Name: Walter Manning
Organization/Business: Old Faithful Shop
What do you do and how did you get here?
I am the owner of The Old Faithful Shop and we’ve been here since 2010. General Stores have been part of my family for many generations, and back home in Newfoundland, my grandparents on both sides owned general stores. Growing up, I always worked in retail (even throughout college), and had forever dreamed of opening up my own shop. About 8 years ago, it became a reality, and we took over this incredible space on West Cordova. It had sat empty for about a year before we moved in, as back then, Gastown wasn’t the hotspot it is today. The space used to be occupied by a vintage clothing store, and a furniture store. Historically, I read there was once a gentlemen’s club and a bowling alley operating in this location. I’m not sure how accurate that information is, although it does make for some interesting conversation.
How did the name Old Faithful come about?
Old Faithful stands for a few things. It refers to the products that we carry – well made, somewhat utilitarian, but inherently beautiful in design. These are things that we consider to be old faithfuls – something that you’ll hold onto and use for many years, having an almost heirloom quality. We also wanted the shop to be considered an old faithful shop – a place that people would return to, receiving reliable and consistent service, good product assortment that’s fresh and new.
If you only had 15 minutes in Gastown, how would you spend it?
I don’t have a lot of 15 minutes to spare but if I did, I would go grab a coffee at JJ Beans, go visit my buddy down at Neighbour, get some food at Guu or maybe just take a walk. It’s a great neighbourhood to stroll around in.
What do you like about Gastown?
I like a number of things about Gastown. I find it visually appealing with its old buildings and architecture. I consider it the best location in the city for that. There are a lot of creative industries down here, and other like-minded stores and people. The stuff that I see in many shop windows are the things that I delight in. I find the neighbourhood to be inspiring, and I don’t always get that in other parts of the city.
Can you recall a particularly happy moment or cool experience here in Gastown?
There have been many interesting moments over the years but I guess I’ll mention this one. Kylie Minogue was in the store once, and her dog peed all over the floor. She had to clean it up with paper towels. I offered to do it but she insisted. She was incognito that day but we all knew it was her.
What’s your philosophy for a good life?
I wish I knew that one. I think is about having some sort of balance in your life. I guess I’m one of the fortunate ones because I love what I do. A lot of people don’t have that, so I consider myself lucky.