It’s official, Christmas shopping season has arrived. The mad dash is very much on to get all your presents purchased, wrapped and safely under the tree in time for Christmas Day – and we’ve got just the place for you to go, Affleck’s.
Whilst we know some will already be well ahead of the game we expect that most, like us, have still got a few bits to go – so we wanted to champion the benefits of shopping independently whilst there’s still time.
So this Christmas, we decided we’d check out one of the longest-standing hubs for independents in Manchester – indoor NQ market Affleck’s (formerly Affleck’s Palace) – and try and get all of our Christmas presents in one go.
Spoiler alert, we were quite overwhelmed by choice – there are over 50 traders to discover here, plus a tattoo parlour, piercing studio, nail salon, and a host of cute, quirky cafes.
A veritable treasure trove for any gift-giver, but especially the last-minute shopper, if you need to find a present in a hurry we find it hard to believe that Affleck’s could let you down.
A fixture in the city for over 40 years, it’s got it all. From an array of quirky mugs and cards to vintage clothing items, local artwork, figurines, jewellery and more, no matter who you’re buying for there’s definitely something here to be discovered. All you have to do is look.
Keep reading to discover some of our top picks for independent Christmas shopping at Affleck’s in Manchester this December.
Vinyl Resting Place
The home of all things vinyl at Affleck’s, whether you’re looking for rare 7″, old LPs or some bootleg remixes of your favourite track, this is the place to hunt for it. Everything in the store is pre-loved and has been hand-picked by its owners over the course of 15 years.
We spent quite a decent amount of time scouring the folk section, which is extensive, but all genres are covered here – from rock and pop, to hip-hop, house, techno, americana, low-fi, gospel, soul, funk and everything in between. There’s also a big rack of CDs to get stuck into.
The LGBTQ+ Book Store
From autobiographies and biographies of famous LGBTQ+ people, to feminist literature, contemporary fiction, children’s booksw and so much more, there’s a section for everything at the LGBTQ+ book store.
A relatively new addition to Affleck’s, it’s definitely a welcome one – and standing in it makes you realise just how many amazing queer authors we have to celebrate. From fictional romance and thrilllers, to true real life stories of queer experience told to you straight by the people that’ve lived them, we could easily lose a few hours in here.
Earth Friendly Rocker
The heart of sustainability, Earth Friendly Rock has everything you need to make your lifestyle a little bit greener. Stocking everything from bamboo toothbrushes and eco-friendly soaps, to sustainable candles, shampoo bars, bath bombs, fudge and more, if you want it chances are they’ve got it.
Present-wise, we spotted some pretty-looking slabs of vegan fudge (called Slab, conveniently), huge glass jars filled with cookie mix, bars of oat milk chocolate, self-help books to inspire your new sustainable lifestyle and more.
Mad for Art
First begun as a hobby by its Middleton-based owners back in 2017, today Mad for Art can be found on the first floor of Affleck’s selling a whole host of vintage prints ranging from vintage films and pin-ups to iconic old Vogue covers, adverts for Martini, Campari and luxury perfumes, plus images of music legends, classic cars, food, travel and more.
Honestly, we could’ve spent hours digging in here – there are so many brilliant pieces to uncover.
Inspired Life CBD
CBD seems like it’s everywhere now, but if you’re looking for the best quality products on the market Inspired Life CBD on the first floor of Affleck’s is a shout.
Selling 100% organic, natural products, you can find everything from tea and chocolate to CBD-infused massage oil here – with a friendly owner on hand to explain all the nuances of each product in detail. Great for easing stress, anxiety and better sleep, it’s an all-natural remedy (and yes, it’s made from Cannabis but it’s won’t get you high).
Head to the top floor of Affleck’s to find Sour Cherry – the prettiest, quirkiest little jewellery shop. Whilst there are so many jewellery-makers in the market to discover, each with their own niche, we were particularly taken with Sour Cherry, which sells quirky earrings, necklaces and more in fun shapes like gingerbread men, fruit and animals.
One of the first shops you’ll enter on your way in, Luna has it all for the last-minute Christmas shopping dash. Mugs, beanies, jewellery, patches, accessories, you name it – it’s here.
