*AD – gifted: all experiences in this event were gifted
I’ve been such a huge Primark fan for so many years; when it was announced last year that they would be building the world’s biggest Primark (totalling 140 square feet) in Birmingham, I was absolutely over the moon and had been patiently awaiting its grand opening ever since. A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a preview event of the new store before its opening and my jaw just about hit the floor. Having loved Primark as a brand for so many years, this felt like a really big step as a blogger for me. I was asked to come along and review the new in-store beauty bar, Duck & Dry Xpress as well as receive a tour of the huge new store. I could honestly write essays about how incredible it was so I’ve picked out some key highlights to give you an idea of what the world’s biggest Primark has to offer.
There are two main entrances to the new Primark store, one of them being right outside Moor Street train station and the other being on the main High Street. The idea is to create a pathway leading through the store to invite commuters in on a daily basis as they make their way to and from work. It also offers another great link through to some of Birmingham’s main attractions such as The Bullring, Selfridges and Grand Central Station. When you enter through the High Street entrance, you’re straight into the ‘currently trending’ part of the store where you can see some of the best selling items on offer and get an idea of what the current fashion trends are. From the Moor Street entrance, there’s a huge light-up sign that reads ‘HELLO BRUM‘ with Birmingham themed phrases, quotes and landmarks featured all over the walls. They also had Birmingham themed clothing such as Peaky Blinders style hats and blazers as well as t-shirts with quotes such as “Bostin’” printed on them. I think this is a really nice touch as it gives us another reason to be proud of our city and brings a homely, community -driven vibe to the store.
Before I home in on some of the exciting features throughout the store, there’s a few of things worth mentioning that I think are really great additions to have in a clothing shop. There are eight clothing banks scattered around to encourage people to donate their old and unwanted clothes. These all get sent off to Unicef so hopefully these banks will help to provide the charity with even more resources. There are also plenty of hydration stations throughout the store where you can fill up your water bottle, another great way to influence people to be sustainable as well as stay hydrated. Seating areas are also scattered all around the store with charging stations available so you can come away from the hustle and bustle of the store to chill out. The reason I love this idea so much on a personal level is that I can often find shops quite overwhelming, particularly busy places such as Primark. It’s good to know that there’s places where I can take myself away and have a little breather if I need to.
The first place I was shown on the grand tour was a barbers salon located in the menswear section. Here is where I met Joe Mills, the owner of the Mills brand who opened his first salon in 1998 in London. He’s a really down-to-earth guy and explained his vision for the salon, opening up new ways to entice audiences into the new Primark store. Joe takes a clean and classic approach to his haircuts, making everything simple and stress-free so that you can come in from the busy store to unwind. Even the decoration within the salon was very much a stripped back, rustic vibe.
A big thing that Joe made clear was that everyone is welcome, just because it’s a barbers it doesn’t mean only men will be served. Women and children are just as encouraged to come along and experience their services. Primark has always been well-known for its affordable prices and this definitely carries on through to Mills as the service costs are very competitive. An addition I really loved was that there’s a little coffee bar just before you walk into the salon so you can grab a drink if there’s a wait for haircuts.
The Mezz Restaurant
When I heard that there was going to be a restaurant within the Primark store, I was really curious as to how they would pull this off. I’d seen coffee shops within clothing stores before but never a proper sit-down eatery. I was really looking forward to seeing what it was like and most importantly, what type of food would be on offer. There was such a huge range of choices in Mezz Restaurant, from Artisan sandwiches and colourful salads to fresh pastries and oven baked pizzas. There were plenty of gluten free and vegan options available in order to cater for everyone and everything is made completely fresh every day.
I got to sample a couple of dishes, my favourite being the Chicken Tikka Nachodoms. These are a spin on regular nachos with a really delicious twist; instead of tortilla chips there are mini poppadoms filled with chicken tikka, mint yoghurt, coriander and mango chutney. They tasted so delicious, I definitely need to go back and order a full-sized plate of these as they’re my new favourite thing. I was also really enticed by the pizzas, they have a proper pizza oven and you can choose whatever toppings you like or pick from their menu. I really liked the sound of the Buffalo Chicken and Blue Cheese Pizza, I’ve got such a weakness for blue cheese so it seems like something I just have to try.
There’s also a small bar called Zing within the restaurant which is perfect if you want to treat yourself to a cocktail during your shopping trip or share a bottle of champagne with your friends. I love the idea that shopping is seen as a full experience and can be made into a proper day out with everything you need all in one place. It’s really great to have something new like this within Birmingham City Centre, providing more entertainment options and chances to make great memories.
