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Manchester’s Local Gems: Ziferblat

Manchester’s Local Gems is a brand new feature showcasing those Manchester spots people just can’t live without. We get behind the scenes, find out what makes them tick and discover why they love being in business in Manchester.

For our first instalment we caught up with Ben Davies from Ziferblat Edge St to find out what makes them a Local Gem.

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Ben Davies & Gareth Harold – Ziferblat Edge St

Ben, tell us a little bit about your business & what you do there? Ziferblat is a pay per minute sitting room in the Northern Quarter. Guests pay 6 pence per person per minute to use the space. They are welcome to help themselves to our Ziferkitchen which includes freshly ground locally roasted coffee, 43 tea varieties, hot chocolate, breads, croissants, scones, cakes, biscuits, brownies, cereals, fruits, snacks, yoghurt, juices, soft drinks, fruits and more. Guests can relax and treat it like its their own home. Theres a piano, an xbox, board games, books, crafts and other activities available. We also have four separate themed meeting and event spaces which can be privately hired. We also use the rooms to run classes, activities and events.

How did you get started? Ziferblat was started in Russia back in 2011 by Ivan Meetin with a project called pocket poetry. The group of poetry enthusiasts used bars, cafes and friend’s houses to get together to socialise and progress their work. They found that these surroundings were often not fit for purpose and they started to outgrow them. They decided to rent an attic in Moscow and lovingly named it the “treehouse for adults”. The space was treated like a shared living room, refreshments were laid out for guests and it ran on donations. After it grew in popularity the pay per minute model was introduced and Ziferblat grew from there. The Manchester branch opened in January 2015 and is now the biggest and busiest Ziferblat in the world!

What has been/is your biggest challenge? Often the biggest issue is getting across to people all thats on offer in Ziferblat. Our guests love to use us as an alternative as a cafe but they don’t know about all the events we run each week e.g. yoga classes, martial arts, knitting clubs etc. Guests are also welcome to bring their own food into Ziferblat and use our microwave, oven or crockery and cutlery. For those who want to use Ziferblat as a place to work, we have monthly plans where we can become a hot desk solution for them. We consistently try and highlight these points but hopefully as people become more familiar with us it should set in.

How do you use customer feedback with your team? Feedback is incredibly important to us. Our space is co-created with our guests. We see ourselves as a shared environment and we want visitors to feel they part own it! If we can, we always make the changes people ask for. For example, one person asked for ping pong, we bought a table. Many of our guests asked for gluten free, so we now have lots of treats on offer which are gluten free. Guests asked us to open earlier so we extended our opening hours in the week to open at 8am instead of 10am, which you can imagine our lovely hosts were please to hear. But all these changes need to be made so our guests feel they have a part to play in what we are doing here!

What excites you the most about owning/running a business in Manchester? Manchester is an incredibly exciting place to be a part of at the moment. Theres so much going on here and such a great buzz about the city. The people who live in Manchester are diverse and have such a nice vibe to them. Its a tribute to the city and how far its come in recent years that our most successful branch can be found here. We walk round the sitting room hearing peoples creative plans and ambitions. Its a pleasure to be a part of it all.

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Want more? Bookmark Ziferblat on Yelp and pay them a visit soon!