Manchester Madness | Our Story
Arriving at the markets each morning, George would slowly but steadily go about unpacking his wares and setting up his commercial linens and clothing stall, ready to do business for the day. With an experienced hand, he would lay out the display, sit down on his stool and watch as the people went by. His customers would return for their orders and passersby would quickly became friends.
That’s how business was run back then, where every customer was a friend, every friend a potential customer and deals were negotiated over the constant humming bustle and hustle of a morning marketplace. Before online shopping was a concept, during a time when deals were negotiated with a handshake and jotted down in a ledger, the beginnings of what is now known as Manchester Madness had begun to evolve.
The marketplace was a rich environment, full of potential and opportunity. George had established himself as a hard-working and fair trader in his industry. Forging and nurturing ongoing relationships and demanding nothing but fair prices for his customers, had set him apart from his competitors and created repeat, booming business.
To all who knew him, George was the hard-working immigrant who would slog through long days at the Paddington Markets, was a regular at the Flemington Markets and made a sales trip to Canberra each weekend.
Credit: Photographer, Michael Mangold
George had quickly established himself as the go-to man for reliable, high-quality linens at affordable prices. It was these values which had become the cornerstone of a successful business; qualities which his step-son Beny would inherit and continue to honour as the gold standard for the way business should and would be done.
Sadly, when George passed on, the business was up in the air. His step-son Beny along with his wife Ziva had recently arrived to Australia and grabbed the reigns of the business with fresh zeal and vigour. With a vision to propel the successful wholesaling business into full-fledged retail operation, they opened their first retail store in the heart of Surry Hills in 1990.
Enjoying a tenancy there for over 30 years, the retail store went from strength to strength, phasing out the clothing side of the business and investing heavily in both the bedding and baby bedding categories.
Manchester Madness, as it was now known, and Sydney Shopping Tours enjoyed a close relationship for a number of years, providing an opportunity for individuals from rural communities to come into the city and enjoy a day of shopping at select stores. These trips were tremendously valuable to those individuals, who were unable to easily access and purchase essentials on any sort of regular basis.
Beny and Ziva’s youngest son Adam remembers, “these women and men would come in by the busload and stock up on their linens and clothing for the entire year. In hindsight, it was extremely valuable to be exposed to people beyond the city and I admire my parents for the care, fairness and warmth that they showed the customers back then.”
He goes on, “I felt proud to feel a part of something which was contributing towards the greater community, something beyond the bubble of my life as a city kid.”
Seeing the difficult and often arduous journey that the rural communities were required to endure was something that frustrated Adam, “I thought to myself, surely there must be a more convenient option”. And there was one evening, 14 years after opening the doors to their retail store, Beny and Ziva were sitting around the dinner table, with their elder two sons Roby and Ron. The conversation that took place that night over roast beef and potatoes, would ultimately change the course of business for Manchester Madness forever. The conversation that night was about a new concept that had shown emergence in the US and it was called ‘online shopping’. The two older sons of Beny and Ziva were pioneers of the internet age and early adopters of new technologies and innovations. They had their finger on the technological pulse which was telling them that online was going to revolutionise the way business what was done.
Credit: Photographer, Michael Mangold
What they had seen was the birth and subsequent snowball effect of online shopping in the USA, correctly predicting that the trend would follow to Australia, they urged their parents to consider ‘going online’. Enjoying the success of over 10 years in a retail space and with little information to go off of, Beny and Ziva were initially hesitant to enter this unexplored, new space. Start-up costs were high and the model hadn’t yet been proven. With these obstacles in place, the idea was shelved for a while, not to be revisited until a number of years later.
Chuckling as she recalls her scepticism, Ziva recounts "we thought it was crazy, this buying online business. We hadn’t heard of people shopping online, couldn't imagine people buying things without seeing it; ultimately it was a space that was totally unfamiliar to us. Hindsight is always 20/20 but I’m proud of how far we’ve come in a short time.”
From the days of George, Manchester Madness has been and always will remain a customer-centric business model. With their decision-making guided only by the needs and happiness of their customers, it was clear that the convenience and affordability of an online store had now become inevitable and absolutely necessary. In 2005, manchestermadness.com.au was born.
The early stages were tough and there were a lot of obstacles along the way. It was a major transition to move into the online space and the technology was laborious to navigate. Fortunately, Adam, their youngest son was fresh out of High School, with a passion for computers. Armed with time and memories of those Shopping Tours, he devoted himself to the development of the online store with help from his brothers. The next generation was now deeply entrenched in the ongoing success that George had set out for his family all those years ago.
As technology developed and eBay launched onto the scene, the possibilities were forthcoming and the boys were ready to adapt. Maintaining their close relationships with their stockists and suppliers, MM was able to assert themselves as THE go-to provider for great quality products at the most competitive prices.
Credit: Photographer, Michael Mangold
MM has traded on the back of a great name with a customer-centric focus for over 20 years. Embracing change and valuing their team have driven the core to their success. Wayne, Judy, Nick, Beny and Ziva are the core to the success of the company and have been so since the very beginnings. They are the ones who are fulfilling your orders, responding to your enquiries, sourcing the best products at the greatest prices in the industry and making sure that at the end of each and every day, you the MM community have nothing but smiles on your faces.
A long way from those long days at the markets, MM’s focus remains - work hard, value the customer at the forefront of every decision you make and offer great products at unbeatable prices.
We hope you will join us for the ongoing future of ManchesterMadness and look forward to your communication online. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t afford your dreams, at manchestermadness.com.au, making your dream a reality is our priority. Shop with us today and see for yourself.
All the images in this post are sourced from the Paddington Markets Website
To see a history of the manchestermadness.com.au website homepage, visit archive.org