Afflecks Palace in Manchester is a totem of indie commerce in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and above all else, a great place to shop for anything from top hats and vintage clothing, to retro toys and old-school sweets. Shopping in Afflecks is far from the ordinary shopping experience. The individual brands are spread across the five storeys in Afflects Palace, with each floor offering exciting novelties to be discovered. Tony Martin, General Manager of Afflecks Palace talks about the store's concept. By Alice McCullagh

Tell us the story behind opening such a unique store in Manchester!
Afflecks, AKA Afflecks Palace was first established in 1982 by Elaine & James Walsh. They had a vision to create an independent market for local designers, offering affordable space to create in and sell their wares.  It was a platform that helped start the careers of Wayne Hemmingway (Red or Dead), Tom Bloxham (Urban Splash) & Vicky Martin.

Impression from inside the store
Impression from inside the store

What are your current most popular shops?  Do you have a personal favorite?
Afflecks as a whole is popular as its offers something different to what is available on the high street; it leads the way in fashion. I honestly do not have a personal favorite as they are all so very unique in their own way.

What trends would you say are ‘in’ at the present time?
Redesigned / re-worked vintage is very popular at the moment and also customization.

So how important is the denim segment for your store?
Denim plays a massive role in the store, especially vintage Levi's denim jackets, a lot of old denim is re-worked and customized and these items are real big sellers.

Who is your ‘typical’ customer? And do customers search for special styles, favourite brands or do they buy spontaneously?
We have a massive student customer base and we are very popular with the alternative market. There are no brands as such, as it tends to be designers ‘own labels’ – people that shop here are fashion conscious individuals that want something different – a unique ‘one off’.

Afflecks Palace in Manchester
Afflecks Palace in Manchester

Do the products sold in Afflecks come solely from the UK?
The majority of items on offer within our walls are Manchester sourced.

What inspires the store, and do you follow the current trends?
Afflecks is a trendsetter, a leader in fashion, what you usually see and buy from Afflecks hits the high street some months after.

Have you spotted any new up-and-coming brands?
Me & Yu, one of our shops on the 3rd floor, a brand that’s popular with celebrities, Agyness Deyn is a big fan and when in Manchester shops there.

Model wearing a shirt from the Afflecks collection
Model wearing a shirt from the Afflecks collection
How important is it for retailers to have their own lines these days?
At Afflecks it’s very important as they are independent designers that want to get their name ‘out there’.

How do you predict the trends to change for 2013?
Trends constantly change and it’s all about being ahead of the game and creating trends of our own.

What has been the biggest challenge of having the store thus far?
The current economical climate has been the biggest challenge, people watching what they spend.

How can you describe Manchester’s famous Northern Quarter? And how does Afflecks Palace suit the location?
The NQ is very trendy, it’s a hub of independent shops, bars and restaurants Afflecks is the anchor of the NQ and was actually the catalyst that started the area off.

Are there any similar stores to Afflecks in cities like Berlin, London or New York?
Camden, London probably comes closest, we have been described as the Camden of the North.

Do you run any social media activities?

We have a massive following on Facebook and Twitter and most of communication and marketing is carried out via social networking sites. But you can also visit our website for more information on the shops, blogs and most recent photos:
Staircase connecting Affleck's different floors
Staircase connecting Affleck's different floors

Is there a role model for your shop? Any store – worldwide – which inspires you?
No, we like to be a role model that inspires others.

Have you had any local celebrities visit the store?
Local & Worldwide celebrities such as, Debbie Harry, Leona Lewis, Agyness Deyn, Alice Cooper, Rio Ferdinand, Chloe Savigny, Jenny Frost, plus lots of television celebrities from Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Hollyoakes and Shameless.