Stocked entirely with high quality, used household goods consigned by local residents, the shop first opened in one half of the building in November 2019.
The concept has proven so successful that the shop has now expanded into the entire ground floor of the building, located in one of Pulborough’s conservation areas, in the process regenerating a significant commercial building in the village.
The Pulborough Exchange has now become a mini local department store, offering everything from furniture, china, glassware and art to kitchenware, sporting goods, musical instruments, linens, lamps, tools and hobby items.
Elizabeth Hunt, director of The Pulborough Exchange, said: "Having had a very difficult time emptying a family home, we thought there might be a need for a consignment shop, something in-between a charity shop and auction house, that could help people dispose of items they no longer need or want.
"We’d seen consignment stores in the US and thought the concept could work well in West Sussex, offering people an easy way to generate income from a clear out while also saving useful items from being thrown away."
The Pulborough Exchange sells consigned items both in the shop and online, and has already sold everything from a vintage accordion to gardening tools
Consignors receive 40% of the proceeds from the sale of their items, and since opening, the shop has registered over 450 consignors, with some from as far away as Bognor Regis, Worthing and Scotland.
The team of four local employees has logged over 10,000 items which are sold both in the store and through the company’s eBay shop.
Elizabeth Hunt continued: "By helping residents recycle goods they no longer need or want, the shop provides a useful service, and funds, for downsizers and those moving or clearing out homes. At the same time, the shop helps people furnish their homes affordably, with items that are often of far higher quality than can be purchased new.
"The shop has also become a village hub, a place where people can drop in to browse and enjoy catching up with both the team and other shoppers. They can then enjoy a coffee or meal at the Little Bean Café as well as shopping at other Lower Street businesses.
"The success of the concept, where consigned goods are sold in both the physical and the online shop demonstrates that this kind of sustainable enterprise works, and it could be a model to help towns and villages in other parts of the country revive their commercial areas."
According to Elizabeth, Shop profits currently support four local part time salaries and are helping to pay for the regeneration of the Lower Street property.
She also said prospective consignors usually bring smaller items into the shop for the team to review, but for larger items, or for those making a special trip to the shop, it’s best to send pictures before bringing them in, in case they aren’t suitable. For house clearances, the exchange team can also do home visits.
Elizabeth said: "Buyers seem to come from everywhere. Some of our consignors are also buyers – looking for interesting new pieces for their own homes or as gifts. Savvy dealers have also found us and stop by regularly to see what’s new.
“Our experience shows that high street retail is far from dead – as long as you’re offering something people need and want, buyers are there.”
The Pulborough Exchange is open Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm. Parking in the Pulborough village car park, just steps from the shop.