If it was good enough for Godspeed …… Avalanche the physical shop to go on a short hiatus

After the media attention last time I’m very wary as to how I couch my words. Certainly the problem then was people didn’t read all the statement and in some cases just read the first paragraph. So what is happening ? My break in the lease for the Grassmarket shop was this November and I would have needed to decide in the summer. It was impossible to make any sensible decision then without knowing the future of HMV and FOPP.

February had been our busiest month for years. With HMV and FOPP going into administration and One Up in Aberdeen closing customers realised the enormity of the uphill battle faced. Add to that the release of our two biggest albums of the year from Frightened Rabbit and Nick Cave and it gave people a reason to come in. March on the other hand was a disaster. HMV bought all their stock at a fraction of its value and started a closing down sale. I never for one second believed they would close all their Edinburgh shops and as expected landlords caved and gave them much lower rents. With prices so low it affected even our second hand sales though at least we were left with increasing new vinyl sales. April continued to be poor and when the cash generator that is Record Store Day came along instead of providing us with a buffer for the future it just helped us recover from the previous poor month and a half.

Anyway fast forward to now and the worst case scenario that was always also the most likely. With no bidders for HMV Hilco who had bought the secured debt at a knock down price bought HMV and FOPP also at a knock down price. Record companies and labels also caved to their demands and stock is now supplied on a consignment basis so nothing is paid for until sold. I fully understand this as it is impossible to gauge new release sales and almost no catalogue sells within the period of normal payment terms. However these unviable payment terms are still those applied to indies and it leaves me unable to compete especially on vinyl.

It is clear from speaking to others that things aren’t going to get better. Very kindly my landlord has offered a break at the end of January and I can see no reason not to take it. It seems an ideal time to beef up our online presence, utilise our incredibly successful social media platforms and dedicate some time to the things that work so well for us such as posters. It would also give me the time to concentrate on promoting worldwide our best selling albums from Scottish bands, an idea that has seen a huge amount of interest expressed in it but has failed so far to raise any financial support.

There’s a lot more from resurrecting the label to finding new outlets for music but more of that later. It seems more than appropriate that exactly 30 years after I started raising money for the first Avalanche shop that I should do the same again putting things in place for a new physical presence. I’m very proud of what has been achieved here in the Grassmarket and the frankly overwhelming response it has received but it was always an ideal never a business model. 

It also means that with our 30th celebrations coming up I’ll be able to make sure I have more time to dedicate to all the things I have planned many of which will dovetail nicely into Avalanche’s future model. How well the online sales go will help determine what other things we can do in the future. 

I’ll also speak to record companies and labels to see what level of support there is. Several have already pledged support and see the merit in what we do while others can’t see past keeping HMV afloat as long as possible.

I’m sure this will raise more questions than it answers and there is far more to say but for now I think this will do ! In the meantime please buy stuff !


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