November 25, 2019 @ 10:02 by Richard Dawson
The handPICKED shop based at intu Metrocentre’s Green Mall is celebrating its fifth year in business.
The shop was made possible by Gateshead College who launched it in 2014 to give enterprising students and other retail entrepreneurs the opportunity to sell their products to the public.
In the last five years, the shop has provided retail, customer service and marketing experience to many young people while enabling local traders to stock their handmade gifts and accessories.
Many of the arts and crafts sold at handPICKED have a North East theme and since the shop opened thousands of products have been sold by more than 100 different retailers.
Gateshead College placed an emphasis on making handPICKED accessible to all students and as a result many who have special educational needs and disabilities have gained worked experience there.
Judith Doyle, principal and CEO of Gateshead College, said: “We established handPICKED to help us to fulfil our purpose as a college, which is to offer our learners opportunities that will make them stand out and give them the employment edge.
“It is fantastic to be marking the five-year anniversary of our shop. In this time, we have worked with many individuals who have either been able to start or grow their business, begin their retail and customer service careers or develop the skills and experiences to help them succeed in the future.”
James Dixon from Bedlington is a freelance graphic designer who has stocked his range of greetings cards in handPICKED since 2018. His business, Lines Behind, is proving to be a huge success.
James said: “I started designing and printing cards in my spare time while working full-time as a graphic designer. When I approached handPICKED to stock my cards, I got lots of advice and support from the store manager, Dawn, she helped me develop my product range and I really owe a lot to her.
“As a small business, it’s fantastic to be able to stock my designs in somewhere like the Metrocentre and to be stocked alongside lots of other North East products feels really special.”
Shadi Al Kasem, from Newcastle, is studying business admin at Gateshead College and is currently completing a work placement in handPICKED.
He added: “I’m really enjoying working in handPICKED and having this opportunity to learn about business admin in a real workplace.”