‘You don’t have to fit in to be happy’: MM peels back the layers of Afflecks Palace

Manchester’s Afflecks Palace opened in 1981 in a building previously occupied by a department store named Affleck and Brown.

The self-described ‘emporium of eclecticism’ brings in almost 24,000 shoppers every week, flocking to browse through the huge variety of over 70 independent shops – which range from vintage clothing, jewellery, music, art, fancy dress and jewellery.

So why is Afflecks so beloved? MM went to question its employees to find out their opinion.

Laura, 33, is the manager of one of the many cafes in the emporium. She has worked there for three to four years, and used to shop there whilst at college.

She said she liked how she ‘couldn’t find such stuff elsewhere’, which was why she enjoyed it so much. Now that she works there, Laura loves the sense of community.

“We all know each other by name,” she told MM.

Laura believes that the appeal of Afflecks to its customers is down to its attractiveness to punk, goth, and alternative youths, who – like her – believe they can’t find items that Afflecks provides elsewhere.

A young girl working in The Bead Shop, a place specialising in crafts and jewellery-making supplies, also shed some light on the strength behind the emporium.

Describing how she likes working there simply because she’s ‘weird’, Katrina, 19, said that she loves Afflecks due to its welcoming atmosphere and co-operative co-workers.

Katrina explained: “I’ve never had a bad experience in the year I’ve worked here.”

Another person we talked to was a woman running a stall called The Alternative Attic, selling handmade grunge and gothic hoodies, stickers, and badges.

Nez, 26, set up her business through the Manchester Youth Market, a charity that helps 16 to 30-year-olds to set up their own shop, stall and other retail spaces.

Nez told us how she was ‘always the odd one out’ and created her company to let people know that being the odd one out is OK.

She proudly announced:  “You don’t have to fit in to be happy.”

Nez enjoys working in Afflecks because of the crowd it attracts – people who her niche is aimed at.

Afflecks is clearly important to the ‘outsiders’ of Manchester.

A property owner of the market said: “[Afflecks is a] Manchester icon that we [want] to protect,” confirming its iconic position in a city full of culture.

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