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13 February, 2007

Alternative needed

It's not the first time, but it looks as if Afflecks Palace, Manchester really is under threat of closure and redevelopment.

The current lease on the building expires in four months, but the owner, Bruntwood, has failed to state whether it'll be renewed. There's a bit of an impasse, as Bruntwood won't commit to anything without talking to tenants (about 100 traders) effectively 'off the record' about necessary renovation work and, presumably, considerable rent increases, yet the tenants won't enter into talks until Bruntwood provide a formal statement of intent (as is required by property law).

It'd be awful if Afflecks Palace closed or was replaced by 'mainstream' retail – especially if the name was retained. It's the very heart; no, soul of the 'creative' Northern Quarter, and the whole district would be diminished by its loss or corporate dilution.
More personally, I don't visit much more than annually, but I'd still miss it; Helen has shopped there since the late 1980s, so would would be particularly upset.

Comments on the Manchester Evening News report unanimously oppose the potential loss (which is only potential at this stage – let's not overreact to a mere lack of communication), particularly the obvious assumption that individual traders would be priced out of the building in favour of ubiquitous chain stores. For once, I agree.

To quote myself, I don't believe in supporting small retailers merely to support them. If corner shops and independent bookshops are out-competed by supermarkets and national chains, too bad; they represent obsolete market sectors which should be allowed to die if they're unwilling or unable to offer something unique. Yet the traders of Afflecks Palace do provide something unique and of value, and having them in one creative community does matter.
It somewhat goes against my nature to say it, but without the support and interdependence of the Afflecks Palace community, individual traders mightn't be able to continue at all. Stalls selling, say, handmade jewellery, wouldn't have the manufacturing output to meet the sales volumes required to, in turn, pay the rent on a high-street shop. Besides, could you imagine shops like 'V 2 F' being able to find high-street retail space?

[Via Spinneyhead.]


I went to Affleck's Palace for the first time last year and fell in love with the place - it's awesome and would be a real shame if it did close down.

The Corn Exchange in Leeds is about the closest thing we have to it, but many of the shops there are part of small chains (like Exit and Travelling Man), and there are fewer niche independent traders.

Posted by Neil T. at February 13, 2007 11:56 PM

Oh no - every few weeks we hear about an independent record shop or something like that closing. Afflecks Palace is great - I've found some great records there.

Posted by looby at February 15, 2007 01:21 PM
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