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Traders set their stall out in Afflecks

Heather Price finds fewer students but thriving businesses in Bruntwood arcade

Written by . Published on June 14th 2011.

Traders set their stall out in Afflecks

ASHLEY Grumble is seeing steady growth in his underpants. His business selling them in Afflecks, that is.

Grumble has had a shop called Pants in the Bruntwood-owned independents’ arcade for just over a year, selling brightly-coloured undies. He says his customer base is growing thanks to an increased footfall at the arcade, which almost closed in 2008.

“I’ve only been open around fifteen months, but so far it’s going pretty well,” he said. “I import my stock from other small businesses around the world. From places like New York and Canada I can get small brands like Piss and Vinegar, which a lot of my customers find quite cool and different.”

“Affleck’s has always been a haven for those looking for something different, something unique; that’s why we’ve always attracted a lot of students.”

Affleck’s is trading well and is charging fair rents, according to several businesses Confidential spoke to inside the venue, although Vanessa Cawley, manager of funky fancy dress shop American Graffiti, claims fewer students are passing through the doors.

Cawley has been running her business since 1982, a decade which was ‘the arcade’s heyday.’

“Affleck’s has always been a haven for those looking for something different, something unique; that’s why we’ve always attracted a lot of students”

“Now, because of the recession, we’re not as busy as we used to be. Because of the government cuts, we’re losing a large part of our student customer base. Nobody really has the money anymore”.

Daniel Hall, manager of independent jewellery and accessories store Abacus, says the arcade is pulling in the tourists though.

“We’re busiest on Saturdays, not just because it’s the weekend, but because we attract tourists from around the world,” he said.

Sacred Trinity 047Afflecks - still interestingHall says he makes a good turnover from his Zippo lighters because they’re much cheaper here than in Japan or China, as well as being collectable. He argues small businesses like his and the many others in Affleck’s are the key to the arcade’s success.

“Small businesses are more flexible, more maintainable,” he said. “They adapt accordingly to changes in the market and they don’t suffer as badly. We have been able to expand a little bit – we’ve got our own website and I’m hoping to open another little shop somewhere else one day.”

All three agree Bruntwood’s rental charges are fair – although they would not disclose what they were paying - and they are treated well by their landlords. There’s a year-long waiting list to open up in the arcade.

Grumble thinks that as long as the arcade continues to stand out, it will remain a vibrant and important part of Manchester’s retail mix.

“My underwear appeals to men who want something other than those big designer labels; those faceless brands that dominate the high street,” he said. “And that’s what Afflecks is all about.”

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AnonymousJune 21st 2011.

Haven't been to Affleck's in ages ... I might just go for a wander round after reading this, though. Interesting article!

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