Sussex Lighting, one of the brightest and most vibrant shopping experiences in Horsham town centre, will be closing its doors at the end of March. AAH met the owners, husband and wife Andy and Suzannah Coe, as they prepare to bow out on a high...
Andy: Sussex Lighting is an Aladdin's Cave of treasures. That’s what people always say. Or that it’s like a sweet shop, with countless beautiful things catching the eye. We’re proud of that, as it was always our intention to be a ‘destination’ outlet, where people could happily spend an hour or two. There are people we affectionately call ‘finger pointers’, who excitedly point out all the things they love!
Suzie: It wasn’t always the dazzling array of lighting you see today. I went into this project with no retail background and we literally had to build all the displays and partitions from scratch. We started with merely a handful of ceiling lights, whereas now there are over 60. We have filled every nook and cranny with lights from Tiffany lamps to crystal chandeliers, as well as art, glassware, antique furniture, clocks and unique gifts, so it’s become more of an emporium than a lighting shop. Our strategy has always been to buy things we like and hope that others like them too!
Andy: People assume I was the driving force behind the business, as I had previously managed a smaller lighting shop in the town centre. The experience and knowledge I brought was important, but the vision for the shop was all Suzie’s. She had always liked the idea of running a shop and we have great memories of sharing ideas and mapping out our plans. The idea of stocking high price items to create a visually stunning display was something I was hesitant about, but Suzie was adamant and has been proven right.
Suzie: We have sold lights over £10,000 and some complete house fits have surpassed £50,000, and have been fortunate to be an authorised outlet for leading brands, including Swarovski. Those more expensive items don’t always sell, but they generate huge interest in the shop and inspire ideas. Customers see something they love and have a vision for what they can do in their own home, within their own budget. The shop has always been about encouraging people to explore and discover.
Tiffany lamps at Sussex Lighting
Andy, Suzie and the team celebrate the shop’s opening
The shop sells beautiful chandeliers
Sussex Lighting is renowned for its unique gifts
Andy: The shop draws people in. Even at night, passers-by see this striking display, although the effect is largely created by bouncing a few lights off the glittering chandeliers. Every day, someone quips, ‘Your electricity bill must be through the roof!’ Actually, advancements in LED technology have been so great that we run on 94% less power than we once did. Over the years, we’ve seen the evolution from incandescent to fluorescent to LED bulbs.
Suzie: For a time, we also ran a consultancy service, visiting customers’ homes and choosing the right lights for their house and lifestyle. We enjoyed doing this and met many lovely people, but it could also cause frustration. We would invest time into visiting homes, discussing ideas and sourcing products, but some people would then find the products we’d suggested at a cheaper price online. Sometimes, they did this on their phones, right in front of us! They couldn’t understand that we needed to recoup costs for our time and expertise! Fortunately, there has been a shift in recent years and people generally have more appreciation of good service.
Andy: We opened during a recession and grew through positive word-of-mouth, as we’ve always loved helping people. We have never pushed a sale and our staff have been trained with the same ethos. We take great pride in helping customers and will even down-sell sometimes. People come in looking for a new lamp, when all they really need is the right bulb for night reading, which might only cost a couple of pounds. We look after people, whether they’re buying a bulb or fitting out their entire home.
Suzie: We’ve had our fair share of drama over the years. One poor customer fell into the Tiffany lamps, and one time a very expensive bespoke chandelier was made with the wrong colour crystals! There was also one ‘Only Fools and Horses’ moment where a chandelier plummeted from the ceiling during installation! But it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience on the whole. However, all good things come to an end and we want to leave on a high.
Andy: Why are we closing? When we started out, we took on 15-year lease with a five- year break clause. Running the shop successfully for 15 years was the best case scenario and we’ve achieved that.
Abstract lighting inspire ideas (©AAH/Toby Phillips)
Ceramics, glassware and gifts at Sussex Lighting (©AAH/Toby Phillips)
Suzie: The business isn’t closing because it’s struggling. I am approaching a big birthday and it’s time to focus on new challenges. I have grandchildren that I’d like to see more of, and also want to devote more time to gardening, caring for animals and art. Drawing and painting was a childhood passion and I hope to do more creative projects in retirement. There is a sense of us wanting to go out on top too and we’ve been refreshing the shop with many new items. It’s looking better than ever before!
Andy: I will carry on with Sussex Lighting Repairs. I’ve been repairing and rewiring for even longer than Sussex Lighting has been going, and have a workshop at home. It’s my happy place! I have a colleague who is an expert restorer too, so we can cover most projects between us.
Suzie: It’s going to be a sad day when we close. However, we’re proud of what we’ve achieved and that we contributed to the town in which we were both born and bred. We will always have a legacy at Wakefield Jewellers on West Street too. During their extensive refurbishment, Wakefield’s used local contractors and suppliers and we were fortunate to be chosen to install the lighting. The shop looks incredible and it’s a great feeling for us to step inside, knowing we played a part in the project.
Andy: Another key to our success has been our staff, especially Tash Morley and Dan Bird, who have been here for 10 and seven years respectively. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Horsham community too and of course our customers, many of whom have become friends. We’ve loved it and will miss it hugely, but now it is time for us to embark on the next chapter of our lives.
WORDS: BEN MORRIS
PHOTOS: ALAN WRIGHT/TOBY PHILLIPS/
Sussex Lighting will be holding a sale from 9 January (see advert) and is scheduled to close its doors on 31 March 2023.
Visit: West Point, Springfield Road, Horsham, RH12 2PD
Tel: (01403) 241933
AAH Magazine Horsham