I’ve walked past Hatch many times throughout my years in Manchester, but never ventured inside it. Last week that changed as I attended Bruntwood Dines, Drinks and Shops – an event hosted by Bruntwood showcasing the various independent retailers that are housed within Hatch.
It was inspiring to listen to an all female panel who were sharing their experience of working in Hatch. It was a valued escape from the male dominated world of CEOs and was refreshing to only have women in the spotlight – who certainly deserved it.
The three brands represented were Jenny Maxwell from Nordic Muse, a Nordic inspired jewellery shop; Barbara at Choc, a chocolate boutique; and Nicki Gillon from The Kitchen, a family run Thessaloniki style restaurant. Together these business founders discussed the importance of having spaces like Hatch, with affordable rent for independent businesses to be given a chance to have a physical presence. Whilst internet shopping is becoming more and more popular, it was pointed out that having a location is still valuable for face-to-face interactions with customers; providing the personal experience that keeps them coming back.
Having spaces like Hatch means that being self-employed becomes less isolating. Self-employment has been on the rise in recent years and, whilst it comes with benefits, there is no doubt that it is easy to feel secluded without office buddies. All three women emphasised how great the support network is when working in a space with like-minded individuals who are also small business owners.
Large shopping centres like The Trafford Centre, which are purpose-built structures to cram as many shops into one space for convenience, have changed how we shop. Hatch is trying to move shopping back to the high streets, into the hands of local and independent traders. The flexible pop-up approach making it accessible for new businesses, and a more personal and relaxed shopping experience for customers.
I’m curious to explore what else is on offer inside these industrial shipping containers, promised to be filled with innovative ideas, and I will be returning sooner rather then later.