobody cares about a sale these days unless it is a closing down sale + so far that has proved true.
We have an amazing amount of stuff at fantastic prices (one French guy today bought 26 CDs, a DVD box + poster). Another 14 LPs at £1 each.
We really do need to clear the CDs + DVDs in particular + at least make a dent in the vinyl. Turning stock into cash ASAP is the priority !
Everything else is going so well + more on that very soon I promise but the cash raising bit has been a disaster despite our best stock ever
So if you could all just pretend it is a massive closing down sale + come along tomorrow that would be great 1000s of CDs DVDs + LPS £1 each
Obviously a few of you will be praying it is a closing down sale but for rest our last day in this shop is still planned for next Saturday.
I’ll be as clear about future as I can be by next Friday. There is a lot of very good news but I really do need to get shop finances sorted
For those asking we do also have a fantastic selection of posters on a buy 3 and get a 4th free. Great offer as most buy 2 or 3 posters.
And yes the deal applies to the fly posters already reduced to £5 and under.
Borrowing from our American cousins here is an opportunity to help finance the shop’s move and save some money especially if you are somebody who spends big on Record Store Day. Buy an Avalanche gift voucher which will be valid from Saturday April 19th and gain an extra 20% free so a £12 voucher costs only £10 etc.
Available in the shop of course but also online
Well as ever things are still fairly fluid but as they currently stand we have our last full trading day on Saturday March 1st. However it will take two weeks to clear the place so the plan was always to have more limited opening hours while this is being done and with the vast majority of business later in the day it made sense. Of course the Withered Hand album is out in the last week so that seemed like a perfect way to end our stay. We will need to clear a load of stock in particular CDs, DVDs and cheap vinyl so look out for lots of bargains. At the same time with over 4.000 LPs having just arrived covering every genre you can think of there has never been a better time for those looking to add to their vinyl collection to visit. It is absolutely essential that we have a decent last three weeks to make up what has been a fairly poor last couple of months.
Our next location is still to be decided but fear not we will be back open in plenty of time for Record Store Day on April 19th and I will as I’ve already said before use any down time to boost our online presence and spend some time on our 30th anniversary celebrations. Where we move to is inextricably linked to our plans outwith the shop that will indeed form an important part of Avalanche’s future while I also have to look at serious offers of investment to see in what other areas we concentrate our resources.
There has been a growing interest in the Avalanche label of old and many are unaware we are well known not only for releasing Scottish bands but also some seminal New Zealand bands. On top of that there has been growing pressure to revive the label to support the new bands we have done so well with. I’m currently examining an offer to not only reissue some of Avalanche’s best selling music from the 90s but also to have worldwide distribution for new releases. We will initially be looking to give a much wider release to our favourite albums of the last year or so and all will be made available on vinyl.
Our move to the Grassmarket to make more space for posters has been a great success and that will be another area we will be far more active in in the future. Again we have been working with business partners already specialists in this field for some time now and who are extremely supportive of Avalanche. We have already been offered a wealth of great artwork from labels and bands and this will be an important part of Avalanche’s future. We will also look to work with some of our favourite bands on improving their range of merchandise without resorting to gimmicks.
While second hand vinyl has been a growing success with so many jumping on the new vinyl bandwagon there are a lot of people wanting a piece of a cake that is only slightly bigger. To some extent how we deal with this will depend on our new location. Generally it now seems to be the accepted norm for shops to be left with the crumbs after bands, labels and now distributors do their best to sell directly to fans. As a label it will come as no surprise that we will recognise the importance of shops in supporting artists and place them at the centre of our plans.
While I’m still to decide on what focus the new shop will take it is fundamental to our plans to take on board the opinions of customers in relation to both the music we release and the merchandise we produce. It isn’t Avalanche that makes bands like Dead Flowers, There Will Be Fireworks or Quickbeam so popular it is our customers. Shops play an important part bringing artists to their customers’ attention by either playing or promoting via their social media sites but without quality bands and customers prepared to give new music a chance they will get nowhere.