We picked up a brilliant mug, but the team here is really known for their pin badges, all of which are made by the team in-house.
Feature image – The Manc Group
New cycle lanes and beer gardens closed as Northern Quarter building deemed ‘unsafe’
A section of the new cycleway through the Northern Quarter has been temporarily closed just weeks after opening, after a historic building was deemed to be ‘unsafe’.
Metal fences have now been erected on Thomas Street, blocking part of the cycle lanes and taking over valuable outdoor space for the bars and restaurants along the street.
The building in question stands on the corner of Thomas Street and John Street, once home to the Al Faisal takeaway.
It’s part of a block of 19th century properties in the area that back in 2018 were deemed to be in ”imminent danger of collapse’.
Councillors now say that the Northern Quarter building is unsafe, and will need to be propped up with scaffolding.
The owners of the building want to protect its historic facade but are unable to begin work immediately due to the high construction costs.
But until the scaffolding can be built, temporary fencing has been erected to protect members of the public.
It’s understood that the work will take up to 10 working days to complete.
Several images of the fencing have been circulation on social media, with the NQHQ account tweeting: “If you thought the cycleway through the Northern Quarter was sh*t…..well it just got sh*tter.”
Piccadilly Labour have said: “Building on the corner unfortunately deemed unsafe. Cllr @JonConnorLyons met with the owners who are putting up scaffolding and want to preserve the facade of the building – current construction costs are incredibly high for them to proceed with the development plans this year.”
Councillor Jon-Connor Lyons then added: “Winter weather has made the building vulnerable & cracks have formed which has resulted in the building having to be supported by scaffolding, whilst this happens, these fences have been put up to protect the public. Some reveal in this sort – that is a shame.”
Although the fencing is there in the public’s interest, several local hospitality businesses are concerned about the impact this will have on trade – especially as the fencing has appeared during the heatwave, when punters will be wanting to be outdoors to make the most of the sunny weather.
The Smithfield Social, which is part-owned by the Courteeners’ Liam Fray, has lost a chunk of its outdoor seating – though it does still have space for tables on Edge Street.
A spokesperson for the bar said: “The building works which commenced yesterday have impacted our outside trade significantly.
“We usually have eight tables out the front but after lengthy talks with councils and licensing we have come up with a solution which means we now have a severely reduced area with only four tables.
“The area seems to be an after thought as we are the only business affected by it. Fierce have moved their area but they do not lose any space.
“I have no doubt that we have lost significant patronage because of this, as who wants to sit outside with heavy machinery next to you and dust being blown in your face? Quite unfortunate timing with the great weather we are forecast to have over the coming days.”
The Manc has approached Manchester City Council for comment.
Featured image: The Manc Group
New stations appear across Manchester for city’s rentable ‘Burnham bike’ scheme
The roll-out of Greater Manchester’s Bee Bike cycle hire scheme has stepped up a gear, with new docking stations appearing across the city centre.
The scheme, nicknamed the ‘Burnham bikes’ as a nod to London’s ‘Boris bikes’, initially launched in Salford and along the Oxford Road corridor.
Several new yellow stations have appeared around Manchester now, with plenty more on the way.
The next phase of the roll-out of the Bee Bikes has seen stations installed around St Peter’s Square and Manchester Central.
By the time the scheme is complete, bike numbers will increase to 1,500, which will include 300 e-bikes.
It’s all part of the vision for a Bee Network – a joined-up, integrated public transport network across the region.
And it’s certainly off to a more successful start than Mobike, which famously withdrew from Manchester due to high levels of vandalism and theft.
The Bee Bikes are funded by TgGM and operated by Beryl, which runs similar schemes in London, Watford and Bournemouth.
Richard Nickson, programme director, Cycling and Walking at Transport for Greater Manchester, said: “The cycle hire scheme has really taken off in Greater Manchester since it was first introduced, and we are seeing significant numbers of riders and distances travelled by on the bikes- which is fantastic, particularly as we are still in the early days of the scheme’s roll out.
“The next phase of the roll-out has now started in Manchester city centre, with new stations installed at key locations including Manchester Central Library, Manchester Central Convention Centre and St Peter’s Square.