We Are One: Catalog…

Tools, holiday baggage, coffee, recycling, small children: some of the items typically transported on a cargo bike by the eco-minded.

Maybe because doing things differently is our thing, Catalog’s founder Peter, originally from Greece, chose Manchester as the perfect place to reinvent the cargo bike as a bookshop.

Based next to All Saints Park on Oxford Road, Catalog is an independent bookshop and speciality magazine space, built on a bespoke cargo bike. The sustainable bookshop celebrated it’s first birthday on April 13th, and in this week’s blog Peter tells us about the last 12 months and what’s coming next…

Peter and his Catalog book shop on Oxford Road.

Happy biz birthday! How does it feel to be one year old?

Catalog is 1 year old!!! We are not gonna lie, it has been a rollercoaster of emotions but we’ve loved every single minute of it!! Starting a business amidst a pandemic is not that easy, but we couldn’t have made it without our customers love and support, and for that, we are grateful!

How did Catalog get started?

Catalog started because of our love for the printed world. We are a tiny bookshop on a bike, with huge aspirations to grow and share the love of indie publications. From the very beginning, our aim was to work closely with local educational institutions, providing a channel to all students of the arts and humanities faculties to portrait their projects and promote their work.

Catalog’s mission is to nurture creativity and promote diversity by stocking a contemporary selection of zines, very much tailored towards the demands of our customers, run events, and become a venue for community activities as well as a cultural hub for the local area.

Where did the idea for the bookshop-on-a-bike come from?

A trip to Copenhagen back in 2020 along with our love for the Scandinavian indie scene and the way of living seeded the idea for our business. The plan to offer a more sustainable way of doing business was given focus by the Greater Manchester Bee Network, an idea to connect every neighbourhood and community in GM, making it easier to get around by foot or bike.

Catalog kit (Manchester edit) – bespoke cargo bike, gazebo, camping chair, cool books, speciality zines.

Who’s Frederik?

The bike is also known as Frederik, we chose the Christian’s No Box +30 model specifically because we wanted a highly customisable cargo bike that stands out from the rest. Working with Studio Critical together we developed a mobile bookstore that would allow for indie periodicals to be brought to the streets of Manchester.

Our objective was simple: to design something friendly and appealing that would attract people, allow customers to browse and explore content, to facilitate the purchase part of the retail cycle.

Frederik’s wheels and a selection of high quality zines.

Tell us about the best bits of your first 12 months?

The first highlight was getting the bike fully kitted out and seeing my plan become reality. It’s also been amazing to grow my followers from nothing, and to make connections with the school of art.

And what have you found most challenging?

Obviously, starting a new business in the middle of a pandemic was about the biggest challenge I could face. I’m also finding the Manchester weather not an ideal for a business on a bike but I’m learning to dress for all possibilities!

What’s next for Catalog?

I’m really excited to move on to the next phase of what catalog hopes to be. I’m currently crowdfunding for a small container to become extra shop space. This will give me the potential to stock a more varied selection of great magazines, books, and indie publications. Don’t worry the bike is still going to be parked up outside, as well as visiting various markets and events.

In order to achieve everything we want to, Catalog needs a) the space to exhibit more titles and, b) solid days of operation, which won’t be disrupted by adverse weather conditions. So, moving forward, we are looking to grow from being solely on the bike, to also running out of a transformed shipping container!

Coming soon from Catalog: shipping container on the outside, bookshop on the inside.

How are the plans for the container going so far?

We were hoping for this transition to take place at the beginning of the year, unfortunately due to some (we hope) false information from the city council (responsible for our license) we had to postpone that move. Time was ticking and our current license was coming to an end, hence we didn’t want to risk not having a license, whilst trying to sort out all the paperwork needed for our container unit.

We now hope that we have everything in place and we are planning to move forward with our container plans before June!

It’s brilliant to see your business grow over the last twelve months, wishing you every success!

Thank you! We will keep you posted about our progress. Thank you all for your love and support and please, don’t forget to shop small and support creatives and small businesses where you can!

Catalog is a mobile independent bookshop where quality is valued over quantity. A speciality magazine space with a focus on high-quality publications of both local and international magazines and books.

Covering titles on architecture, art and design, music, film, photography, and food. Catalog bring things to Manchester that can’t be found elsewhere in the city.

All Saints Park, Oxford Road: 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Friday and order online.


Manchester – A City of Shops

Founded during the national lockdown in 2020, at Brothers & Sisters we believe that independent shops, boutiques and unique retailers are integral to defining our city. Here we look back at the rich history of shops in Manchester. Words by Eddy Rhead.

