Looking back on the lost shops and attractions of the Trafford Center

Visiting the Trafford Center has always been and will continue to be a shopping experience like no other with its large selection of shops and choices for customers.

Shoppers have been gripped by its architecture and finesse and it has been a go-to outlet for getting everything you need from clothes to footwear and even food!

Since 1998, we have seen large companies come in – and unfortunately we have also seen some of them go.

More Stoke-on-Trent news.

Here we look back at some stores that have left their mark …

Disney store

Until earlier this year, the Disney Store was a regular part of the Trafford Center shopping experience and was a must-visit in the run-up to Christmas.

Who could forget to walk into the store to the sound of the Lion King or Moana’s soundtrack while getting confused by a host of Mickey Mouse memorabilia as you wonder if you can really get away with owning at an age of 32.

The store left the mall quickly in September, and while the store still exists online, fans were desperate.

Speaking of the end of the store, a shopper said the news had ‘ruined their day’ and that ‘the magic is dead’, reports the Manchester Evening News. Really sad times.

BHS

Do you remember BHS? Do you remember that there used to be a BHS at the Trafford Center?

The retail store left the center in early 2016, just a few months before the brand completely shut down. We’re not saying it was a coincidence …

At the peak of its popularity, there were 94 BHS stores nationwide, where customers could shop for everything from clothing and household items to electronics and fragrances.

What may come as a surprise to some is that BHS still exists – albeit in the form of an online shop.



BHS closed in 2016

Debenhams

Debenhams was a firm favorite among shoppers at Trafford Center and was so iconic that it practically had its own corner.

Located over four floors and with its own escalators to boot, it was like visiting a mall in a mall.

Filled to the brim with clothes, gifts, food, electronics and even a café, it was a place where you could accidentally spend hours – and lots of money.

The store closed in May last year along with all other remaining Debenhams branches.



An unforgettable store

The rainforest cafe

There are two types of people: those who remember Rainforest Cafe at Trafford Center, and those who do not.

One of the early fixtures in the center, the rainforest cafe now feels so remotely a memory that many of us often wonder if it actually existed, or if it was just a fever dream.

No one can remember what food was served at the Rainforest Cafe, or whether it was good, but who cared? No one was there for Michelin-starred delights.

We were there to eat chips and drink pop while an animatronic tiger appeared from inside the “jungle” of fake plants next to our table, and we did so with great confusion and confusion from our parents.

The rainforest cafe was cruelly taken from us in 2000 after only a few years of glory and happiness.

It used to be where Nando’s now sits, and sometimes we wonder how different the world would be if it had just been with us so little longer.



When you think about it, Rainforest Cafe is a bit of a wild concept …

Coat

Many of us would have liked to have heard of Manto, one of the first bars on Canal Street, but did you know that there was also a Manto in the Trafford Center?

Manto was part of a thriving nightclub scene in the early days of the center, along with the bars Kro, Tiggi’s and The Orangery.

Made in red leather, Mantos spread out over three levels with a restaurant and bar playing R&B and house music.

It was there from the Trafford Center’s opening in 1998, but closed a little white later.

HMV

Located on the top floor, Trafford Center’s HMV was a pretty big treasure trove of DVDs, CDs and music memorabilia until it closed in 2019.

You can easily get lost while on the hunt for the latest hit list release or Wes Anderson movie, especially after Christmas, when sales on Boxing Day took over.

HMV also hosted a number of signings with the likes of Shayne Ward, Katherine Jenkins, JLS, The Saturdays and even Michael Ball, who has performed as a fan over the years.

One Direction also signed a book there at some point!



Shayne Ward at an album signing at HMV Trafford Center

Dreamland

Dreamieland, considered ‘the UK’s first mall-based theme’ when it was launched in 2002, was a really real thing that happened at the Trafford Center.

The interactive saw visitors board four-seater cars as they ventured through Dreamieland to stop the prolific Dream Guzzlers (yes, really) from ruining happy dreams.

In simpler terms, it was a glorified laser quest, but with “guzzler torches” instead of weapons, because it was a better time back then and no one asked too many questions.

Unfortunately, the ambitious £ 10 million project, which was located next to the cinema where Paradise Island Golf Adventure is now located, was not as successful as everyone had hoped and closed after a short time.

Festival Village

Festival Village was the perfect place if you ever needed a break from the ‘bustle’ of the main center while still shopping a bit.

Forget the designer name tags, Festival Village was about the unusual, the quirky and the curiosities beyond the big street names.

Small stands and window shops sold everything from postcards, candles and model railroads to the newer delights, such as jelly beans and even Beanie Babies (worth a fortune now, we hear).

It is a badly missed attraction and many hope it will return to the Trafford Center at some point in the future.

Nauticalia

Where else could you go for a crew member, a weather forecast and a bottled ship? Now, the marine antiques and gift shop Nauticalia, of course.

Located at the end of Debenhams, Nauticalia was your grandfather’s dream store – with lots of captain’s socks and nautical-themed cufflinks.

It was literally one of the only places one could roll with ten minutes left over and end up going out with a bosun whistle in hand for a relative’s Christmas present.

What are your favorite memories of Trafford Center days gone by? Share them in the comments below.

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