My Acton: Laura Forsyth, The Village Trading Store

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Laura Forsyth runs The Village Trading Store on Churchfield Road.   Crammed with all sorts of gifts, homeware, jewellery, vintage clothing, lovely character furniture, the store also has a coffee shop and homemade cakes.

A former television props buyer and set decorator, Forsyth is the daughter of Britain's most loved TV personality, Bruce. 

Which part of Acton do you call home?  I live in Acton Central just off Horn Lane.

How long have you lived in Acton?  I’ve lived here seven years. I moved here originally because all the prop houses are nearby. As a prop buyer, it was quicker and closer to be near the places where we needed to buy things for tv shows.We wanted to start a family and wanted house. But after looking in Chiswick, we realised there’s more value for money in Acton. An estate agent actually told me Acton was much nicer than Chiswick because there are lots of lovely people, lots of media people and all the criminals go to Chiswick to do the crimes. 

Why did you open The Village Trading Store?  We opened a year ago, on the 12 December.  The tv prop business is having a really hard time and there weren’t many jobs around. Opening a shop was something that had been in my mind for fifteen years. And when I was looking in Acton I drove down Churchfield Road and it had a wonderful atmosphere about it - I thought one day it could be like Portobello. 

I was in Brooklyn, New York in the mid-90s and I walked into a card shop with a coffee bar at the back and that was very inspiring to me. I wanted the word ‘Village’ in the title of the shop because I want to bring back the concept of the Village back to the city.  If I’d opened a shop a hundred years ago I’d probably be running a general store selling lard and pork pies. The mantle and bar in the shop has been used as a prop in the stage show ‘Me and My Girl’. It’s also for sale! 

What's the best thing about living in Acton?  I would say the fact that my child can go to school at the end of the road, I can walk to work. Everything is very close. The community is fantastic.  I got to know a lot of people through going to Maples Nursery..that social network has grown.  There are a lot of creative people here too, which has always been a big surprise.  

Worst thing? The foxes!  I hate the smell of them!  I have a very sensitive nose and when I come out of my front door in the morning, it’s all I smell. And of course the deposits they leave aren’t good.  

What does Acton have that is unique to London? I think the people who live here are unique.  There’s not many places in London where you can live and have a real sense of community.  I walk down the road and wave to people and say hello. I don’t think that happens that often any more in London. 

What's the strangest thing you've seen in Acton? When we were first looking in Acton, I saw a couple of guys with a sofa on two skateboards. One was sitting on the sofa and the other was pushing it. They were going the wrong way down the street. 

What would make life in Acton better? More shops in Churchfield Road, more boutiques. A Marks and Spencer in the high street would be great.  If Waitrose came back to their roots….a cinema would be nice. 

What's your typical night out in Acton? I like the Rocket and the Station House with local friends, either after the school run or in the evening.  

One interesting thing about you?  Back in the 80s, I joined my sister’s band, called ‘Guys and Dolls’. They were very famous in the 1970s with the hit ‘There’s a Whole Lot of Loving’.  I was in the group for about a year.  I worked as a session singer for a few years, before working in television as a prop buyer and set decorator. I mostly worked for Rory Bremner on his tv show, Bremner, Bird and Fortune for Channel 4.  

Favourite place for a spot of lunch? I get my lunch from the Churchfield Cafe, across the road. 

Best kept secret in Acton? Me! People still come into the shop and ask how long we’ve been open. Our collection of so many items ranging from toys to homeware to the odd lovely piece of vintage clothing or stylish boots.  Also we have really good coffee and homemade cakes made by locals. A man came into the shop after going to Costcutter across the road just for a look. He tried on a beautiful Paul Smith suit. It fit him like a glove and when he left he said ‘I only went out for a bag of potatoes.’



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December 22, 2010