Popular indie gift shop Utility is opening up its second Manchester site over in Altrincham where it will take up the old Paperchase space in the Stamford Quarter.
Since opening up on the University Green complex along Oxford Road back in 2018, the independent lifestyle, homeware and gift shop has become a bit of a cult favourite, especially among the students who walk past it most days — and now they’re expanding even further into Greater Manchester.
While Utility only has three locations in the UK (the two others being in Liverpool) their knack for all things quirky, unique and fun, as well as personalised when it comes to gifts, has seen their reputation continue to grow across the North West and now Alty locals will be able to enjoy it too.
Set to fill the unit which once housed Paperchase over on George Street which has been vacant since April, the fourth Utility store is due to open sometime in August although a firm date is still unknown.
As confirmed in an exclusive with Altrincham Today, this will be the first-ever town centre Utility shop since the company began in 1999, with the three others all situated within city centres.
Explaining why they chose the Trafford market town of all places to roll out their new site, co-founder and director Dick Mawdsley said Altrincham has “one of the best high streets in the UK” and since they already have “a big customer base here… it just made a lot of sense”.
Insisting that Utility will not only fit in with some of the best parts this beautiful part of the borough has to offer but also provide something different, he explained how they are “a design-led gift store, and everything has to have either a purpose or be amusing or well designed.”
Still the only independent shop in the Liverpool One shopping centre, he detailed how “around 40% of [their] greeting cards and art prints are our own in-house design products”, and you know much we love a good indie success story.
Speaking on the opening, Bruntwood’s Head of Retail James Tootle said: “Utility will be a fantastic addition to our Stamford Quarter community and it’s wonderful to see the brand expanding with its second store in Greater Manchester here in Altrincham.
“As we continue to see shoppers enjoying everything the town’s high street has to offer, it’s great to be adding exciting, independent brands like this and we’re looking forward to welcoming the Utility team.”
The old Paperchase site they will be taking over sadly shut down earlier this year as the stationery chain announced it was going into administration, seeing the Manchester city centre location close and replaced with a branch of END. Clothing.
The closure also saw the brand selling off its stock for 50% off on the final day of brick-and-mortar trading before it was fully taken over by Tesco, who will continue to sell items online.
In other Alty news, the bustling Greater Manchester suburb is also set to once again play host to this year’s Tour of Britain — a huge coup for the area.
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”