Revolution in retail finally catches up with Avalanche

Avalanche owner Kevin Buckle. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Avalanche owner Kevin Buckle. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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IT’S been at the centre of Scotland’s thriving music scene for more than three decades.

Now Avalanche Records is set to shut up shop for good after admitting there is “simply not enough business left” to keep going.

The iconic music store, which started life on West Nicolson Street, will close its current St Mary’s Street base for the last time at the end of the month.

But boss Kevin Buckle revealed he is now hatching ambitious plans to open a centre dedicated to the history of Scottish popular music.

Launched in 1983 – at a time when more than 2200 record shops still did a roaring trade in Britain’s towns and cities – Avalanche quickly became a cultural force in its own right as the Capital’s bustling music scene exploded.

After moving from West Nicolson Street, the store was based at Cockburn Street until 2010, before upping sticks to the Grassmarket.

In recent years, it has been an online-only operation before taking on a number of temporary sites and finishing on 
St Mary’s Street.

But Mr Buckle said the decline in passing trade had hit profits. A closing down sale will begin today, with CDs, LPs and posters from £1. He said: “It’s clear there’s no point in having a shop where you just stand there for hours and wait for somebody to come in. Shopping has changed in Edinburgh. It’s not as if the website won’t be there.”

And he hinted plans were afoot to open up a permanent exhibition focusing on Edinburgh’s – and Scotland’s – popular music history. He said: “All the spade work, all the background work has been done. I can now give it my full attention and just give it a shot.

“The history of the venues and the labels – it would be a real tourist attraction. It would have an Edinburgh focus, but it would cover the whole of Scotland.

“The important thing is, it won’t just be a history – it will go right through to the new bands as well. We would have all the current bands. I just want to give it a chance.”

In a blog posted to Avalanche’s website, he revealed the firm would be withdrawing from this year’s Record Store Day after being disappointed with the goods on offer.

Throughout its long life, Avalanche has been championed by a number of famous figures, including crime king Ian Rankin and comic Sean Hughes, as well as big-name Scottish bands such as Frightened Rabbit.

Yesterday, music fans from across the UK paid tribute to the cult store and shared memories of treasured records bought within its walls.

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com