Archive for August, 2011

Opening hours Friday 26th August – 12.30pm to 7.30pm – Star Wheel Press in-store

We will be opening later than normal but then staying open later than normal. Star Wheel Press in-store is 6pm so we will be open until at least 7.30pm.

New retro look for the back of the shop

hmv 363 Oxford Street, London - Personal export lounge - early 1960s

Avalanche Coffee Shop

There has been nothing but compliments about how good the coffee is and the carrot cup cakes, rocky road and millionaire shortbread sell continuously. Red Dog and the Academy of Music below can be relied on to buy coffee all day long and one or two other local businesses have become good regulars but I simply haven’t had the time to promote it and give it the attention it deserves.

Surprisingly the seating at the back has proved most popular with families. The books and magazines have also been hugely popular. During busy in-stores it really comes into its own. However given how quiet the shop is in the morning and early afternoon we need to do far more to bring in more coffee shop customers during that time and with the other projects I have planned I don’t really have the time . I’ve also had some interesting chances for promotion but again not had the time to take them up.

Ideally we need somebody to run it for us but while there is a good basis for a business there it would take an established business or a very keen individual to really make a go of it. I will give it more thought but would be interested in anybody else’s ideas.      

Overview of all things Avalanche over the following week or so starting with – Tickets

Not sure how other ticket sellers are doing but I hear it is tough for all but the bigger gigs. We do well when we are the only seller of tickets for bands like Ballboy or Kid Canaveral but understandably people see no reason to buy tickets for smaller gigs that clearly will not sell out. Generally though people seem to have got so used to buying online or from Ripping that we sell few tickets for bigger gigs even when we have them. PCL did kindly offer us tickets for their Edge Festival gigs but to be honest I didn’t want to set up an account only to sell very few tickets. Twilight Sad are a huge band for us but despite the gig being completely rammed we sold relatively few tickets.

I greatly appreciate the support of Sneaky Pete’s and the Electric Circus along with labels like Song by Toad and many bands but of course when bands we have supported from the beginning like Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Arcade Fire or The National come to Edinburgh we can not hope to be given tickets. Of course after years of selling tickets for Fence, events such as Homegame sell out so quickly now there is no need to sell them anywhere but online.

When Darren Hayman, Half Man Half Biscuit and The Last Battle EP launch were all on the same Thursday night tickets actually sold well for all three gigs and it definitely helped bring people into the shop. Again I thank all those who have been so supportive as certainly every little helps.       

In-store details for next week @ Avalanche

Tuesday  23rd August  Emily Scott with her full band @ 5pm

Wednesday 24th August Sebastian Dangerfield @ 5pm

Friday     26th August  Star Wheel Press @ 6pm

Saturday  27th August  Edinburgh School for the Deaf @ 2pm

Sunday    28th August  Roy Wilkinson will be signing copies of his book “Do It For Your Mum” about British Sea Power and answering questions

Roy will be signing copies of the book from 3pm. Plus answering questions, dispensing bootleg plum gin and doing revisions of the text with Oasis as the new protagonists, whatever you like really.

John Williams Photography Exhibition

Excellent photography exhibition in the shop at the moment from John Williams.

Photos include Belle and Sebastian, Arcade Fire, Nick Cave and Laura Marling.

We also have a limited number of postcards priced very reasonably at £1.50.

Avalanche in the Grassmarket

Avalanche Records

5 Grassmarket




tel: 0131 659 7708

Avalanche has been trading in the heart of Edinburgh for over 20 years and is Scotlands largest Independent high street record shop. Nominated for ‘Music Retail Store of the Year – 2010 for the third year running in the national Music Week Awards. We have recently moved to the Grassmarket where we can be found at the castle end inbetween Red Dog and Helios Fountain.

