Curtain up for One Ark’s Win a Shop winner as it opens for business

Prescot Shopping Centre’s revival took a two-step in the right direction this weekend [4th April 2015] as local entrepreneur Cathryn O’Grady opened the doors of her eagerly awaited new business, The Dance Shop. The opening of the store, an exciting addition to the town’s increasingly busy high street, was made possible by Liverpool City Region investment charity One Ark’s Win a Shop competition, of which Cathryn was the lucky winner.  

The Mayor of Knowsley, Councillor Frank Walsh, welcomed Cathryn and her business to the shopping centre. A cast of entertainers including face painters, dancers and flash mobs, along with an Easter egg hunt, created a buzz for attendees and shoppers at the launch event. Bouncy castles and free gifts were also on hand. Cathryn was able to showcase the high quality dance wear that The Dance Shop offers. 

One Ark, part of the First Ark Group, announced Cathryn O’Grady as its competition winner in December 2014. For her prize, Cathryn secured a rent free unit for one year in Prescot Shopping Centre, a free customised fit out of the space from North West facilities management company Vivark and mentoring from the organisations backing the competition, including Knowsley Council and Merseyside Special Investment Fund.

In order to scoop the retail launch package, Cathryn had to beat off stiff competition from 11 other finalists and undertake an extensive application process, which included a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style interview grilling and the management of a Christmas market stall under the watchful eye of a panel of judges.

Helen Wills, director of enterprise and investment at One Ark, said: “We’re immensely proud to see another Knowsley business thriving because of the Win a Shop campaign. What’s even better than this is the social impact that the launch of a new business such as The Dance Shop can have on the wider Prescot area.

“New businesses help to add diversity and footfall to the high street and bring employment opportunities to the borough, benefitting both businesses and communities. Every project undertaken by the One Ark team is designed to bring together partners in collaboration, working together to create measurable and economic results for those around us, something I think we’ve certainly achieved with this competition.”

Commenting on her shop opening, Cathryn said: “The support from One Ark in moving my business idea from paper to something very real has been amazing. The team’s help and support has made my dream a reality and I know they will be with me every step of the way during my first year of trading.”


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