I have no answer to the current problems facing the high street and retail in general though it is often clear those charged with helping have never stood behind a counter in their lives and often never run a business of any sort. Because of this our next move is crucial and I will be looking for both support and advice from others as to how we dovetail an integral part of the Avalanche jigsaw into future plans.
The plan had always been to get through to this point when things would undoubtedly be a lot better. Maybe not for record shops but for other businesses and the economy in general. Despite positive reports there is little evidence of recovery so far from the many businesses I have spoken to in a variety of Edinburgh locations.
The next three weeks will be crucial in raising funds and will be a strong measure for how we move forward in the future. In a way the people reading this are not the people we need. Support from regulars is fantastic and the response from visitors to the shop is always heartening. Only last Friday the Evening News documented the devastating effect the tram works have had on those in and around Edinburgh coming to the city centre to shop. While that now has to improve with the inexorable march of online shopping it may be too little too late for many and plans to hold events and simply hope people then buy more than just food and drink are not good enough.
Amazingly we have never had a better selection of stock be that vinyl, CDs, posters or even DVDs. All I need now is customers all week and not just on a Saturday !
Does HMV and FOPP really make that much difference ?
We’ve spent over 25 years competing with shops bigger than Avalanche, in better locations and with more money and better deals. Not a problem. What we can’t compete with is a model based on “we’re so fucked we can’t afford to pay a fair/any rent” and “we have no idea what will sell and how many so just give us the stock and we’ll pay for it when we sell it”.
It is obvious how much time you spend supporting local Scottish Bands can’t Creative Scotland help ?
I was originally told it was difficult helping businesses. When I pointed out they gave money to recording studios to help young and not so young bands I was told it helped both the bands and kept the studios in business !!! Many young bands have come to me asking for advice having had “one shot” recording in a studio and with just a couple of tracks to show for it. Often they weren’t particularly happy with them. It seems to me to make far more sense to help young bands in particular use home recording equipment giving them time to develop.
I suggested that shops in the UK could be given a small grant to dedicate space to and promote Scottish music. I was told there was no “box” this ticked and they would have to make a special plea for money for such an idea. Clearly spending a huge amount of money sending a few bands (often more than once) to SXSW is considered better value than having the UK’s leading record shops promoting Scottish music 360+ days a year.
You have so much great stuff is it really that quiet during the week ?
Yes it is. Sometimes scarily so. Saturdays are normally busy and possibly Sundays too but people just don’t seem to shop during the week. I appreciate that those who come in on a Saturday and see a bustling shop full of kids, regulars and visitors wonder what the problem is. There are other businesses it would be perfect for. Just not us unfortunately.
Where are you moving to ?
I really wish I could say but things have got more complicated over time when I expected them to simplify. Our leaving has generated more options than i stared with and some opportunities have occurred completely coincidentally.
Will you be open on Record Store Day ?
Definitely. Some plans will take longer than others but we will be open on Record Store Day. Without doubt I could have made more money just sitting at home this year with the exception of the week the Mogwai album came out. The future will have to utilise all sales platforms and sensibly allocate time accordingly !!! Our location will need to play to our strengths.
Do I know what the shop will be yet ?
No but one option sounds amazing and I’ll be happy if it comes off as it will in a way continue my vision for the place but not in a way you would expect.
More questions answered as I have time.
I was recently asked the question “What has changed for Avalanche since the book came out in 2009 ?” for the 6th edition of the Graham Jones book Last Shop Standing. It is as concise as I could muster and will come as no surprise to many of you.
Since 2009 the biggest change for Avalanche has been the propping up of HMV/FOPP by record companies, labels and often landlords. Avalanche has been used to competing with shops in prime locations and getting better deals because of their size for over two decades but to now have to compete with a company often paying little or no rent and not paying for stock until sold is simply not feasible leading us more than ever in 2014 to pursue areas where we are not in direct competition such as posters and second hand vinyl.
Coming soon !
