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Manchester’s NOMA neighbourhood hosts artisan pop-up department store and ‘edible’ Christmas tree


NOMA, the 20-acre mixed-use neighbourhood in Manchester city centre, is drawing in crowds with its ‘edible’ Christmas tree and pop-up department store focused exclusively on UK brands offering artisan and handcrafted goods.

The ‘edible’ Christmas tree, which grows seasonal herbs such rosemary, thyme and sage, was designed by creative consultancy Standard Practice and design studio Tim Denton and sits in Sadler’s Yard, Manchester’s newest public square and home to the Pilcrow, a hand-built community craft pub.

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Members of the public can collect the herbs grown and also attend free workshops.  After Christmas, the tree will be dismantled and relocated to Patch, NOMA’s neighbourhood kitchen garden currently based in nearby Angel Square.

The With Love store is temporarily occupying the ground floor of the recently refurbished Dantzic, a Grade II listed building that has been transformed into a contemporary workspace. The With Love team host special late-night events featuring interactive workshops and activities, such as beer and cocktail tasting, live drawing and talks.

The retail concept is the brainchild of creative agency With Love, founded by Chris Roberts and Rob Evans  The duo has brought in artisans, craftsmen and traders they have met since launching With Love. Products available in-store includes:

  • Wasabi vodka made by The Wasabi Company on the only British farm commercially growing wasabi, which is one of the most expensive vegetables in the world
  • Walsh Trainers from Britains’ only remaining sports footwear manufacture, made in Bolton since 1961
  • Hampers and tea plants from Tregothnan tea estate in Cornwall, the UK’s first commercial tea plantation
  • Welsh gin made at the Snowdonia distillery using fresh botanicals grown in the mountains
  • Low alcohol beer (0.5 – 2.8% ABV) sustainably brewed by the Small Beer Company in Bermondsey, London
  • High quality, organic, gluten free, vegetable stock by Nine Meals from Anarchy

The pop-up is the latest in a series of place-making and community engagement initiatives by NOMA, building on the success of Stock Exchange, a weekend-long barter market held at Sadler’s Yard in August this year.

Sadler’s Yard itself was named itself after a digital crowd-sourcing competition and is home to the Pilcrow, which was hand-built by local volunteers. Before the edible tree, NOMA commissioned a wooden Christmas tree that was reused as materials to build the Pilcrow.

Other initiatives have included PLANT NOMA, a meanwhile-use open design community workshop and village hall, and the Old Bank Residency, a twelve-month programme of events, which is still ongoing.

In total, NOMA will provide 2.5 million sq. ft. of both new-build and renovated office space such as Dantzic, situated alongside housing, public realm as well as new retail and leisure opportunities.

Nicky Moore, brand and marketing lead at NOMA, says: “NOMA has always looked beyond the norm for events and activations, starting with The Pilcrow in 2015 and projects like the Old Bank Residency, neighbourhood kitchen garden Patch, and the cashless Stock Exchange market which took place this year. We’re excited to bring such an array of ambitious, passionate businesses together for this pop-up and to invite Manchester to experience their stories in the surroundings of Dantzic, a beautifully refurbished 1930s warehouse which is the perfect location to showcase these high quality brands and products.”

Chris Roberts, co-founder of the With Love Project, says: “What’s been great about the last few years is meeting inspiring, brave, visionary people and telling their stories in our books and films. The department store seemed like the next obvious move and thanks to the help of Standard Practice and NOMA it’s becoming a reality. The chance for the space came about working alongside Standard Practice in the Old Bank Residency. It started as a conversation over coffee and has turned into a fully fledged realisation of an idea. It’s something I don’t think could have happened anywhere else and NOMA have been really supportive of the idea from the start.”

Rob Evens, co-founder of the With Love Project, says: “The world is full of mediocre, faceless, parity products and services created with no joy, just for a bit of profit. With the store we will be bringing together brands who inspire us, companies we respect and people who are daring to do things differently.”

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