Afflecks in Manchester, England

As the second largest city in the United Kingdom, Manchester has many places to shop, with many national and international chains present throughout the city center. However, one of Manchester’s most noted shopping destinations, which is well known by locals but not as widely advertised to tourists, is Afflecks in the Northern Quarter.

The building currently containing Afflecks was originally a Victorian-era business owned by R. Lomas. Lomas’s business sold mantles, loose garments worn over other clothes. Eventually, this business merged with a department store across the street named Affleck and Brown, once considered the Harrods of the North. However, the general decline of businesses in the area in the 1960s and 1970s, in large part because of the opening of the nearby Manchester Arndale shopping mall, led to the store closing in 1973.

In 1982, James and Elaine Walsh wanted to set up a new indoor shopping venue for independent businesses and alternative culture in the city and identified the shuttered Victorian building as a good place to establish this new venture. They signed a 25-year lease with the owners of the building, reopened the building that year, and renamed it Affleck’s Palace. Despite the economic hardships and high unemployment in Manchester in the 1980s, the new shopping venue not only survived but also initiated the formation of an entirely new, trendy neighborhood: Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

Affleck’s Palace, which was shortened to just Afflecks in 2008, suffered a series of challenges over the years, which included not only more general economic downtowns and the disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic but also two fires, a change in management, and major uncertainty about whether the lease would be renewed at the end of the initial 25 year period. However, the venue has endured all of these hardships.

Today, Afflecks is a major part of Manchester’s independent shopping experience, with over 70 businesses operating within the building. While clothes are the most popular sales items, other shops sell art, jewelry, crafts, vinyl records, crystals, toys, LGBT flags, and other items. The building is also home to a few different eateries and beauty and wellness businesses.

Additionally, the interior of this building is decorated with posters and street art, while the exterior includes a set of mosaics celebrating Manchester’s history and a metallic steel tree. Shoppers looking for mainstream shops still crowd the nearby mall, but shoppers looking for alternative goods crowd Afflecks.

Know Before You Go

Afflecks is open 7 days a week during normal business hours, with entrances on Oldham, Church, and Tib Streets. An elevator is available to travel between the floors of the building, but this lift is only accessible from the Church Street entrance, which has stairs; visitors with limited mobility will need to call ahead beforehand to get access to this entrance via a mobile ramp.

Afflecks is located near Manchester’s city center and is easily accessible by public transport and pedestrians walking from other parts of the city center. A parking garage is located across the street and another is attached to the nearby Manchester Arndale mall.

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