SO, if you've got a great retailing idea but need help and advice to get it off the ground, this is your chance to make it happen...
THE entrepreneurial door of opportunity is set to swing open for one new business in Stockton with the chance to win nearly £60,000 worth of free trading for a year.
Shop Start, launched by Wellington Square Shopping Centre and supported by the Evening Gazette as media partner, is an opportunity for entrepreneurs, start-up businesses, market traders and even those recently made redundant, to launch a new venture in one of the town’s busiest retail quarters.
Recent arrivals at the centre include T-Mobile, Orange, The Works bookshop and FX Currency alongside a number of regional retailers, with Divalimit, sandwich chain O’Brien’s, and a furniture retailer on the horizon. Footfall rose in June by around 5,000 shoppers, reflecting the centre’s lettings policy, which aims to keep every window full.
The Shop Start prize includes a year’s trading from a 674 sq ft unit, free of rent, rates, insurance and service charges.
The winning trader will be selected on the strength of their retail idea and robust business plan, with organisers - Wellington Square operators Stenham and landlords Park Lane Estates - expecting the new business to be up and running for the busy Christmas period.
Adam Jaffe, investment manager at Stenham, said: “The timing of the competition is perfect as it allows for a Christmas opening, with the extra spend that brings.
“Not only will the sales bring in extra shoppers, the widely anticipated increase in VAT back to 17.5% at the start of 2010 will provide another incentive to spend before the New Year.
“The competition winner is certainly going to have a great start in business.”
Applications are invited from a wide range of prospective retailers, some of whom may have been trading from home.
Individuals and fledging businesses will be given an opportunity to pitch their retail concepts to a panel of business judges who will be looking for innovative, sustainable business ideas that demonstrate the potential to succeed - be it toys, hairdressing, pet grooming, food or baby products.
All entries must be submitted by September 5. All successful short-listed applicants will receive written confirmation of the decision and be invited to attend informal interviews.
Finalists will be invited to pitch their idea to a panel of leading local business people.
FULL details of the prize and entry procedures can be found at gazettelive.co.uk/shopstart where you can also complete the entry form and business plan.