A budding entrepreneur from one of Stoke-on-Trent’s markets is celebrating after making it through to the final of a national competition.
Bernadette Hutchins was one of only 100 people chosen to make it to the last stage of the National Market Traders Federation’s (NMTF) First Pitch scheme, supported by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
She was picked by judges after impressing when given a fortnight to test out her business idea on a market in the city. Bernadette test traded on Hanley Indoor Market with her corset and burlesque accessory store Curve A Peel.
Now she will benefit from a discounted rental structure on the market for the next 12 months as part of her prize to help her blossoming business grow. She will also receive one year’s free membership of the NMTF and a mentor to help guide her.
Bernadette, aged 53, who lives in Blurton, said: “This is an opportunity to realise a dream I’ve had for many years.
“In the two weeks I traded at Hanley Indoor Market, I had a great time. The most enjoyable aspect was all of the positive feedback I received. The customers have been impressed with the quality, variety of stock and the one-to-one customer service they receive and the other stall holders and staff have all been very friendly.
“My future holds a number of exciting possibilities. I’ve been very impressed with the market and I’d encourage people to come down and take a look at all of the stalls and everything that’s on offer. It really is a great place.”
At the end of the 12 months, Bernadette will be invited to a Market Master Class and Awards Ceremony, where one first pitcher will bag £2,000 to boost their business to the next level.
Councillor Paul Shotton, cabinet member for economic development, said: “It’s great to hear Bernadette has been successful and made it through to the final.
“It goes to show just how thriving our markets are for business and what great assets they are for the city as a whole. I’d encourage anyone who is thinking of following in Bernadette’s footsteps to get in touch with our market department and start the ball rolling.”
Joe Harrison, chief executive of NMTF, said: “I’d like to congratulate Bernadette on becoming a finalist on the First Pitch scheme. She is one of 100 finalists across the UK and alongside Stoke-on-Trent City Council we will support her to grow her business on the market.
“Last year’s scheme was a great success, with a third of candidates still trading on the markets today. Bernadette has demonstrated to us that she’s got the hunger and a market stall is the ideal way to turn her passion into a profit.”
From the renovated Victorian Market at Tunstall to the modern Hanley Market in the city centre, or the traditional markets in Stoke and Longton, the council’s four indoor markets have something to please everyone. Stoke-on-Trent markets also operate five outdoor markets to ensure shoppers are never far away from one of the markets.
To watch a video of Bernadette on her market stall, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMw3lAQc-fo
Via: National Market Traders Federation
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