Avalanche at 40, thanks to Maggie Thatcher - Kevin Buckle

Avalanche has supported Belle and Sebastian since the very beginningAvalanche has supported Belle and Sebastian since the very beginning
Avalanche has supported Belle and Sebastian since the very beginning
I was watching an old lecture by the comedian Stewart Lee on the writing of stand-up comedy and its evolution over the last few decades when he mentioned how many people got started in the eighties by taking advantage of Margaret Thatcher’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme to reduce unemployment figures.

I had been trying to remember what this scheme had been called recently as this is how Avalanche started so it couldn’t have been better timed.

Wikipedia then informed me that others in the club are Creation Records head Alan McGee, Superdry founder Julian Dunkerton, artist Tracey Emin and the creators of Viz magazine.

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When the scheme finished its trial in the summer of 1983 and went nationwide it was perfect tining for me. Having worked in an actuary’s office every summer I knew what I really wanted was to start my own business and the scheme offered £40 per week when I was on £25 a week dole money and was living in a small top floor bedsit at £15 a week.

I found out recently the place I was staying in was actually famous for having been home to Mike Scott of the Waterboys and many of his musician friends.

There was, however, one drawback and that was anybody on the scheme had to show they had £1000. However, with a suitable business plan the Co-op bank would give a new business a £1000 overdraft so I was accepted.

That summer I had been asked to help out in The Last Record Shop on Lady Lawson Street and discovered there was a damaged block mounting machine in the basement. I had it repaired and using wood from Lawsons Timber a few doors along started making pop merchandise with pictures of Duran Duran and Wham being the most popular.

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A customer helped me get a stall at Ingliston Market on a Sunday and on 30 November 1983 the business officially started selling second hand records and pop merchandise. The plan was to make enough money to get a shop and at the start of June 1984 Avalanche opened on West Nicolson Street.

We were yet to get record company accounts but out that day was Nick Cave’s first solo album and the first track was the Leonard Cohen song Avalanche.

The business will enter its fortieth year this November so expect lots of celebrations with limited editions of forty. There will also be forty releases including vinyl by some of Avalanche’s biggest selling local bands many of which will not have been on vinyl before.

Since we opened in Waverley Market three years ago I’ve mainly got by with the help of friends, and of course there has been massive disruption, but I now intend to put together a team of people.

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I have more offers and opportunities than I could possibly take up so rather than make choices and then look for people I’m going to see where the assembled team’s strengths lie first before deciding on which areas to focus on.

There will be a lot more information on all of this in coming weeks on our website and of course social media.

We will also be updating our top 100 selling Scottish albums of all time. Spoiler – nobody is ever going to overtake Belle and Sebastian.

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