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Roll up, Roll up!

Manchester Arndale market opened its doors last week as part of Manchester Arndale’s multi million pound facelift…

Published on September 11th 2006.

Roll up, Roll up!

Forget preconceptions. Put out any images that you have of ‘the Arndale Market’, and approach this with completely fresh eyes.

As part of the multi million redevelopment of the old Arndale, which has now become ‘Manchester Arndale: Super duper world class shopping centre’ (that’s not the official tag line, but it should be), the old market has been completely ripped out, fiddled around with and put back, virtually unrecognisable from its former self.

As I remember the market of old, it was the Mordor of the Arndale, hidden away at ‘the cheap end’ of the shopping centre, emitting foul smells and swarming with tracksuit clad, pram pushing teenagers and shady characters. Perhaps my memory has become slightly inflated over time, but I do know that despite a great butchers and a hot chicken stall, it wasn’t the kinda place that you would want to spend too much time in.

With the new market, Manchester Arndale has gone back to basics, and has provided Manchester with a real market, in its truest sense. The emphasis no longer seems to be on cheapness, which was the main selling point of the old market, but on local produce, fresh food and independent businesses, the kinds that have been pushed off the high streets by faceless behemoth chain stores.

Accessible from High Street in the indie Northern Quarter, or through the stunning Winter Garden area of the Arndale (where did that come from?!), the market is divided into two areas, keeping all those food smells away from the clothes and so on. While the clothes stalls are as is to be expected; bon marché, cheap-as-chips, clothe your family for a tenner places, the food and health and beauty stalls really raise the profile.

Like a breath of fresh air for city centre residents looking for fresh food, the market brings together your traditional butcher, baker and candlestick maker of old, providing a real alternative to the pre packaged wonders of Tesco and Sainsburys metros. The fish market has a beautifully displayed selection of every type of seafood imaginable, including a (very real) shark, while a specialty tea shop, a fresh cheese shop whose smell grabs you as you walk past, a traditional butcher and a colorful greengrocers add real character to the market.

Another pull of the market is its independent health and beauty shops. With not a 50p glittery nail polish in sight, there are some beautiful products to be found. A particular favourite is the Grasmere based Mother Earth shop, which sells hand made, 100% natural beauty and aromatherapy products. It ain’t cheap, but it’s excellent quality, and oozes good-for-you vibes. Click here for more.

Wandering around the market, with its cosmopolitan hustle and bustle and charismatic shopkeepers, there’s a real sense of community that is sometimes lacking in the city centre. Giving Manchester residents the much needed chance to shop for fresh produce in a comfortable environment, its focus seems to be less on saving pennies, and more on bringing back some old world charm by giving independent local traders and a look in amongst the sea of supermarkets and convenience stores.

Jayne Robinson
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Manchester Arndale Market

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