Farming is and always has been the mainstay as far as work is concerned in Chailey. The village does, however, stand on the clay belt and for the past 250 years has been noted for its pottery, terra-cotta flowerpots, tiles and bricks. The original works were founded by the 'Norman' family, but now are owned by 'Ibstock'. In years gone by, as in other parts of Sussex, iron was smelted here, and the resultant slag and cinders were used to surface the roads. Evidence of this can be found in local place names, such as 'Cinder Hill'. To the north of the village in 1898, Mr Albert Turner established sawmills, on land owned by Lord Sheffield. It was originally powered by water from the River Ouse, but this was found to be inefficient and the operation eventually converted to steam power. The company changed hands several times and in latter years was owned by the Finnish company Woodpax Ltd. Sadly they have now pulled out of the UK. In the same area was a dairy known as the 'Sheffield Park Creamery'. This undertaking still survives and continues to expand, now being owned by 'Express Dairies'.
Modern Chailey includes three Public Houses: The King's Head, The Five Bells and The Horns Lodge, positioned at intervals along the A-275 travelling north to south.
The Village Shop and General Stores is also located on the A-275, just south of The Horns Lodge.
A petrol station and convenience store lies directly opposite The King's Head, and a car repair shop is on the same site.