Cliches are cliches for a reason and the idea that Manchester has a productive and creative attitude may be a cliche but it’s born out of a history of dynamic entrepreneurialism and unorthodox thinking.

As Manchester grew at a bewildering rate during the Industrial Revolution, so did its retail sector. The growing wealth of Manchester’s new middle class and a Victorian society that became more consumer focussed ensured that Manchester’s streets were soon lined with a huge variety of shops.

Marks & Spencer opened their first Penny Bazaar store in Manchester and their first HQ was here too. Manchester became home to not only grand department stores like Kendals, Milne & Faulkner, Lewis’s, Affleck & Brown and Pauldens but a dizzying array of small independent retailers.

Into the 20th Century, whilst Manchester’s fortunes ebbed and flowed so did its shopping experience. The coming of the Arndale Centre gave home to large ‘high street’ retailers whilst small independents thrived in places like the Corn Exchange, the Royal Exchange and, of course, Afflecks Palace.

Fast forward to the 21st Century and the city, and retail, has changed again. Investment in the Northern Quarter, the growth of buzzing markets and local high streets in the south of the city and, of course, the internet have allowed Mancunians to show their creative talent once again and ply their trade to a world wide audience.

Brothers & Sisters celebrates not only the products and wares the people of Manchester have to offer but also the spirit of the city itself.

Discover the best independent shops in Greater Manchester and explore their online stores with Brothers & Sisters.

Marks & Spencer Staff, Manchester 1888 (Source: my
Eight Day began in 1970 above a boutique on the now demolished New Brown Street in Manchester City Centre.
Corn Exchange, December 1980
Many of the shops were temporary structures on the trading floor of the exchange. After being heavily damaged by the 1996 bomb many of these businesses moved to new premises (Source: Wikipedia. Photo: Manchester Evening News)
Affleck’s Palace first opened in 1982 by James and Elaine Walsh with an ethos of offering a safe environment for entrepreneurs to start out with affordable rent and no long-term contracts. (Source: Wikipedia. Photo credit: Afflecks Palace.
Pop Boutique, Oldham Street, Northern Quarter, the first permanent shop was opened in Affleck’s Palace in 1985.
Vinyl Exchange opened in Manchester in 1988 and is now the largest seller and buyer of rare and second-hand CDs, records and DVDs in the north-west of England, with an increasing global presence through their website.

We Are One – Old Town General Store

To celebrate Brothers & Sisters reaching the grand old age of one, our series ‘We Are One’ will tell the story of some of the independents we’ve watched grow over the last 12 months. Class of 2020, we salute you!

Tony outside Old Town General Store, 24 Lower Hillgate, Stockport Old Town.

Old Town General Store in Stockport is one of the most clicked shops on Brothers & Sisters. A lifestyle store, selling a perfectly curated selection of mens and ladies fashion, homewares, gifts and beauty products, the shop opened at the end of October 2020, and was trading for six days before the second national lockdown.

In this week’s blog, the store owner Tony tells us about Old Town General Store’s first year…

Sophia Rosemary wearing Meadow’s Violenne Dress from Old Town General Store.

Opening a shop when we were knee-deep in the pandemic, remind us how the shop came about please Tony!?

I’ve always worked for large retailers including Flannels, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. Like many others, I became a victim of COVID and was made redundant in July 2020. I was applying for jobs and having good responses but nothing felt right and I started to think about opening my own store. It’s always been a dream to open my own shop.

One year on, what’s been the biggest challenge?

The lockdown in November was a week after I’d opened the shop, and overall we ended up being closed for 21 weeks out of 26 in the first 6 months. As a new store, having to totally pivot to being an online operation was a huge challenge and totally went against my business plan!

Tell us about the best bits of the last year?

The customer support has been brilliant, so many people have been really wonderful in shopping local, spreading the name of the shop amongst friends and buying online during lockdowns! I’m really humbled and thankful for everyone who has supported the shop over the last year.

What’s next for OTGS?

I’m most excited about continuing to build our brand offering, introducing Stockport to labels like Fracap and April Meets October, and working with local folk in bringing great stuff to Stockport. I’m also very excited about all the progress Stockport has made – long may it continue!

And of course there’s 20% off everything in the shop and online until midnight on Monday November 29th!

Find Tony and the latest fashion brands, lifestyle inspo and gifts at Old Town General Store, 24 Lower Hillgate, Stockport Old Town, SK11JE or shop online anytime on the website, delivery is free on all orders over £75.