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Keep it going, Keep it local in our Pop up Shop

Building a Hub of Hope in Stoke on Trent – a story of community & creativity – Emily Whitehead, BID Business Support Officer

Imagine the scene. You’re a super fan of creative, independent and local business. You love locally brewed beer too and love to share the very best about your local area. Then you notice that local artists, makers and creatives need support, a network and somewhere beautiful to sell their wares so you set up pop up shops, markets and a flagship store to do just that!


This is the story of Andy and his wife Laura, the heart and genius behind Keep It Local, an award winning business showcasing the very best of local talent. I visited their pop up store in The Potteries Centre and was immediately struck by the sheer quality and range of gifts, clothes and more on sale. Beautifully merchandised, with help from team at JAGG Design, the store stands tall compared to any trendy city centre store you might more easily associate with a visit to Manchester, Sheffield or London.

With a cool, understated vibe, the store is cleverly curated to take you on a journey from tiny hand made earrings to denim clothes and hand poured candles. Better still, Andy is on hand to tell you the story of any of the makers on show, with his obvious passion and dedication to each of his members. This local knowledge and understanding, really adds depth to the shopping experience, as you discover the ideas, stories and journeys of those who have displayed their makes.

How did I feel? Inspired that there are quite so many talented creatives right here in Stoke on Trent. Excited to see something new and uplifting in the Potteries Centre and finally, so much clearer about why a visit to Hanley is a refreshed and positive experience. Keep It Local’s Potteries Centre Pop Up is open until the end of April but they have also announced that they will be back from October to Christmas 2024. The perfect opportunity to shop local, handmade and artisan. Here’s a little back story…

It started in 2021 when Andy started to take and post pics from his love of a local beer when he became aware just how much support and spotlight local businesses needed. He was talking to local makers and creatives about the challenges involved in making their businesses full time or find places to sell their products in an affordable, sustainable and attractive way.

Andy says that the biggest challenge for many a talented maker is to do enough business to make a living full time. Although online selling is clearly an easy option from a tech point of view, it’s not an easy pathway to a full time income. Andy also says that it’s a real challenge to work alone to make, package & sell your designs without help and support, both from fellow makers who might share your journey and customers who want to easily find you and buy from you. Keep It Local has now worked with 150 makers from across the city and county through network events and selling their wares in their flagship store in Longton, and now their pop up shop in The Potteries Centre in Hanley.

Recognised in the 2023 Potteries Centre Awards, their mission is to change the shopping habits of those visiting their stores by diverting some of their spending power to local creative makers. In fact, Andy goes one step further and says that 2024 will see more pop up opportunities and create a ‘hub of hope’ for local artists, makers and designers. Alongside his son Harry and father in law, Andy and Laura are developing a winning team to see their vision and passion for Stoke on Trent continue to go from strength to strength.

‘We are so proud to represent the talented local makers in our city. As the city of creativity we should be very proud of the pits, pots and steel which formed the very back bone of Stoke on Trent and has given inspiration to the next generation of incredible artisans. We often get told by people that they love our positivity when they watch our social media or visit us in our shops. Our response is always the same – We are passionate about our City, our communities and the incredibly talented people we have here in Stoke. Proud to represent our City that sits within the county of creativity!’

How can you get involved and feel the positive vibes of Keep It Local, while offering your support? Here are some top tips.

• Make a plan to visit Hanley by the 28th of April to visit Keep It Local. Enjoy a happy mooch around the store, learn more about creative Stoke and maybe even make a purchase. You can follow this up with a delicious coffee at one of the many indie coffee shops in town.

• Follow Keep It Local on social media to make sure you don’t miss out on their next adventure or new maker launch.

• Share your positive experiences with everyone you know so that together we can change the narrative about the city centre from one of gloom, to one of an exciting future.

For more information about Andy, Laura and Keep It Local, please visit their website

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