Back in 2012, the dusty, disused shell of 14a Tower Street was discovered by Carolyn and Roderick as they scoured the home counties, desperately seeking a new home for Merchant & Mills. The business was born in Herefordshire, but Sussex beckoned. Little did they know, the struggle to find the right place was about to end.

The former toy factory was now a leaky, cold and unloved warehouse. Replete with pigeons, mice and old school desks, its crowning glory was an Airstream caravan, plonked in the middle. From first sight, its potential was obvious. After some investigation and a lot of hard graft the site was transformed into our studio, warehouse and shop. We sourced antique cabinets and snooker table lights, made tables from old Singer treadle bases and even constructed a rail made from some rather aged crutches. It was a magical time and the reception we got really made Rye feel like home.

As the years progressed, so did our business. We started to stock more cloth, the tables got bigger and bigger as the space got smaller and smaller. We reached the decision to renovate the space in 2017. We moved out and the work began. We operated from our temporary shop around the corner, using market stalls and improvisation, and you still all came.

In early 2019 we launched the crisp and airy studio that is now the Rye Store. We added a mezzanine and the whole of the ground floor was all shop. Upstairs was the brand new sewing school. It felt like a re-birth with space for staff, customers and even all the cloth. We got to work doing what we love best, and filled it in no time!

Ten years on, we look back with so much warmth. We’ve met so many customers over the years, shared stories and most of all been inspired by you. The journey we’ve been on has been travelled together. We look forward to the next ten years, when we hope to welcome you to the little piece of the world that you have helped us create.

Thank you from all of us at Merchant & Mills

Our first ever shop. How proud we were!

Making antiques earn their keep.

Crutches and Singer treadle bases in action.

Our temporary shop, market stall phase and the original shop dog, Flower.

The new bright and airy space when we launched back in 2019

Our shop today.