Avalanche Records to open in Cabaret Voltaire cafe

Avalanche Records owner Kevin Buckle. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
Avalanche Records owner Kevin Buckle. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
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IN a sign of the times, a record store which closed earlier this year is reopening in a cafe attached to a nightclub.

Cult firm Avalanche Records has been given a new lease of life by Cabaret Voltaire.

The vinyl retailer, which had been operating in the city centre for nearly 30 years, closed its Grassmarket store in February, moving to an online-only business.

Owner Kevin Buckle wanted to reduce the pressures of rents and rates, and to strike a balance between running a shop and being able to take part in occasional markets and events.

Now the iconic firm, which counts author Ian Rankin and comic Sean Hughes among its customers, has a new home at popular alternative club Cabaret Voltaire, on Old Town’s Blair Street.

After a refurbishment in May 2012, the subterranean spot gained a street level café bar – Cafe Voltaire – which now serves coffees and pizzas and often hosts impromptu gigs and parties that creep up from the club below.

From tomorrow, Avalanche will be based at the venue. Catering to a young and trendy crowd it is open during afternoons – and its clientele are likely to be part of a music-buying niche which has seen some hipsters switch allegiance from digital back to vinyl.

Mr Buckle said his move to Cabaret Voltaire was in part influenced by the success of similar ventures like the New York music cafe and bar Cake Shop, which Avalanche will be working with in the future.

The music lover, who was based in Cockburn Street until moving to the Grassmarket in 2010, will continue to promote his ethos of supporting up-and-coming Scottish musicians.

He said: “It is not uncommon now for record shops to be given space in a larger building, be that cafe or arts centre, but the problem is understandably they are often stuck in the basement or at the back.

“What we have been offered by Cabaret Voltaire is the prime space at the front. The trade-off, of course, is that the space will need to be flexible but it is perfect for our needs.

“So with Cafe Voltaire I have just that with the ability to change things as I see fit.

“It is as central as I could have hoped for, so Avalanche’s many overseas visitors will find us easily and if we want to have a big poster sale or put out a lot more vinyl we can just take over all the space on a suitable day.”

Mr Buckle added: “It is just the base I was looking for and I will be able to pursue other projects I have been offered at the same time without the pressures of the rents and rates of the Grassmarket.”

While the arrangement is flexible, both groups have stressed that it is not temporary. Avalanche Records will trade consistently from Wednesday to Sunday, from midday until 6pm.

Cabaret Voltaire’s assistant manager Lauren Glass said: “I think this is a really good opportunity for Edinburgh and the music scene. It’s a really positive way to go forward and it will hopefully bring in more customers and passing trade.”