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emilyhayden
23rd February 2022

Happy 40th Birthday Afflecks: The iconic Manchester market

A chat with the vendors of Affleck’s and a look into the history of the famous indoor market as it approaches a big milestone
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Happy 40th Birthday Afflecks: The iconic Manchester market
Photo: Emily Hayden @ The Mancunion

This year will see the 40th birthday of one of the most well known and loved locations in Manchester. Whether you want to shop for some alternative or creative items, have a coffee, or even get a tattoo, Afflecks has been the go-to spot for generations. The indoor market has even been visited by a few famous guests, such as Lady Gaga, the Happy Mondays, and The Stone Roses. This article will delve deeper into the history of Afflecks, and celebrate some of the amazing vendors which create its buzzing and vibrant atmosphere.

Afflecks started out as Affleck and Brown, a drapery vendor on Oldham Street in the 1860s. However, after the Second World War, Affleck and Brown were taken over and replaced by Debenhams before properly closing in 1973.

Photo: Christopher Elison @ Flickr
Photo: Christopher Elison @ Flickr

But the spirit of Afflecks could not be extinguished from Manchester, and in 1982, James and Elaine Walsh opened Affleck’s Palace in the Northern Quarter. Their aim for Affleck’s Palace was to create a nurturing and safe environment for independent vendors to sell their goods without complicated contracts, and a sense of creative freedom was encouraged.

The 1990s saw Affleck’s Palace popularised by the alternative community of Manchester, and it became famous for fashionable items such as flares and tie-dyed clothing. The indoor market was thriving, and highly popular with students – as it still is today.

However, the famous establishment faced another hurdle in 2008, when its lease expired, and its future was thrown into jeopardy. Luckily, the indoor market was bought out by landlords Bruntwood, who looked for a manager with more expertise in the field.

Photo @ Afflecks.com

After nearly closing down, and an unprecedented fire in 2013, Afflecks and the people that run it have hurdled many obstacles to keep the beloved indoor market as vibrant as ever.

I decided, after delving into Afflecks’ past, that a trip to the establishment to find out more was necessary. Despite it being a rainy Monday morning, Afflecks stood proudly in the Northern Quarter. The beautiful paintings on the outside of the building provided some colour on a grey day. When I went in, I explored the various shops, with products ranging from gothic clothing, to a beautiful array of crystals, to a print shop with beautiful paintings and prints.

I walked into Trouser Project, a colourful corner on the 2nd floor of the indoor market where I was drawn in by the beautiful paintings and clothing covering the walls. I was welcomed by Megan, who gave me a warm smile and let me chat with her about what she does as a vendor, and whether she enjoys working at Afflecks.

Megan from Trouser Project surrounded by her products
Photo: Emily Hayden @ The Mancunion

Megan said, “This business is called Trouser Project, and we do sustainable and upcycled clothing – it’s all hand-painted, one-off pieces. We have 18 artists involved so we are a collective, everyone has their own brand and we share the space together.

“Working in Affleck’s is really great – it’s a good way to start a business I think. You’re surrounded by people who are all doing similar things, and everyone is always up for helping each other.”

It was great to chat with someone who has experienced the buzzing atmosphere first-hand, and her creativity was so beautifully displayed in the establishment, with her clothing creating a beautiful display.

Afflecks is a gem in the heart of Manchester, and the establishment is well-deserving of a celebration – so next time you are in the Northern Quarter, it is well worth a visit, to be immersed in the warm, exciting environment and get a taste of its colourful history.


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