Johns Wines of St Ives is set to open a second shop in Fowey, Cornwall.
Brothers Sam and Tom Hanson took ownership in St Ives almost a decade ago, but in fact the business was established in 1894 by their great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Johns. “We are the oldest family business in St Ives!” says Sam.
After her fisherman husband died at sea, Johns started a shop in her house. “She had six kids to support, so she opened up her front room as a greengrocer,” Sam explains.
Over the years the shop has had various guises but always remained trading and in the family. The brothers took over in 2013 and decided to focus on alcohol.
“We completely gutted it, but it’s quite cool as we’ve still got the mast from our great-great granddad’s fishing boat in the cellar, holding up the shop floor,” Sam says.
“We specialise in spirits and craft beers.We’re really into our whiskies.
“I am in the process of having a big overhaul of our wine list. There’s been a change, in that people around us are getting more excited about wine and they are prepared to spend a bit more and treat themselves. The under-£10 section of wine dropped off a lot with us, and the £10 to £30 range has jumped massively, which is fantastic as there is much more scope for me to buy interesting stuff in that bracket.”
The two stores are about 50 miles apart. So how will that work in practice? “Tom and I run everything from our office/warehouse in St Erth,” says Sam, “and have a manager who runs the daily operations of the store – and will do the same with Fowey.”
In addition to working with suppliers including Alliance, North South and Fells, Sam is just about to start working with Sip Champagnes. “They did a great tasting with us in the shop; they have some lovely artisanal grower Champagnes and so I’m going to get some of those in this year,” he says.
With the new premises about “six times” the size of the St Ives store, the brothers are full of plans. “It will be fun to have some space to play with for a change,” says Sam. “We could have wine tastings and all sorts going on.”
The first floor, initially earmarked for a wine bar/café, will most likely house a second branch of their restaurant, Beer & Bird, while the ground floor will be dedicated to wine and spirits.