EAUX talks to John Manning, owner of homeware emporium The House in Town in St Peter’s Street, as part of our series on The Saints in Ipswich
How long have you been situated on The Saints, and what tempted you to open your store here, as opposed to other areas of town?
I’ve been here just over four years now, and the main reason for opening here is because my mother owns Maud’s Attic next door, and my brother owns Merchant House Interiors next door to that.
Can you sum up what kind of items you sell?
I sell over 40,000 products, with everything from sofas, beds, wardrobes and all large items, to giftware, decorative accessories, lighting and mirrors – and more!
So what is your favourite item in your shop right now?
My favourite things right now are Marilyn and Audrey canvases, which are pretty stunning. My other personal favourites are the various animal heads that I sell, such as stags, dinosaurs, and all sorts of different animals. I also have a passion for mirrors and I stock over 1,000 different styles!
Can you tell us an unusual fact about your business?
I have a vast array of products which extend way beyond what you see in the shop. Another slightly different aspect is that I offer a full service. For example, there has been many occasion where someone will buy a mirror from me and I will deliver it as well as hang it for them.
What do you think The Saints has that the main Ipswich high street doesn’t?
In a nutshell, a vast array of independent shops. We are all independent and we all offer something slightly different to each other, which means that you can come to The Saints and spend a whole day here shopping without even making it in town. For example there has been many times when we get customers spending upwards of three hours just in our three shops!
What’s the relationship like between the shop keepers in this area?
We all get on incredibly well; we’re always having a chat over a coffee. It’s a very social, positive relationship between all of us. We definitely have a strong sense of community, without a doubt.
Do you know anything about the history of this building in particular?
I am lead to believe that this particular building was once a butcher, so that’s slightly different!
If a person had never visited The Saints before how would you describe it to them?
An eclectic mix of individual and quirky shops offering everything from homeware to fashion and food and drink!
The area was ranked in the top 5 in the Local Centre Category of the Great British High street awards this year, how does it feel to get this kind of recognition?
It’s incredibly positive. I know a couple of people that put a lot of work in behind the scenes to promote the area, and it’s just a credit to them, and all of us really, because we all do put in an awful lot of hard work to keep The Saints as it is.