Saints Style | The House in Town
John Manning is owner of ‘The House In Town’ and opened his destination shop in 2011, as an addition to his mother’s shop Maud’s Attic and his brother’s venue Merchant House Interiors. All three shops can be found in the charming St. Peter’s Street, occupying numbers 23 to 29. John has a background in property development & interior design, which has led to retailing home interiors and accessories.
When Waterfront Life created The Saints sub-brand, the stories behind independent & entrepreneurial business owners such as John Manning, were exactly the ones that needed to be told. Luck plays a small part in running your own business, but the rest is a mixture of many factors.
I started a small property development company in 2003 with my step-father, Graham Childs. Over the following years we bought, renovated and sold approximately 30 properties. When selling the homes, we would dress them for sale to present them in their best possible light, and achieve maximum value. This gave me the opportunity to express myself with interiors to suit the style of home being presented. I now offer a service to local developers where I dress houses for them; renting the furniture to them for the duration of sale. This is proving to be very enjoyable and successful, and allows me to use the latest in design styling to present some amazing properties in truly dramatic style.
During my property development years, I would often be asked by my Mother, Wendy Childs, to help with arranging deliveries of furniture from her Shop, Maud’s Attic, using my van. Mum opened her shop in 1996 and has successfully retailed furniture since then. I was never really involved in her shop, but always had a keen interest in what she did. You might say that interiors retailing is in the blood as my step father also owned Merchant House Interiors, and my brother Robert has worked for them for some years, managing Merchant House.
In 2011 the opportunity arose to rent the premises at 23 St. Peters Street, where The House In Town sits. It was all a bit of a whirlwind, and in fact I came up with the name of the shop whilst walking to the bank to open the business account. My first day of trading came in September 2011. I found enough stock to open the doors, and it soon became apparent that I had found the right formula, to complement - yet completely contrast - the products on offer in Maud’s Attic & Merchant House. I’m very lucky that the shop is big enough to take items such as large sofas, dining tables, and with its high ceilings; statement chandeliers. For me there was only one area that I wanted to open the shop in. The fact that my family has 3 different shops all next to each other provides an interesting story, and most of our customers seem to like it.
I had always been aware of the sense of community that exists in The Saints trading area, but the past 5 or 6 years has been an amazing time. There are so many hard working and friendly business owners, and each day has a real sense of fun about it as we’re quite a close group. We’re all incredibly proud of our little slice of the town, and we take incredible pride from what we add to it.
The Saints attracts a lot of visitors from out of the area, and we are always darting around the country delivering furniture to customers who fall in love with pieces when visiting the shops. What really makes each and every day so satisfying, is the large number of regular customers who continue to come back time and time again; whether it’s for something for the home, or a gift for somebody else. I have met so many wonderful people and am lucky enough to count many of them as friends. Running the shop is a 7 day a week occupation, as when you’re not behind the counter you have to be sourcing the latest products, displaying them, and then delivering them to their new owners. We take great pride in ensuring that we deliver pieces ourselves, to ensure the customer is 100% happy when you drive away. I couldn’t think of anything else I would rather be doing, and consider myself to be incredibly lucky to have my place on The Saints.