Meanwhile - 10 Things That Need To Change To Save Independent Venues
So a month later than expected but I’ve set a date with the landlord for leaving. There have been several attempts to persuade me to stay and it is not impossible that I could still choose to stay in the Grassmarket but it is unlikely. Still too many permutations to say anything further but fear not Avalanche will be somewhere and in good time for Record Store Day. As soon as the options become manageable I promise to say more. There are a lot of positive options and I just have to make sure I make the right choices. Barely a couple of days pass without something else being thrown in the mix so I’m not set on any particular path yet.
I’m being asked lots of questions and apologies for not answering individually but I will address them all via the blog as and when I have time. I’m well aware and to be honest touched by the genuine concern shown by our many loyal customers. Thank you.
Still amazed at how many people refer to the blog and/or twitter when in the shop but hopefully at least that means it is a good way to let people know what is happening. There are too many ifs and buts at the moment to make too clear a statement but I’m receiving offers all the time.
I’ve had an offer to resurrect the Avalanche label by both licensing old albums and releasing new ones in what would be a worldwide deal. There has been a huge amount of interest from Aberdeen and some firm offers so I would be very disappointed not to have something in place in time for Record Store Day. Our first promotion with Cake Shop NYC is in place in conjunction with Rock Action and the first five “Avalanche Recommends” albums are being finalised. You will also see posters fairly soon in Edinburgh and Glasgow promoting one of our favourite albums thanks to the support of the UK’s leading poster company.
So all well and good and there are plenty of other things in the pipeline too but what we really need to do is take money especially over the next two weeks so we can pay our bills/rent/rates etc. This will at least be helped by the release of the Springsteen and Mogwai albums but it will take more than that. The weekend was good and thanks to everybody who came along. Having said that it was a few key large sales that really helped boost the takings. It really can be precarious and it only takes ten people shopping for vinyl to decide to shop in town rather than come to the Grassmarket and at a couple of LPs each £300 is knocked off the potential takings. Add in other factors and just 20 people can make a huge difference.
We should have been able to catch up to some extent over Christmas and New Year but bar a couple of days we were always way below last year. This year Edinburgh Council’s insistence on driving people towards Princes Street and St Andrew Square left the Grassmarket deserted even days before Christmas and surprisingly even before New Year. Of course some of our competitors not paying rent or for stock has had a big impact too. There is a possibility that Avalanche could remain in the Grassmarket elsewhere but it is hard to have confidence things will get better even after I had a positive meeting with the Grassmarket BID coordinator on Friday.
Given just how poor footfall is currently there is a strong argument for having somewhere far cheaper that regulars and all our international customers can find easy enough and just not pay for footfall. What took me by surprise was several people suggesting we should look for investors and given all the potential things we had in place go bigger ! To be honest these last three years have often been enjoyable but hard work and I would really need good people in place to contemplate such a thing.
A lot of people have asked how they can help but for now at least the answer has to be to buy stuff. We are not short of stock and in a way it sums up the problem that the kind of money we need to take over the next couple of weeks is no more than we take around Record Store Day weekend. We need to be busy every day so this week will really be make or break in seeing if that is possible. I will also add more to the online shop as people have been very supportive ordering online.
Again many thanks for all the good wishes it is greatly appreciated.
We have to clear a mountain of stock to get down to sensible levels before we leave. None of this buying in crap to sell or 10% discounts on overpriced goods. There will be new deals all the time but tomorrow will see some very special deals indeed.
1,000s of 7″s + CD singles reduced to 30p (5 for £1)
1,000s of 12″s at 10 for £5 including all the dance promos
1,000s of LPs £1 each
100s of DVDs at £1 including box sets
1,000s of posters £2 or less including many 60″ x 40″ fly posters (everything from Arctic Monkeys to Pink Floyd)
New vinyl sale at up to 50% off (boxes will be on the counter)
Many new CDs reduced to £5.99 (3 for £15)
100s of CDs reduced and added to £3.99 (3 for £10)
1,000s of CDs reduced to £1 or 6 for £5
All the second hand vinyl in the £5 to £10 boxes half price
This is one occasion when we need folk in the shop to actually buy the stuff rather than just “like” the idea we are having a sale.
