Yes, you did just read that title correctly. I am very, very, (very) excited to announce that we are moving our Manchester HQ. On the 14th of March, we’re shutting up for the last time at St Ann’s Arcade. A few days later, on the 18th March, we are opening up a much bigger, brighter store just around the corner on Police Street.
So, why the move? I guess the reality of the situation is that we've long outgrown the space we're in. We are literally bursting at the seams here. We've just about found every nook and cranny we can without making the store look a mess. St Anns Arcade is no longer the quirky little arcade it used to be. We've always loved our neighbours being in there but now feels the right time to move and make our own space.
"I’ve never wanted Seen to be the kind of luxury eyewear store where you sit hidden away in a corner somewhere and pick out your frames on your own. That’s just not us." - TM
Over the last few years, it's been a case of watching, waiting and trying to find the perfect location, one that’s worth the stress of moving. The old Fred Perry place on Police Street is somewhere I’ve looked longingly at as the dream location for Seen. When I heard those guys were moving up over to the Northern quarter and their unit was going to be up for grabs, I knew it was time to take the leap.
The new store is a beautiful building in a great location. It's double-fronted with a big, square footprint, opposed to a stuffy thin and long room. It's got a first floor which has lots of windows and natural lighting. It's still tucked away on a little pedestrian street, not just right out there on a busy high street, which is something that has always appealed to me about Seen — the best places are often hard to find.
We’ve been able to design the store to be a much more social space. I’ve never wanted Seen to be the kind of luxury eyewear store where you sit hidden away in a corner somewhere and pick out your frames on your own. That’s just not us. I think one of the joys of Seen is how much enthusiasm we all share for eyewear and how much we all have in common, so I really wanted to create a space that encouraged conversations, not just between us and our clients, but between you guys too.
As well as being open and airy, the new store is based around a big central table which people will be able to congregate around and chat. We’re going to have plenty more space to deliver the kind of service we want to and you’re going to feel more relaxed being styled.
The new store’s also much brighter. There’s lots of extra natural light, something the current Seen store didn’t have loads of, but we’re also introducing lots more colours to the interior too. Over the last eight or so years, our current store has been very monochromatic, and that was a conscious decision. For the design of the new store, we’ve gone back to our roots; I don’t know if many of you remember the early store designs, but let’s just say bold primary colours will be making much more of an appearance.
We will now have a dedicated space for our online orders to be managed. The team have always felt throttled in giving our best service to online clients and there's often an amusing scene as we all dance around each other as we try and perfect in-store and online orders. Now each part of the business will have its own space to breathe but I sure hope the dancing doesn't stop!!
With lots of space available on the first floor, we’ve got the room to do something we’ve never really had a chance to do before — events. Picture this: a few cocktails, some music, and your favourite brands bringing in a hefty trunk packed with their latest collection for you to try on before almost anyone else. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Watch this space.
"With a bigger, brighter space, they’re going to have the room they need to work their eyewear styling magic and take our service to the next level." - TM
As you might imagine, me and the rest of the team are well and truly over the moon about the move, but that isn’t to say we’re not a little sad. St Ann’s Arcade is Seen’s first home, it’s where we got started in 2005 and it’s where we developed and delivered the unique brand of personalised customer service that's been described as World Famous. I loved the chaos of the little shop most of the time, I think it added to the excitement of finding the perfect frames.
One of my biggest worries about moving in the past has been maintaining that open and personal vibe that Seen’s known and loved for. If I thought that was anywhere near at risk, I wouldn’t be going through with the move. I have such an amazing team and it’s their passion that really makes all the difference. With a bigger, brighter space, they’re going to have the room they need to work their eyewear styling magic and take our service to the next level. You guys are going to feel just as at home as you always have, surrounded by the finest eyewear in the world... and maybe your old favourite sweetie jar!
This is kind of like the next chapter in Seen’s story and I want to thank you all for joining along for the ride so far. We’re moving into one of the best retail units in the city, reuniting with some of our old neighbours like the Leica Store and we’ll be just opposite the rear entrance from iconic brands like Waterstones. It’s a massive deal for us and we couldn’t have done it without your continued support over the years. So thanks, from the bottom of my heart. I’m looking forward to sharing a cuppa with you in the new place and showing you around.