Life

Debbie Harry, Geri Halliwell and Johnny Vegas on Manchester Afflecks jewellery shop’s list of celebrity clientele

By Sarah Hodgson & Neil Robertson

Serving members of Blondie, Def Leppard and the Spice Girls is just another regular day at the office for one Afflecks Palace jewellery shop owner.

Chris Hall, 58, opened Abacus at the now closed Underground Market 30 years ago and moved to the Oldham Street site in 1987.

He now runs it with son Daniel, 25, who has been visiting the shop since he was five years old.

Over the years stars, including Blondie singer Debbie Harry and Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, have visited Abacus to stock-up on Manchester souvenirs.

It has been some journey for the man who started from scratch. “I was selling beads first of all, then jewellery, then people asked for body jewellery and you get lead by what the customers want, really.” Chris said.

He fondly recalls the day that Debbie Harry came in early one Wednesday morning when she was performing in Manchester.

Talking about meeting Blondie star Harry, Chris said: “She is obviously a big hero – she bought a beautiful silver Armour ring and was really nice.

“She was a lot older, like me, which sort of surprised me! She had a very New York-y feel about her, very down to earth, no airs or graces, just walking about on her own.”

Fellow music star Geri Halliwell visited the first-floor shop significance to the date of her visit.

According to Chris, the singer set foot in Abacus on the day of the Spice Girls’ final gig together.

He said: “I thought it was someone coming in trying to look like her, until the security started hanging around!”

Chris quelled suggestions that she made an expensive purchase revealing that she bought a £1.50 eyeliner.

Continuing with the famous faces, Def Leppard drummer, Chris Allen, visited Abacus last year when the band played at the Manchester Arena.

And it’s not just musicians and singers that visit the shop, TV stars including the cast of Coronation Street and Hollyoaks drop in on a regular basis.

On his last visit comedy actor Johnny Vegas purchased an R2D2-style smoking device from Abacus as a prop for sitcom Ideal.

Chris revealed the dilemma of playing host to the stars in his shop: “Usually someone says ‘Do you realise who that was you were just talking to?’” he said.

“Half the time I don’t know who they are!”

Chris says the best part of owning a jewellery shop is the freedom it brings and made clear he is as hungry as ever to make customers happy.

“If you can get it right, it must be a more pleasurable way of living than most,” he said.

And if Abacus can continue to attract big celebrity names then it looks like Chris is set to have a happy working life for many years to come.   

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.

Related Articles