Paula Rippingale Mills of Rippingales Antiques and Collectables.

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How long have you had the shop?

I have been trading in antiques for about 15 years in all, at various antiques centres and fairs to start with. Before that, what you might call my ‘proper job’ was working at Westminster for the House of Commons commission in finance and administration.

Who works with you?

I don’t employ any staff but run the shop with the invaluable help of my lovely husband David. He does the lifting and delivering, and stands behind the counter so that I can go out on visits and get to auctions. I couldn’t do it without him.

How has the passing trade changed since you’ve been running the business?

In terms of numbers it has fallen quite a lot and the type of goods people want has changed. My stock is quite different than it was at the beginning. I still prefer to sell traditional antiques and I have a special interest (I don’t say I’m a specialist) in childhood collectables. I now sell a lot of advertising, metal signs, homewares and items for the garden.

No one particularly needs what I sell, but antiques can make you happy. So in a way, you do need them.

Given an unlimited budget what is the one change you would make to the shop?

Get a bigger premises!

Why is it a good idea for buyers to go to shops?

When buying old things you need to be able to handle them. The importance of condition varies from seller to seller and no web entry, no matter how good, is going to tell you all you need to know.

When visiting shops you have the benefit of the knowledge and experience of the seller and their access to a network of other dealers. You also have time to think usually in an unpressured environment, and to go away to measure up or whatever. But if you spot something you like, don’t meditate for too long.

Rippingales Antiques and Collectables

High Street, Clare, Suffolk