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Joe Chaffer of Vagabond Antiques & Décor.

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His shop is based in The Flower Barn at Barnham, a space he shares with Rose & Bird Event and Wedding Floristry.

vagabondshop.co.uk

1. How did you get your start?

Antiques is in my blood – I’m not sure I had much of a choice. My mum took me to Ardingly when I was just a few months old and I was dragged to fairs as a child.

For the last 15 years or so I did my own thing, working in menswear in London, but I’ve always wanted my own business. I quit my job, started up a small shop in the function room of my local pub and built from there.

2. Tell me about your premises now.

It’s a big barn down a country lane, a little out the way but it has low overheads compared to a place on the high street which means I can price competitively and keep creative control over what I sell. I’m not forced to deal in what I don’t like just to pay the bills.

3. Fairs vs shops?

Both. I don’t think you can build a successful shop without fairs, which feed the business with contacts and customers as well as providing inspiration and highlight changing trends. If I had opened a shop and sat waiting for customers I wouldn’t be in business now. Still, I think the majority of us would love a busy shop – life would be easier and I’d break less stock!

4. One rule you live by?

‘Buy now, think later’. I know this doesn’t sound very smart but I like to buy at fairs and markets where keeping on your toes and making quick decisions pays off. There’s nothing worse than missing out on something, it can haunt me for months. Having the opportunity to buy privately or from auction is great – you can set your pricing, work out your margin and think about the end consumer. Realistically, though, I have to trust my gut instinct and then work the rest out later.

5. Real ale or espresso martini?

Neither, I learnt the hard way about buying on a hangover!

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