North East Connected


A growing business has provided an opportunity for a family to re-unite back home in Teesside.

 The Celebrity Gift Company, which sources and sells collectible gifts from around the world, has opened its first shop in Middlesbrough’s Dundas Market.

 “The business started by accident really,” says founder Karen Riley. “I came across a lot of Betty Boop figurines at a car boot sale.  I kept them for a while and they were taking up room so I stuck them on eBay and I just realised how much in demand these things are.”

 Betty Boop figurines remain one of the company’s best-sellers, alongside Elvis Presley, but The Celebrity Gift Company also offers an extensive range of key rings, mugs, bags, figures and toys. 

 They feature iconic actors – such as Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne – popular television programmes, from Star Trek to Game of Thrones, as well as characters from Disney and Harry Potter films. 

 “We get loads of imports from America: things that you can’t get over here or aren’t readily available on the High Street,” says Karen.

 The company has been trading successfully online for four years.  For a while, though, Karen and her husband Ian have also been thinking about opening a shop: to help the business to grow and allow their family to come back together. 

 Eight years ago the Rileys moved from Marske to Somerset where they both had jobs in the construction industry.  Their daughter Claire and her family have been living in Canada for the past three years and moved back to Teesside earlier this year, while Karen and Ian returned to Marske in June this year (2018).

 Claire will manage the shop in Dundas Market, Ian will look after the wholesale side of the business and Karen will devote more time to the company when her job as a quantity surveyor becomes part-time in September. 

 Dundas Market manager David Harris, who has advised and supported the Rileys, says: “The Celebrity Gift Company is a welcome arrival and adds to the variety of retailers we have here.  They will add to the mix of unusual and different goods on offer in the market.  I’m sure Dundas Market customers will really enjoy seeing what the company has to offer.

 “We are getting many more enquiries from businesses which have started trading online and now want to open a shop, so they can interact with customers face to face.  We still have a few market units available, especially for traders looking to sell toys, music/games/books or fruit and veg.  We are always interested to hear from people with an idea for a new business, or who are looking to open a second outlet for their existing business.

 “For new traders who want to test out a business idea, we also offer a small number of Enterprise Units from £60 per week, which equates to just £10 a day, on short term tenant agreements.”

 Further information on The Celebrity Gift Company is available via its website – or from tel. 07984 516465.

 Further information about units in Dundas Market is available from David Harris on tel. 01642 232552 or by email

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