Trading Boundaries, situated in the heart of the Ashdown Forest, is pleased to be celebrating its 20th birthday this year. For owners Michael Clifford and Tracy Thomson it’s been an extraordinary journey: “We were both interested in interior design during the mid-1990s and became aware of fabulous Indian furniture arriving into the UK, but it was only available in expensive London boutiques. Michael’s mother was born in India (his grandparents were missionaries out there) and having visited as a teenager he had a real affinity to the Country, so we decided he should travel back out to see if he could find these amazing products himself. A trip to India was planned in early 1996 and the rest as they say, is history…” says Tracy.
Starting their business in a barn in Dormansland importing Indian furniture, and then moving a couple of years later to transform a derelict Georgian coaching inn, that had at times had a dubious reputation as the Sheffield Arms, into a retail emporium. “From our simple beginnings, it’s extraordinary to realise how the business has developed over the years. It’s been a roller-coaster ride, but we are very proud of what we’ve achieved and are very happy to be part of the community.” comments Michael, adding: “I can’t quite believe it has been 20 years!”
Known by many locally as ‘The Elephant Place’ due to its large carved elephants on the front lawn, Trading Boundaries has expanded over the years, so is not only an amazing shopping experience with its extensive selection of Indian furniture, contemporary ranges, textiles, jewellery, homeware, gifts and accessories, but also has a café with a lovely outside area, gallery and independent courtyard boutiques... and as the sun goes down, the café transforms into a stunning, magical live music venue hosting acts such as The Brand New Heavies, Focus, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer, Steve Hackett from Genesis and many more… and in 2014 was voted as one of the top ten music venues in the UK by a national music magazine.
“To celebrate our 20th anniversary we are hosting a number of events - including our first outdoor boutique music festival at the end of July, which proved a great success. India is still very close to our hearts, so this year we are supporting a wonderful charity The Sambhali Trust - helping some of the poorest women and children in Rajasthan, and over the years we are pleased to have supported charities and events in the local area too. We have a number of events coming up in the autumn and winter including our Proms night and Charity Music Quiz in September, the Roger Dean exhibition in October as well as our ever-popular Christmas parties in December and lots more in between!” says Michael.