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…
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.
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.
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!
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.