Ian Rankin’s favourite Edinburgh record store, Avalanche, to shut down after 20 years as hub for local acts

Avalanche owner Kevin Buckle
Avalanche owner Kevin Buckle
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IT has served as a hub for music fans in the city for more than 20 years.

But the announcement that Avalanche Records is to close its Grassmarket shop in January has sent vinyl-lovers into a spin.

Online downloads, the new practice of bands selling direct to fans and a lack of fresh bodies in the door have all conspired against the store, which prided itself on offering a springboard to the best of local Scottish talent.

Owner Kevin Buckle’s announcement that he is within weeks of closure has prompted a host of celebrity customers such as author Ian Rankin, 52, comedian Sean Hughes, 47, and former Simple Minds manager Bruce Findlay, 68, to decry its impending loss.

Rankin, an avid vinyl collector and customer, said: “This would be a big loss. Avalanche has always supported local bands plus new and upcoming artists; all that Edinburgh would be left with is HMV and Fopp, which are in no way the same.

“The city just wouldn’t be the same without it. For me, I like to walk into a shop and chat with the staff, check out the artwork and hear what’s new. It’s always good to walk in and talk with Kevin about music and buy some records on his recommendation. I hope they can find a way to keep going because it would be pretty devastating if it closed.”

The shop, which has traded in the centre of Edinburgh for the past 20 years, is likely to shut its doors in 
January, although it plans to continue trading online. If it is to close it will become one of a long line of much-loved local record stores to shut – shops such as Bruce’s Record Shop, Ards, Ezy Ryder, Rhythm Rack, The Other Record Shop and Bandparts have all long since gone.

Comedian Sean Hughes is another long-time customer. He said: “This would be a crying shame. Anyone in Edinburgh who is a real music fan, could you please buy your next purchase from this shop.”

The comic added: “This is a direct message to Alex Salmond, if you want a truly independent Scotland, start by helping to save a truly independent Scottish shop.”

Shop owner Kevin said he isn’t attracting enough trade to make the shop – based in Cockburn Street until 2010 – viable.

“I had to draw a line somewhere and that’s why I elected a closing date. We just don’t have enough local regular customers to sustain a city centre base.

“All isn’t lost yet, though. I’m in talks with the Scottish Music Industry Association and maybe we can work something out. One project we’re working on is to send Avalanche’s best-selling albums to 30 of the best record shops in the world – but things are moving so slowly.”

City’s disappearing independent music shops

• Bruce’s: Having opened their first record shop in Falkirk in 1967, brothers Bruce and Brian Findlay (pictured) launched a second shop in Rose Street two years later. In business until the early 80s, Bruce’s Record Shop specialised in US imports and underground rock and esd famous for its red carrier bags with the legend “I Found It At Bruce’s”.

• Bandparts: Situated on Antigua Street, it was one of the few record stores in the Capital where customers could listen to albums in 60s-style listening booths. The shop, owned by Ronnie Blacklock and his wife Dorothy is mentioned in Irvine Welsh’s 2001 novel, Glue.

• Vinyl Villains: Established in 1983, Vinyl Villains, situated on Elm Row, is one of the few surviving old-school record shops in the Capital.

• Ezy Ryder: Located in Oddfellows’ Hall and sharing its space with a clothes retailer, the shop sold masses of second-hand records – some for as little as 2p each. It traded until 1984.