How a Whitley Bay art shop has become a gem in the local community

For The Love of The North turns five this year

An adored Whitley Bay seafront art shop celebrated its fifth birthday this month.

For The Love of The North is one of the region's leading creative lights with their store showcasing local artists' work and owners Paul and Lucy Hull are always active in the community.

The passion project was launched online in 2017 but had soon grown into a shop and now, five years down the line, For The Love of The North sits pride of place on the Whitley Bay seafront.

Since its conception, the shop has supported over 70 local artists, raised £15,000 for charities and won Best Newcomer at the 2020 Great Gift Retailer Awards for Midlands, North and Scotland.

The shop is also a certified Living Wage employer and has hired three people through the Kick Start initiative.

As For The Love of The North celebrates their fifth birthday, NewcastleWorld heads down to Whitley Bay to meet owner Paul and find out the story behind the shop.

Paul said: "I used to work for North Tyneside Council. I used to run the Tourist Information Centres in the borough but, like so many up and down the country, they got cut.

"Lucy and I both knew there was a wealth of talent in the region with artists and creatives.

"We also knew there was a huge sense of pride in the region and that people love home here.

Lucy and Paul run the shop together

"I took my redundancy from the council, which is one of the best things I've ever done, and we launched the website on Valentine's Day in 2017."

That launch day helped influence For The Love of North's name and it was all about the online store at first.

Soon an opening for a shop in the centre of Whitley Bay came up in the summer of 2017 and the couple jumped on the opportunity.

A couple of years later, just before 2019, the store moved down to Spanish City on the seafront.

Since then there has, of course, been the pandemic, but Paul has seen even more keenness to shop local.

He said: "People have really embraced shopping local.

"They've realised everything they need is on their doorstep.

"What's been lovely with us is that people know Lucy and I are husband and wife and this is our livelihood, but we also support artists and creatives from all over the North East.

People put up the shop’s prints over lockdown

"By buying from us you're not just supporting us, but the artists and it all goes back into the local economy."

Paul also goes on to speak of how "chuffed" he is to now be able to employ local people at the shop.

The owner praises his "fabulous" team and acknowledges the benefits of the Kick Start scheme in hiring and developing local young people.

During lockdowns, For The Love of The North began selling designs of local areas with rainbows over, donating profits to the Northumbria NHS Bright Charity which amounted to over £10,000.

Paul said: "It was wonderful, especially during that first lockdown, to see those [the prints] in Whitley Bay.

"It was really uplifting."

You can visit For The Love of The North at Unit 2, Spanish City and online here.