One Up’s comments about closing after Christmas unless business improved if anything made me focus even more on Avalanche’s future. There were three obvious options :-
1. That we could survive as we were with enough customers for what we do.
2. That there was a demand for what we do but not enough as things stand to sustain us.
3. That there simply wasn’t the demand anymore for a record shop of our size in Edinburgh.
As other shops have commented before there is no point in continuing by regularly having money raising events and gigs if the demand for the shop really isn’t there. That we ended up with option 2 was not a surprise but thankfully suggestions as to how we supplemented our income were more useful than “selling online”.
In fact it was some of our newest customers from the new intake of students along with those who had returned who seemed most concerned they might lose the shop. We were already well down the line of sourcing even more posters and certainly this was a universally popular idea. However what was suggested, and I’ve mentioned recently, was that most students now were so unaware of what a good record shop could offer that we take what we do to them. Not only would it boost the coffers financially but encourage first time buyers to check out the shop.
When we very kindly had these posters put up for us I though I was advertising the new Cat Power and XX albums as well as a poster sale but many assumed I was advertising Cat Power and XX posters ! Not a daft assumption but not what I thought would first spring to mind.
I was well aware there were already poster sales at the universities but they now appear to be mainly film posters and they certainly don’t have the wide range of posters we have. Any possible doubts were removed when on Wednesday I had several Heriot-Watt students in all very enthusiastic about the posters and saying we should take vinyl out to their campus too.
So it would seem there is a demand for what we do but we may need to take it to our potential customers rather than wait for them to come to us. There has also been a noticeable increase in vinyl sales to our students so along with the posters it seems a winning combination.
I’ve been offered all the help I need in commissioning new posters and had nothing but support from the record labels and bands I have spoken to already who understandably see it as great promotion. The irony that they want to compete for my sales of music but not the posters has not been lost on me.
It also looks like I may have sourced more original posters going back almost a decade. I originally raised enough money to open my first shop by selling hand made block mounts of everybody from Duran Duran and Wham to David Bowie and of course that first shop was next to Edinburgh University so in a way it feels we have very much come full circle.
Selling posters online is expensive because of the postage and cost of the tubes but at least that gives a shop an advantage for once in costs. Interestingly I had a lady at the counter buying a CD observing the kids and students rummaging through the posters and she commented that I should make more of the posters as “the ones in HMV are shit”. You can’t beat good advice from customers !
So it may be that to stay in the Grassmarket we need to leave it from time to time. We undoubtedly need to do more than just posters and I’ve looked at other areas from new releases to local bands releases and will post my thoughts soon but in these days of fierce competition from all quarters it is certainly very true that you can’t download a poster.