The new Oldham Street store stocking Manchester merch from Pankhurst to Mancunicorns
Emmeline Pankhurst stares out from the heart of a cotton t-shirt. Lyrics from Oasis and The Smiths embellish mugs, serving a shot of candour with your morning coffee. And the Mancunicorn – the biproduct of a frisky encounter between Liam Gallagher and a millennial unicorn – is emblazoned on just about everything.
Welcome to The Manchester Shop, the latest addition to Affleck’s Palace, paying homage to some of most Manchester’s most famed symbols and exports.
The shop is a sister store to Manc and Proud, already a firm favourite in Affleck's Palace, with a similar penchant for bold graphic t-shirts and all things Manc.
Of course, a Manchester-themed store would be incomplete without the worker bee, a city symbol which gained nationwide attention following last year’s arena attack. As Manchester came together under the bees' beating wings (over 10,000 got a bee tattoo in order to raise money), a staggering £20million was raised to support those affected by the attack.
“All of our staff were affected by the bombing in some way,” explains store owner Miki Christi, who had friends working at the arena on the night of the attack. “So, like many people in Manchester, we wanted to help in some way.”
“My team and I were devastated by the terrible tragedy on 22 May and felt like we wanted to use our business to help, not just the emergency fund but the people of Manchester who were looking for a collective identity so that they could mourn together.
"We took one of our designs and sold it, with all profits, £10 of each t-shirt, going to the Manchester emergency fund. The response was epic.”
Christi and her team raised over £13,000 through sales of the Manc and Proud logo tee.
It was after realising the potential of the store’s strong Manchester identity that the idea for The Manchester Shop was born. To continue to give back to the community that inspired it, the new Oldham Street store lends its hand to support Forever Manchester, a charity that raises funds for community activity across Greater Manchester.
“We will also be using our in-house print and design team to produce products for (Forever Manchester) based on the work of the poet Tony Walsh, who generously donated the rights to his This is the Place poem to the charity - all profits will go directly to them.
"We'll be selling products directly from the shop, and Forever Manchester will be selling them online to produce funds and awareness for the amazing work they do.”
Christi will also be providing the charity with retail space within the shop, so they benefit from Afflecks' steady footfall.
Currently, The Manchester Shop is perfect for any proud Manc or tourist that wants something genuinely Manchester-inspired. Visitors can purchase replicas of comedian Frank Sidebottom’s iconic papier mâché head in embroidered badge form, Madchester-inspired memorabilia and the ubiquitous bee - found on everything from pendants to sequinned cushions and baby grows.
While they may share certain themes, products are a far cry from the tat peddled by most of the city’s tourist shops. There are no red London buses, for example, or sheepdogs (as seen in one shop on Piccadilly Gardens).
Though sceptics may call it gimmicky, the shop feels more like a tasteful tribute to the city’s identity.
“I come from a long line of proud Mancs and wanted to create products fellow Mancunians could use and wear to show their pride in our wonderful city. I wanted the brand to be sustainable, made in house where possible, thus creating and providing people with sustainable jobs within the city centre."
All products are designed and printed in-house at the Printopolis above the store. There's also talk of working with local cotton mills to make the store truly Manchester-made.
“(Oldham Street) is a great space in a vibrant, bonkers part of town. It’s lovely to hear everyone sharing stories in our space and being generally proud of our lovely city. It’s also great for tourists and visitors to be in a space where true Mancs are sharing their stories and histories.”