Opening times are
Mon – Sat : 10:00 to 6:00 or often later Sun : 12:00 to 6:00

Pure Groove’s website closing today

Sad to see Pure Groove closing down their website today after the shop closed last year. Sure their only stocking 100 items in their shop a couple of years ago was a bit crazy but they did great in-stores and Simon who I met a few times as he is originally from Glasgow always came over as a nice bloke. Just like Smallfish before it another specialist website and shop in London that had to close the huge amount of effort needed to maintain these great sites and shops were not rewarded enough by sales. To some extent people would take all the information and reviews from these sites but then try to buy cheaper elsewhere but more and more it seems now people don’t really feel the need to physically own the limited seven inch they see reviewed at all and at best legally download the tracks but most likely just listen whenever they wish through streaming or acquiring the tracks for free. 

Probably the most annoying advice anybody could give me just now is that offering good customer service will see me triumph over cheap online sellers and downloading. People not only now expect their music for free but also all the associated information and advice. It is bad enough that people come in with notebooks writing down all the bands we recommend so they can go away and listen to them but we regularly spend 10 minutes or more with a customer telling them about a band or bands and when we offer to play them something they just say they will go away and listen at home. It isn’t just Scottish bands as I’ve noticed more and more I get asked about bands like Beirut and often with a band like that we do play something for the customer but still they claim to like it but will go away and “listen to some more”.

As we sell more t-shirts and posters the difference is becoming very clear. Customers who ask if we have any Foo Fighters posters invariably buy them. Customers looking for a Dead Kennedys t-shirt are happy to spend £15. Visitors who say they would like to buy a CD from a Scottish band who sound like Belle and Sebastian, Frightened Rabbit, Twilight Sad etc will always find something to buy and the Savings and Loan album seems to have a mesmerising effect that makes people buy it but 70% of the time now even when a customer comes up to ask what we are playing they don’t buy it when 5 years ago 80%+ of customers would buy.

The biggest problem is that it is the sort of customer that goes to an independent shop that behaves like this. They know they will get little help from a big store. Though we sell the Adele album funnily enough nobody has ever asked me what she sounds like. Similarly nobody would normally consider buying directly from Adele or her label to “support” her as an artist or her independent label. I doubt if even the SONY/DADC fire has changed this. It may just be that the sort of artists and labels that independent shops and websites like Pure Groove support have fans who feel their first loyalty is to the band and their label however much support the shop/site gives while others have convinced themselves that not even the bands deserve their money and download for free. The former of course is a personal choice while the latter is very hard to justify.

Today I’ll be looking for more t-shirt and poster companies.      

Fire at SONY DADC – PIAS Labels

I’ve been asked by customers about this and to be honest I’m not sure what the best thing to do is. You will understand I’m not too keen on albums being downloaded at the expense of shop sales. If you buy a CD from Avalanche there is a very good chance it will be from PIAS who are by far our largest supplier. Bon Iver, Frightened Rabbit, Twilight Sad, Broken Records, Beirut, National, Mogwai, the entire Chemikal Underground catalogue we stock, Bonnie Prince Billy, Pavement, Sebadoh, Smog. Silver Jews, James Yorkston, King Creosote (some titles), Pixies, Slint, Big Black, White Stripes, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada etc etc etc. You get the idea.

Exactly which of the PIAS labels will end up needing help I’ve no idea. The Beggars group who lost the most have said they will probably cope the best as they are a global concern now. I don’t think they would want somebody to go out of their way to buy one of their albums at the expense of some small struggling non PIAS label. Best thing I can suggest is buy independent labels’ releases and most of the time you will be supporting PIAS. Buy from an independent shop and you are supporting both the shop and independent labels. WIN/WIN as far as I can see. We were lucky in that three large boxes arrived from PIAS just before the fire so we have a reasonable amount of stock for now.

Without a doubt there will be people on all sides who will just see this as an opportunity for publicity and sales. Such is the world we live in. 


Withered Hand tickets for The Queen’s Hall 25th August 2011

We now have tickets for the gig which are very reasonably priced at £10 with a 60p+VAT booking fee. 

Support comes from Eagleowl, Woodpigeon and Neil from Meursault.

Also two different designs of t-shirt, tote bags and badges will be available. Unconfirmed rumours of mugs. 

The white and black versions of the album on vinyl should also be getting shipped today from the States.