What constitutes an “indie store” ?

All those tweets in one place.

Whenever you see official figures saying how well “indie stores” are doing you think it means independent high street shops don’t you ?


Actually “indie stores” include the “indie” labels + their distributors + online sellers who sell releases for artists.


So when “indie stores” are doing so well now it is because artists, labels + distributors are doing a great job selling direct to customers.

Shops are in fact selling less + less + in many cases none at all as they are not allowed stock.

Of course once a year this all changes for RSD. But for those selling exclusive releases directly for the rest of the year every day is RSD


Avalanche – Label, Merchandise, Shop

XPRESSWAY PILE=UPSo Avalanche’s focus will be shifting considerably and things are well in hand. While I will indeed be tidying up and adding to the website I also needed this time off to finalise our label and merchandise plans. With announcements very close I won’t give you a series of  ifs and buts now but wait for things to be finalised. We do indeed have a worldwide label deal agreed for the Avalanche label founded in 1989  but my focus for the last three years has been to get our best new bands to a far wider audience and while I am close that side of things is by no means as yet a done deal.

We still get many visitors to the shop based purely on our reputation for releasing some seminal New Zealand music and 80′s and 90s Scottish bands. I have no idea if this discogs list is definitive  http://www.discogs.com/label/43917-Avalanche-Records-2 but it will introduce those unaware of Avalanche’s history to those artists we supported. Believe me everything about running a label today is easier given today’s technology and in particular email and mobile phones. However now there are new challenges to actually get great music out to those who want to hear it and this is my focus.

I have had some very generous financial offers to help with the shop and they will be considered in due course given the current situation with HMV and FOPP already well documented. I really had every intention of being open for Record Store Day and still do but one more list of ridiculous releases or the announcement of a Boyzone/Westlife split single and I may change my mind.  

Given Saturday was by far our busiest day I’m very pleased to announce we will in the meantime have a stall at the Grassmarket market selling our usual range of new vinyl, our best second hand vinyl along with some bargain boxes and of course a selection of our best posters. There will even be the odd CD and DVD.

Many, many thanks for all the kind words and apologies to those I haven’t acknowledged yet. Also a big thank you to those who have sent often very helpful advice with regards to the website and social media. Again I do hope to find time for more personal replies.

As I have said already as a label I will never underestimate the value of the support of the remaining shops in the UK and of course Avalanche’s many friends worldwide. There will hopefully be more label news and indeed more news too on our ever expanding range of posters and prints very soon. There may even be news on those 30th anniversary celebrations !  

Avalanche – A statement about how there will be a statement

avalanche-logo-use NMESunday at the latest I promise. Going with classic good news / bad news / good news combination with the bad news not being that bad hopefully ! What is needed in the meantime is two days of Record Store Day proportions. So what is there to tempt you ? 14 boxes of vinyl at £1 each and 2,000 great LPs from £5 to £10. Nobody who has been through them has failed to be amazed with every genre represented. There is a very special offer on the dance 12″s 0f 50 for £25 and also 25 x 7″s for £5.

Most of the DVDs are now £1 each including some box sets. There are over 1,000 CDs at £1 each and  two large racks of classic CDs at 3 for £10. Best of all is the 3 for £15 CD section of mostly full price CDs. Many of the fly posters are at £5 or less and I’ve just put out a bunch of newly discovered posters. 

There is a crate of reduced new vinyl on the counter which is again all good stuff and all the classic Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire, Biffy Clyro, Mogwai, The National, Pixies etc titles are all in stock along with the new White Stripes reissues on Third Man.

We are down to one large green Avalanche t-shirt I’m afraid. Such is the demand I’m going to do a presell for our next order. There are a few hoodies left but not many. I’ve also dug out all the books and magazines we have which are available for £1 to £3. 

Something for absolutely everybody so do come along and send us off in style. Cheers !

Shop news via twitter

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.

Avalanche discount gift vouchers – Record Store Day

Avalanche logo - useBorrowing 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 


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.

Last Shop Standing 6th edition‏ – What has changed for Avalanche since the book came out in 2009 ?

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. 

Since 2009 the “old skool” indies with new stock as their focus and supporting new music their aim have continued to decline the length of the country from One Up in Aberdeen to Rounder in Brighton while any new shops tend to be second hand in focus, concentrating on reissues when stocking new product and with little interest in the rewarding but far less profitable matter of breaking new artists. 
Of course this is compounded by the artists themselves selling directly to their fanbase making it ever harder for shops to grow support for a new artist organically. At the other end of the spectrum with major artists also adept at selling “direct to customer” shops are left with nothing but the crumbs which is not a sustainable position. While in the US some large retailers did make a stand over the Beyonce album release schedule it has yet to happen in the UK though Hilco/HMV CEO Paul McGowan did express disapproval on twitter. 

10 Things That Need To Change To Save Independent Record Shops

Coming soon !

Meanwhile - 10 Things That Need To Change To Save Independent Venues 


Saturday March 1st

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.