John's Emporium was built in 1929-1931, on a site owned by the Leigh Trust. The land had been purchased by William Leigh of Little Aston, Staffordshire, in 1837. Mr Leigh was a member of the Committee of the South Australian Church Society in London, which was working in cooperation with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG). In 1840, he donated two acres, including this site, to the Society. In 1929, the SPG-owned properties were handed over to the Leigh Trust, when it was incorporated by an Act of Parliament. The purpose of the land donation was principally for the maintenance and support of clergymen, the building and maintenance of churches, schools, halls and rectories for the Anglican Church of Australia in South Australia.
In 1866, William Hooper opened a furniture and ironmonger shop on the site. It was sold to RJ Lavis in 1907. In 1928 the business was formed into a private limited company and named Hooper's Furnishing Arcade Ltd. A new building was constructed between 1929 and 1931, designed by the architects Garlick and Jackman. This building was later known as John's Emporium.
The site belonged to the Leigh Trust until the late 1990s. John's Emporium continues to be used as a retail business.