A BRIEF HISTORY OF COLCHESTER’S OLDEST MUSIC SHOP – Grace Capel, Colchester Sixth Form

In this exclusive interview with Tim Mann, owner of Mann’s Music, Grace Capel uncovers the incredible story of the family business and how it has been impacted by COVID.

During the pandemic, the nation has sought a sense of escape and relaxation: whether it’s getting lost in a book or watching a favorite TV show. Remarkably, many Britons have turned to the comfort of music, which has brought many people together during such an isolated time. For this reason, I interviewed Tim Mann, the owner of Mann’s Music, who has an impressive, long and interesting legacy.

Tim is the great-great-grandson of Frederick Mann, who started the business 167 years ago, in 1854. This makes Mann’s Music one of the oldest music stores under the same owner in Britain, and possibly even the world!

Even though Mann’s music started a long time ago, it only moved once. In 1891 the company moved to its current location and has remained there ever since! Before that, Tim told me they were posted “Across Main Street”. and that “If you walk into Metro Bank and look at the old picture on their wall, you’ll see our store. It said ‘Mann’s Pianos’ on the front. It was around where the German Doner Kebab is. I guess we moved to bigger premises and eventually to buy rather than rent the property”

Due to the pandemic, many businesses have fallen on hard times. However, Tim states that “Thanks to our internet presence, we have been able to maintain business during COVID.” and “A lot of people got back into music or decided to learn, so guitar and piano sales were good.”

Another effect of the pandemic has been the introduction of walk-in Mann’s Music physical store. “Since COVID we have learned that we can run more efficiently with the door locked. Anyone who knocks on the door and wants to make a purchase is always welcome to come in! »

“Being a fairly large store spread over three floors makes security an issue when the door is left open with our current level of staff.”

“This means that serious customers who often travel a good distance receive the best possible service without interruption”

I was also interested in how important it was for Tim to have a physical store, to which he replied “It’s not really. Managing a music store with heavy and bulky products is difficult from our location and a large warehouse on the outskirts of town would suit our needs much better. »

Colchester has had its fair share of well-known bands and musicians, so I was eager to see if any celebrities had already purchased from the store. Tim told me that the 2010 BGT winner “Matt Cardel bought us a classical guitar” and even “David Rowntree from Blur bought us his first snare drum”!

Times have changed in its 167 years of existence, but it remains strong and loved, especially by family. Tim says “Manns Music is a treasure in our family. In recent years it has not been as profitable, but we continue to run it with pride and pleasure.

In an age of technology and online business, it’s great to see a truly loved family business on our high street that encourages all aspects of music and brings people together.

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