Having visited most of the big cities in the UK, one thing that always strikes me is how little variation there is between those outside the capital city. They usually have the same main street with the usual suspect retailers doing their thing. Living just outside Manchester has its benefits though. Although it has the same similar shops as the likes of Birmingham, Sheffield and Leeds, it has a growing area suited to independents too.
Love it or hate it, the Northern Quarter continues to grow, particularly clothing shops. It’s an area which only ten years ago was associated with a slightly different type of gear as the one synonymous with it now. Oi Polloi remains at the heart of things but surrounding it are several shops with a similar appreciation for nice coats and jackets, but from the past rather than the present. Bags of Flavor is long established, having settled opposite the old Oi Polloi on Tib Street. Rich has been going for years and his little corner of vintage mintage is a must-visit if you’re in town looking for a one-off.
Another place well worth a look is Bionic Seven. Until last week, they were squeezed between two proper curry cafes pretty much facing the aforementioned OP. The need to branch out plus the impending development of some sort of hotel around their block means a move was necessary. They’re now a five minute walk closer to Piccadilly Station, just about within the Northern Quarter, depending on where you reckon the boundaries fall. It’s a part of town which is less busy than the Oldham Street/Thomas Street axis but with the excellent Port Street Beerhouse just across the road and a few other understated independents, it’ll be no surprise to see footfall increase in the next couple of years.
Bionic Seven have Nick and Imran at the helm. Two clothing obsessives with an eye for the right type of old stuff. They also recently enlisted former Oi Polloi face John ‘Browny’ Wilcock. You’ll have seen him on their Deck Outs over the years, not to mention on the shop floor. Speaking of floors though, the new Bionic Seven has three. The ground floor and first floor contain all sorts of tweed/nylon/goretex/cotton concoctions, while they’re looking for someone to take on their third floor. Right now, they don’t need it so if you’re interested, pop in and see them or give them a call.
The nature of vintage shops mean they come and go. Places like Bags of Flavor have endured because they’ve always favoured quality over quantity, and Bionic Seven are similar. With their eBay site getting busier and perhaps their own website in the future, they’ll hopefully be around for a few years more.
Plus, the stock Proper too.