On Tuesday 15th April, an exciting new retail space in Rotherham was opened by Minister for High Streets Brandon Lewis and TV personality and retail expert Mary Portas.
The Makers Emporium is a partnership between Rotherham Council, The Source Skills Academy and Rotherham Youth Enterprise and is just one example of how the Portas Pilot, where a group 24 English towns have been chosen to participate in a scheme designed to help to rejuvenate their shopping areas, is already making a difference to the Rotherham High Street.
The Makers Emporium is an exciting new retail space showcasing a variety of products hand-made by local crafters, artists and designers. The store was opened by a trio of high-profile guests, retail expert and TV presenter Mary Portas, the Minister for High Streets, Brandon Lewis, and Councillor Roger Stone OBE, Leader of Rotherham Council.
Mary Portas was impressed with the new retail space and with the rejuvenation of Rotherham High Street and said “I’m bursting with pride at everything that’s been achieved in Rotherham. The town team have done an extraordinary job increasing footfall and reducing vacancy rates but most of all producing a place people want to shop in and feel at home in”.
More than 30 makers have populated the space with an array of products including handmade bags and clothing, home-wares, gifts and hand-crafted fine silver jewellery.
One of the makers, Paris Cheetham, owner of Panache Par Paris, said "I think the Makers Emporium looks absolutely fantastic and I’m really proud to display my hand made paper products and gifts here. I set up my business over a year ago and currently sell trade to five local shops. This is the first time that I have had a physical space devoted totally to my products, and the initial reaction from customers has been incredibly positive. The Makers Emporium has provided me with a fantastic opportunity to sell my products in a first class location on Rotherham High Street, helping me to grow my business and get closer to my dream of owning my own retail unit."
Matt Webster, Store Manager at The Makers Emporium said “Today has been fantastic, there was a really good turnout and the tills have been ringing which is a promising start for us. We hope to encourage people to come and not only see our store but see what their local High Street now has to offer”.
The project also supports youth employment in the area with staff being made up from mostly retail apprentices who will be studying towards a qualification in retail at The Source whilst learning on the job in the store. Megan Smith, one of the new apprentices at the store said "I’m really enjoying my apprenticeship at the Makers Emporium. I have learnt so much about the world of retail in such a short period of time, and have already gained some fantastic experience in customer service, visual merchandising and organising stock. It has been incredible to work closely alongside all of the talented makers to design creative displays for their products, and I can't wait to work alongside them during the coming months to help ensure the initiative is a success."