What do you expect from an independent record shop? Is it just an alternative place to pick up the latest releases or do you value it for more than that – the knowledge the staff impart for free with your purchase? Can you put a price on that advice?

Avalanche Records is a well established independent record store in Edinburgh.

It is much loved and appreciated by indie music fans living in central Scotland and a must see destination for indie fans visiting Edinburgh, as much for the owner’s depth of musical knowledge as his amazing stock.

Here he explains the ups and downs of the need to concentrate on sales versus the desire to support a scene:

I intended to post today to say that I had to concentrate only on things that made money and that I would have to make serious efforts to limit Avalanche’s activities so there was a chance that I could deal with everything without working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week as currently even doing that I am falling behind. So in the spirit of trying to make money I was processing the two large bags of European DVDs that had been delivered. A great deal for me as they are all chosen for being unavailable in the UK, left on consignment and profitable to sell. The opposite of selling new releases on firm sale at little profit.

Anyway halfway through the first bag a nice young couple come up to me and ask if I can help. They like Camera Obscura and have been amazed that so many people in Scotland haven’t known who they were talking about given they are from Uruguay and know all about the band. Somebody had finally recommended they come to the shop as they were looking for similar Scottish artists. I recommend a few other female vocalists and play them a selection. They settle on Emily Scott and Rachel Sermanni surprisingly passing on The Moth and The Mirror but they have a limited budget and would like to go out tonight. Something indie, maybe a bit folkie. Can I recommend anything ?

So I recommend the James Yorkston gig at The Caves explaining it is the 10th anniversary of his album and he is playing with new Fence signing Seamus Fogarty. Understandably they haven’t heard of Fence so I give a quick history. They are so pleased I give them the poster as a souvenir as they head towards the Cowgate. It was a nice end to the day and I fully admit it is what I enjoy about having the shop. However it is no way to run a business. More importantly as the summer approaches this could easily happen half a dozen times a day.

At the same time it is now common for people to buy a couple of things but write down all my recommendations to listen to more later. I must say I get some lovely emails from people about the music I have introduced them to and the gigs they saw but in these hard economic times it simply isn’t a financially viable model. Before there were enough other sales to subsidise promoting Scottish music like this but now that is very much not the case. I am going to need to rethink my rethink!

This was originally posted on the Avalanche Records website, which you can find here.

All words by Vivienne Wilson.

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