Very grateful if everybody can spread the word. There is a lot of great stuff.
Most people appreciate that I sell customers the albums I think they will like not the albums I think they should like. Obviously over time my own taste has influenced the shop but also our customers have influenced me ! I will as part of our 30th anniversary make up some compilations of my favourite songs (I have no idea why they get called mixtapes) but for now here is a rare personal review of the last year and at a later date the last 30 years.
For me what makes an album memorable is the gap between expectation and reality. Consequently it is often a band’s first album that has the greatest impact with expectation low or sometimes non-existent. Now with everything so much more up front that feeling of listening for the first time as a new release came out of the box has been lost and I doubted if ever again I’d be as astonished as I was when I put on the first Godspeed album.
So what were my favourite albums of the year ? Well February contrived to have not only our two biggest sellers but two artists I really hoped would produce the goods for different reasons. Signing to a major is always a tricky path to negotiate so Frightened Rabbit could have been forgiven for taking time to bed in but as soon as songs started to emerge it was clear that Scott and the guys were on top form and it was with good reason it became our best selling album of the year.
Nick Cave I’d feared might just be on the cusp of going through the motions though he seemed revitalised after Glastonbury. Going down the “own label” let’s see how much money I can make with an expensive box set and announce it all on twitter route didn’t bode well but again he didn’t let us down and the album is one of his best which with his catalogue is really saying something.
Public Service Broadcasting were a band of whom I knew little except they were fans of the shop and had given us copies of their first 10″ to give away for free to people we thought might like them. The second I heard it I knew this would be an album we would play and people would buy. Old skool in the best possible way and a really pleasant surprise.
For some reason I still can not explain I had for a long time thought the National were good but not as good as people made out. I was of course completely wrong and everything they have done has been consistently brilliant and the new album just continued the line.
“I should leave it alone but you’re not right”
I’d been playing an advance copy of the Quickbeam album which I thought was very good. Customers were rushing to the counter and telling me it was brilliant. I got how “epic” the music was but gradually the odd lyric started to embed
“When this is all over and done we will remember them”.
Finally I met Monika and she told me she was a huge Conor Oberst fan and it all started to make sense. A stunning debut.
A slight lull in June and then came the Waxahatchee album. This was a tip off from a customer @edinburgh_man for those of you on twitter. It came with the first album which is also brilliant and as a double pack it is simply outstanding. A female Withered Hand and I can pay no higher compliment.
Then the long wait set in. There would definitely be a new There Will Be Fireworks album this year I had been promised. After four years I was happy to settle for it not being shit. If it was good it certainly could not have been worth the wait. In this case expectation had gone off the scale. I was sent a digtal download and it didn’t work. I took it as an omen. Then a CDR arrived and after only a few listens it was clear. They had achieved the impossible and made an album possibly even better than the first. This is maybe the best second album to follow a brilliant first album ever !
So with the year virtually at an end who comes in the shop but Ed Jupp of 17 Seconds claiming he has heard an album I will love. He’s a lovely guy but claiming to have an album I haven’t heard of that could be one of my albums of the year ……… Anyway I went home that night and intrigued read his blog and listened to the stream he had made available. He was right ! A cross between The Savings and Loan and Star Wheel Press with a vocal part Leonard Cohen, part Tom Waits the back story with songwriter and vocalist Ian Williams starting writing in the winter of 2011 underneath Coney Island’s Wonderwheel and working his way up the east coast eventually reaching Montreal where he spent long nights at The Wheel Club “until the spring came and the snow melted” was the icing on the cake. It was indeed a “Godspeed” moment.
So this year it starts all over again though where and how is yet to be decided. Is it possible Dan can get even close to his amazing first album, Avalanche’s biggest ever seller from a local artist and again four years in the making. Will we really need “New Gods” ? I think we will.