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Best Manchester Shopping

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Mancunians sometimes joke that kids grow up with one of two sports—soccer or shopping. If you’re better at the latter, you won’t be disappointed; with thousands of hip, interesting stores, shopping in Manchester might even offer a better workout than a soccer match. High Street stores are spread out in the city centre, while the huge Trafford Centre offers double the fun. In St. Ann’s Square you’ll find a few more upscale boutiques, as well as the excellent Manchester Fine Food Market for a bite to eat in between the fitting rooms. In the Northern Quarter, Manchester shopping brims with interesting spots to pick up vintage fashion and international labels, as well as artsy stores, quirky shoe shops and delis. Don’t miss Afflecks, which is a veritable independent shopping mecca. Music, of course, is the lifeblood of this northern city; take a break from iTunes and see what you can find in the way of obscure vinyl at Kingbee Records. A word of advice: Make sure you leave enough space in your suitcase for all your purchases.

Fred Aldous

Neighborhood: Northern Quarter

If the arty shops of the Northern Quarter have got you dripping creative juices, you’ll want to head to Fred Aldous, supplying the creative mind since 1886. This place stocks art supplies from A to Z, including old-school plaster of Paris or feathers for a night out on Canal Street. The craft shop’s history is equally impressive; Fred Aldous set up shop with a handcart in 1886, importing canes and willows to be used as baskets in the cotton trade. The shop’s current premises were first used in 1966, and these days Fred Aldous even has a happiness director.

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Fred Aldous  

Kingbee Records

Neighborhood: Chorlton

Spent years searching fruitlessly for Jimmy Beaumont’s 1966 Northern Soul LP "‘You Got Too Much Going for You?" Kingbee Records might be your answer. Stocking everything from obscure 7-inchers to proper Manc music—think Black Grape, something by The Fall or a bit of Badly Drawn Boy—this gem of an independent music shop in Chorlton sells hard-to-find vinyl for less than 20 quid. No surprise, then, that Kingbee Records draws collectors from all over the world.

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Kingbee Records  

Fred Nichols

Neighborhood: City Centre

Harvey Nicks, as it’s known, was synonymous with glamour back in the 1990s. When the first branch in the north of England opened up in Leeds, northern fashion really came into its own. The Manchester branch is a symbol of the rise of the north…and therefore well worth a visit even if you can’t bear to look at the price tags on the clothes. There’s also a souvenir area, café, bistro and restaurant, which—in keeping with all Harvey Nicks dining areas—offers great views out over the city centre.

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Fred Nichols  

Afflecks

Neighborhood: Northern Quarter

Afflecks has nothing to do with the star of "Good Will Hunting" or "Armageddon," but checking it out is still a nice way to spend an afternoon when shopping in Manchester. An indoor market with hundreds of quirky, individual stalls, Afflecks spans four floors and is the perfect antidote to a few hours at the Trafford Centre. Our top picks: Not For Ponies clothing, chocolates from The Cocoa Emporium, British knickers from Pants and shoes from Big Toes. As Oasis used to say during the Madchester era, sorted.

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Afflecks  

The Trafford Centre

Neighborhood: City Centre

Something else entirely, this huge shopping centre is so shiny it makes eyes water. It’s easier to list what you can’t find here than what you can: hundreds of High Street stores, a 20-screen movie theater, 18 10-pin bowling lanes, a climbing wall, laser quest and an 18-hole indoor golf course. There’s also a dizzying choice of food court and restaurant options, including the Danish eatery Kro and Gourmet Burger King (no relation of the fast food chain, although of course there’s one of those, too).

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The Trafford Centre  
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