Archive for February, 2014

So what is the future for Avalanche ?

Avalanche the shopWell 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.



Snapper+-+Shotgun+BlossomThere 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.

NMH A3 useOur 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.

vinyl pic - SkinnyWhile 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.


Dead Flowers - MidnightWhile 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 !         

Answers to some of the most common questions asked about leaving 5 Grassmarket

RecordStore11GTDoes 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.