​Celebrating 40 years in the tough music business - Kevin Buckle

​​On Friday 1 December I had been in business for 40 years and the very next day the shop had its busiest day since moving to Waverley Market, excluding Record Store Days, just beating the Saturday Harry Styles was in town.
Avalanche Records in Waverley Mall, EdinburghAvalanche Records in Waverley Mall, Edinburgh
Avalanche Records in Waverley Mall, Edinburgh

While the Christmas Market, which is only yards from the shop, doesn’t do any harm, it is not quite the draw some make out for shoppers for the simple reason there isn’t that much to buy there with the focus very much on food and rides.

This is good news for shops like Born In Scotland in the centre as they sell the very things people were expecting to see in the market, but were disappointed.

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Interestingly the St James Quarter is recording record levels of footfall but the feedback I get from visitors is rarely positive with the most frequent comment being there is nothing there they can’t find back home.

I was surprised at how many visitors have recently told me they were returning to the shop after a previous Christmas shopping visit had been so successful. Fair play also to HMV who send over customers looking for things they don’t have.

The centre may have its faults but it is always warm and the recent cold weather has certainly encouraged people to visit and then linger.

The rides at the Christmas Market are certainly popular, but there is little incentive to stay there for the over-priced food options when folk can sit in the warmth of the centre’s food court.

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I had several parents who had left their kids in the food court so they could come to the shop to buy their Christmas presents.

Unlike previous years when there would be quiet days often coinciding with bad weather, every day this week has been busy and I’ve decided to bring forward the shop’s recruitment plans.

I recently agreed to stay another five years in the centre but thought I would see out the year before settling on our long term plans, which of course will include the 40-year celebrations.

While the business started in December the shop didn’t open in West Nicolson Street until the following June as I made the money to finance it selling records at markets and helping out in The Last Record Shop in Lady Lawson Street.

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We are very lucky in that the shop doesn’t need online sales to survive or to constantly try to generate sales by creating exclusive versions of new releases but there are many unique things about Avalanche that customers wish to engage with online and we need to focus more on that next year.

Ideally I’ll bring in two full-time people to help with the shop, our online presence and the 40-year celebrations. I’ve just started accepting CVs this week sent to kevinavalanche at hotmail dot com.

These are permanent long-term jobs not for somebody planning to stay for six months or so as there is a lot to learn even for experienced staff. We are also accepting part-time applications to help fill in any gaps.

I take nothing for granted but Avalanche has never been stronger trading on our own terms now support from artists and record companies is not what it used to be.