The Disney Café
This has definitely been the most hyped up thing on social media that so many Disney fans have been looking forward to. I’m a huge Disney fan myself so when we got up to the second floor and I turned around to see the big sign for the Disney café, the excitement was very real. I had noticed a couple of spoilers on Facebook but I tried to stay away from them so that it would be a huge surprise when I went to visit. It’s exactly as amazing as it sounds; there’s a huge Mickey Mouse shaped entrance, Disney themed food and Mickey decorations throughout the café.
The café features lots of bright, funky colours and there was Disney music playing throughout the area which immediately gives off those cheerful Disney vibes. There were screens on each table where children can play games to keep them occupied as well as an interactive play area with different learning games. It can be quite stressful to take small children along shopping with you so it’s nice that they have somewhere where they can enjoy the experience too.
I was so happy to see that there were Disney themed foods on the menu, this is something that is very popular within the Disney parks so it’s great that they’ve taken that element and put it into the café for us to experience over in Birmingham. Of course, there are the famous Mickey shaped waffles which taste just as good as they look. There’s also plenty of healthy, well-balanced food options available to choose from for both adults and children. I also got to meet Mickey and Minnie which honestly made my evening.
Just outside of the Disney café is where you can find the Primark Disney clothing range. There was a particularly adorable baby clothing area that suddenly made me very broody. There was also a really cool feature nearby called Custom Lab where you can create your own designs to print onto a t-shirt by adding your own text and images of your favourite Disney characters. The prints only take a few minutes and even if there’s a particularly long queue, you can place your order and give them your phone number so that you can receive a text when it’s ready to be collected.
Just a couple of minutes away from the Disney section, I was really excited to see that there’s also an entire section of the store dedicated to Harry Potter. I’ve been a massive Potter fan since I was younger and there’s so much merchandise in the form of clothing, accessories, homeware and plenty of other items available. I’m definitely going to end up finding my way back here very soon to pick up some Hufflepuff items as I had my eye on a few things (apologies in advance to my bank balance).
If Disney isn’t really your thing, there’s also a regular café where you can relax with a cake and a latte after a long day of picking up bargains. They do lots of varieties of sandwiches, snacks and salads as well as hot and cold drinks. There’s plenty of baked goods on offer, their current specialty being the amazing rainbow cake pictured above. I got to try a sample of this and it tasted incredible, I don’t know if I could’ve eaten the whole cake but I definitely could’ve made a big dent.
There was also a ‘decorate your own donut‘ feature where you can choose any flavour donut and pick your own colours for them to spray paint it with. I thought this was a really nice added feature as I’ve not seen anything like this before. It’s another one-of-a-kind experience that makes shopping even more exciting and gives you another reason to keep on returning.
Duck & Dry Xpress
After walking around the whole store and taking everything in, I was so happy that I had a salon treatment to enjoy at the end of it. Having a salon in-store is a genius idea, it’s the perfect way to unwind if you’ve been on your feet all day. Duck & Dry Xpress is the sister brand of Duck & Dry, London’s most popular blow dry bar. They already feature an Xpress bar in the Oxford Street Primark store in London and Birmingham has now become home to their second salon.
There are plenty of different treatments available to choose from, most famously their blow dries and braiding services. You can also get manicures, pedicures, facial threading, lash applications and various hair treatments. Prices start from just £4 and I was so pleasantly surprised by how affordable everything was. I do love a good bargain, hence why I’m such a Primark girl so I’ll definitely be returning here for all of my beauty needs. There’s also a make-up counter where you can play around with products from Primark’s own beauty range. I really like this feature as there’s not always testers available so it’s good to have somewhere to be able to sit down and find out what works for you before you purchase anything.
The treatment I chose was a file and polish which was kindly gifted to me, on their menu this is priced as £10 which is super affordable in comparison to other salons. I’m really gutted that I completely forgot to ask for the nail technician’s name but she was absolutely lovely, making conversation and I felt really relaxed. I often get anxious about going to get my nails done because I suffer from dermatophagia (biting the skin around my fingers) so I get really paranoid about people focusing on my hands. The nail technician actually gave me a little tip to use cuticle oil before bed as she said it could really help with the problem areas on my fingers. This was the highlight of the experience for me as it made me feel so much more comfortable and I’ll definitely be trying out her suggestion.
As I was sat having my nails done, I saw some other girls coming out of the blow drying and hair styling area. There were so many different hairstyles that all looked incredible, I’ll definitely be keeping the salon if any special events come up in the future. I chose the shade Berry to have on my nails as I was immediately drawn to it but there were so many other lovely colours too. They were all Primark own brand polishes, some of them priced at just £1 so I’ll definitely be heading back to Primark to get some more shades. I was really happy with both my nails and the overall friendly and comfortable experience in the salon, it’s a definite 5* rating from me.
Will you be visiting the world’s biggest Primark?