We <3 Manchester

Between us we’ve taken a lot of major shopping trips! We’ve scoured the stores in Barcalona, Berlin, Edinburgh, London, New York, Paris, and even gone as far as Malaysia, Hong Kong and Australia (all the while wishing we had a Mary Poppins bottomless suitcase) but I don’t think either of us have found a shopping destination quite as diverse as Manchester.

For interior home ware nuts like us, there’s enough variety to keep us browsing for the next 100 weekends… could really use a bottomless bank account to go with that Mary Poppins suitcase!

Help me I'm poor

source: sayingimages.com

We have our share of the big high street stores and the infamous Trafford Centre in Manchester, but its the small independents that we love to seek out the most.¬† If you’re a local or are planning a visit sometime soon then check out some of these retail gems, and if we’re nearby we’re always up for a coffee and a chat ūüôā

Quirky Finds

Whether you’re looking for a pair of skull-print tights, a henna tattoo or a pineapple-shaped handbag,¬†you can find anything and everything that’s weird & wonderful in Afflecks.¬†¬†It’s a true Manchester institution, where you can loose hours¬†browsing through¬†four floors of funky fashion, homemade¬†crafts, and¬†vintage home wares, and don’t forget to sneak in a cheeky¬†ice cream¬†at Ginger’s Comfort Emporium at the end.

We can highly recommend the Peanut Butter & Salted Caramel ice cream

Another home ware & gift shop we HAVE to stop at every time we’re in Manchester is Oklahoma.¬† Just like kids pressing their faces to the glass of a candy store, we cannot¬†resist¬†stopping outside¬†and gazing in at the bright, colourful¬†and inviting interior… not that we need an excuse to get out of the¬†grey rainy Manchester weather.

Like Afflecks the place is crammed with cool quirky home wares and gifts, so you have to walk around a few times to make sure you spotted everything on offer.

Abby got some cool wrapping paper with a map of Manhattan printed on it for her wall 

Vintage Treasure

We’re big fans of the touring Vintage Home Show, hosted in the stunning Victoria Baths every few months,¬†which allows just enough time for the bank balance to recover!

At the show¬†there’s an¬†array of mid-century, kitsch and retro home wares and furniture (plus the caf√© boasts some smashing cakes).¬† And after you’ve honed your haggling skills and grabbed yourself a bargain, they have organised tours around the building throughout the day so make sure you bring your camera.

Tavia managed to get this adorable bird cage for a song (sorry, couldn’t help ourselves) and a gorgeous creeper to display inside, all for under ¬£25

If you can’t wait to get your vintage fix on, then check out The Vintage Emporium at Pear Mill, Bredbury.¬† Nestled in between a car garage and sports gear outlet, there’s oodles of retro goodies you can rummage through including fashion, furniture & fabrics.

And yes, it has a cafe too ūüôā

There’s stacks of vintage furniture & accessories available, including this cute wicker suitcase Tavia bought to store¬†all her board games in the living room – a steal at only ¬£15

Bang on Trend

If your taste is more on-trend than of-its-time, then plan a day trip to Altrincham to visit the small but perfectly formed Idaho.¬† The Scandi-style decor gives a good indication of the home wares and gifts you’ll¬†find on offer – loads of cool greys and natural coloured accessories, punctuated with¬†gorgeous metallics.¬†¬†Check out the gold table spoons below!

clockwise from left: Scandi-style décor / stunning dinner wear with a natural colour palette (source: instagram.com/idahoaltrincham) / Health & Beauty gift display (source: instagram.com/idahoaltrincham)

And whilst you’re in Altrincham¬†you must hop across the road to Altrincham Market to peruse¬†all the fantastic home ware, vintage, foodie¬†and craft stalls, offering a plethora of gorgeous knick knacks and yummy treats.¬† The themes of the stalls changes every weekend, so make sure you check the website before planning your trip to see what will be on offer.

You’ll find allsorts of contemporary home wares on offer, like these gorgeous cheese signs made from upcycled forks, or these grey felt mats & concrete planters from Room 356 – they also have some fantastic light fixtures

High-end High Street

Though not strictly in Manchester, Arighi Bianchi is a haven for high-quality pieces and cake (can you see a theme emerging?).  The store is literally a maze, with a multitude of stairways, corridors and mezzanine levels, all jam-packed with furniture in every conceivable style from traditional country cottage beds to futuristic chrome dining sets.

Tavia popped in there for a slice of cake 4 years ago, got lost, and 2 hours later walked out clutching an order for a Harris Tweed sofa!  It was the only way the sales assistant would give her directions to the exit (only joking).

Left: Arighi Bianchi showroom (source: google.co.uk/maps)¬†/ Right: Tavia’s Harris Tweed sofa… that was one expensive piece of cake ūüôā

The price tags may be a stretch for some, but Stocktons in Manchester city centre host some stunning home furnishing brands like Halo Established, and UK designers John Sankey and Timothy Oulton.¬† If you’re looking for a high-design, quality piece of furniture as a centrepiece for your room, then this is the place to visit!

Stocktons showroom

We love the eclectic styling of Stocktons showroom, especially the hot air balloon display hanging from the ceiling (source: google.co.uk/maps)

And right now they have a Clearance Sale!  So if you hurry you could snap up one of these gorgeous pieces before we add them to our basket, and for a fraction of the cost:

Halo Established Arrow Coffee Table £699 / Bluebone Lazy Chair £229


If you’ve found a retail gem you just have to share then let us know.¬† We don’t need much excuse for¬†a retail road trip!

“Get in loser… we’re going shopping!”




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