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


During the pandemic, the nation has been looking for a sense of escapism and relaxation: whether this is getting lost in a book or watching a favourite tv show. Noticeabley, a lot of Brits have been turning to the comfort of music, which has brought a lot of people together during such an isolating time. Because of this, I have interviewed Tim Mann, the owner of Mann’s Music, which holds an impressively long and interesting legacy.


Tim is the great-great grandson of Frederick Mann, who first established the business 167 years ago, in 1854. This makes Mann’s music one of the oldest music shops under the same ownership in Britain, and maybe even the world!


Even though Mann’s Music began a long time ago, it has only moved location once. In 1891, the business moved to their current location and have been there ever since! Before that, Tim told me that they were stationed “On the other side of the High Street.”  and that “If you go into the Metro Bank and have a look at the old picture on their wall you will see our shop. It said 'Mann’s Pianos' on the front. It was around where the German Doner Kebab place is. My guess is we moved for a larger premises and possibly to buy rather than rent the property”


Due to the pandemic, many businesses have had a rough time. However, Tim states that “Because of our internet presence we were able to keep the business running during COVID.” and “Many people went back to music or decided to learn, so guitar and piano sales were good.”


Another effect of the pandemic has been the introduction of appointments to Mann’s Music’s physical store. “Since COVID, we have learnt that we can run more efficiently having the door locked. Anyone knocking who wants to make a purchase is always invited in!”


“Being quite a large shop spread across three floors makes security an issue when the door is left open with our current level of staffing.”


“It does mean that serious customers who often travel a fair distance are given the best possible service without interruption”


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


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


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


In this day and age of technology and online business's, it's great to see a genuinely loved family-run business on our high street which encourages all aspects of music and brings people together.