Start-up firms urged to enter The Mall Norwich competition

An entrepreneur is urging start-up businesses to follow in her footsteps by applying for a Norwich retail competition that helped kick-start her trade.

Gaynor Houlton, of North Walsham, won The Mall Norwich's competition, The Retail Factor, last year for her attention-grabbing collection of boutique doorstops.

Formerly known as Make Your Mark, the contest exposes businesses to the thousands of customers that pass through The Mall each week by giving them the opportunity to trade inside the shopping centre for free. The 51-year-old, who runs TFT Designs, said: 'We did really well out of the competition. We had a lot of sales in our first week and have had a lot of hits on the website since. You get a lot of footfall in The Mall Norwich. It provides you with a platform to get noticed and only good can come of it.'

All the doorstops are hand-made by a small team in North Norfolk and come in a range of designs including a cat, a chicken and a dog.

And since winning the competition Mrs Houlton has seen the demand for them grow online and across the county with regular stands at the Sandringham and Blickling Hall craft fairs.

She continued: 'People like to have something that is a little bit different and the competition does a good job of promoting businesses and ideas that you would not necessarily find elsewhere on the high street.'

The Mall Norwich,in partnership with the Evening News, launched this year's Retail Factor to give start-up businesses the chance to win two months free trading at The Mall.

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The competition is worth more than �10,000, with each business chosen by the judges receiving a stall in a prime position on the shopping floor.

All entries will be judged by a local panel which includes Alan Day, general manager for The Mall Norwich, and Elaine Maslin, the acting business editor for the EDP and Norwich Evening News.

The Retail Factor was launched on January 17 and will run for five weeks until the closing date for applications on Sunday, February 20.

If you want to enter the competition, you can collect an application form from The Mall Norwich Ask Me point on level two of the shopping centre, or you can download a form online from

For more information about TFT Designs you can visit the website at

Have you won a major competition? Contact Evening News reporter Ben Woods on 01603 772439 or email