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Sara Hughes outside her shop, Phoenix Antiques in Petworth.

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Why did you open your premises?

Up until 2008 I had been stalling out at various antique fairs but, being a single parent, I needed a bit more stability and regular hours. Petworth is known as the antiques mecca of the south of England and, after looking around at other shops, I felt I could fill a gap between the wonderful array of high-end goods and the more affordable end of the market.

So your unique selling point is…?

Offering something for everyone. I am a general dealer and have vintage, antique and contemporary items with a price range of £1-500.

How many staff do you have?

There is only me.

How has your passing trade changed?

I have a good location opposite the entrance to Petworth House, so I do well with visitors, although I have noticed fewer coaches in recent years. Browsers are still plentiful but converting them to buyers isn’t as easy as it once was.

Given an unlimited budget, how would you change the shop?

I would have all my windows changed so I could have a better display, get a new carpet and generally update the interior.

Why should customers visit shops?

Nothing can replace the full buying experience: actually picking up an object and seeing it in its full glory and meeting the seller face-to-face. I enjoy talking to customers, finding out what they are looking for so I can keep abreast of changing trends.

Also, supporting small businesses and keeping them going is important in continuing the life of a small town like Petworth.

What is the biggest challenge of running a shop?

Getting the buying and selling balance right. I am addicted to buying and I think most dealers share the ailment. Prolonged poor weather can be deadly and trying to make the good months cover poor ones can be a struggle.

Explain your new event?

To help with slow months I launched a vintage fair in Buriton in July. It’s a bimonthly event and the first one went very well. The next one is September 10 and we have space for more stallholders.


Phoenix Antiques, Church Street, Petworth, East Sussex, GU28 0AD

Contact: sara-hughes@btconnect.com