Tribe Carlisle to launch at Bitts Park


What is the project?

The Hive at Tribe Carlisle is a brand-new space for young people in Carlisle to test out their business ideas to the public. There is no charge for using the space, as it has been funded by Cumbria County Council.


Why are we doing it?

We believe in social entrepreneurship, but we are conscious that a lot of young people in Carlisle won’t have the finances, confidence or opportunities to have a go at running their own business and realise their potential. The Hive addresses these issues by guaranteeing that local young people with a business idea can test their concept to the general public at our busy site down at Bitts Park. We hope to inspire future business owners and leaders in the city, especially those who wouldn’t otherwise have such an opportunity.

We want to remove barriers, by creating a place people can trade alongside each other. We believe that people buy from people, and if the product is good, the price is right and service comes with a smile, that it doesn’t matter where you’re from – you can make it in business. To this end there will be no overt marketing that highlights the people trading at The Hive – to the public it is a pop up shop staffed by young people.


Who is it for?

The Hive is for anybody between the ages of 18 – 23 from Carlisle or surrounding areas who has a business idea they’d like to test.

Our primary demographic is people within this age range who wouldn’t typically have the opportunity, confidence or support to set up their own business, but show entrepreneurial potential. In particular, we are looking for young people at risk of entering the criminal justice system, long term unemployed and NEETs, people with low self-confidence or lacking aspiration, and anybody excluded due to their race, religion, sexuality, (dis)ability or gender (or any other protected characteristic).

We will also be promoting this opportunity to any young person in the area, including university students, those between jobs, or those with commitments which restrict their ability to hold down ‘9-5’ jobs – i.e., carers



The project is now open to applications, and we are ready to welcome our first traders from 1st June. This pilot will run throughout the summer, and in September / October we will evaluate its success, reflect on its failures, and apply for funding for its continuation

The Tribe experience

  • The Space
    • The Hive is a small retail space located at Tribe Carlisle in Bitts Park. It accommodates up to 3 micro businesses at any time.
    • The Hive is open 9am – 9pm 7 days a week.
    • You can trade for a maximum of 7 days, Monday – Sunday at a time
    • A point of sale machine will be provided to allow you to take card payments, but you are welcome to bring your own card reader if you have one.
  • Suitable businesses
    • You can launch pretty much any business at The Hive, and we would typically expect to see retail (selling products), arts (sales and/or exhibits), or workshops (you show people how to do things and allow them to try).
    • The only things we cannot accommodate at The Hive are food preparation, and anything that is illegal or requires a license to sell.
      • For example, you could sell food products you’ve made elsewhere (providing you have the necessary food hygiene documentation)
      • For example, you could not sell knives, weapons, alcohol, tobacco etc.
    • If in doubt, drop us a line ( and we’ll advise on whether it’s permitted.
  • Cost
    • There is no cost to hire the space.
    • The rental and running costs for this project have been funded by Cumbria County Council.
  • Charter
    • All applicants will need to sign up to our Tenants Charter which sets out how tenants at Tribe will conduct themselves to ensure Tribe Carlisle is safe, inclusive and enjoyable for all staff and visitors.
  • Start-up loan
    • A discretionary interest-free loan of up to £200 is available to help you get started. This is repayable from your gross profits, and should eliminate the risk and initial financial outlay.
      • Gross profit is the total amount of money left over once you’ve paid for your overheads. As no rents are payable for The Hive, gross profits are calculated as the money left over once you’ve paid for your stock.
      • For example, if you buy a pair of trainers for £20 and sell them for £50, your gross profit is £30.
      • As an example, if you used your £200 to buy 10 pairs of trainers, and sold them for £500, your profit is £300. £200 is repayable and you keep the £100 left over.
      • The trick therefore is to buy as cheap as possible, and sell for as high as possible.
      • If you do not make any gross profit, the loan will not be repayable.
    • The loan is discretionary, and will only be available to people who are referred by one of our approved partners, and only where evidence of need can be endorsed by that partner.
    • The loan will not be credit checked or recorded with any credit reference agencies if not repaid.
    • The loan will be administered by Tribe Bars Ltd as part of their social impact contribution to Carlisle.

One of the world’s richest men, Jeff Bezos, starting selling books from his garage, which grew into Amazon. Phil Knight borrowed a few hundred dollars from his Dad to import a few pairs of trainers from Japan before founding Nike. Here are a few ideas that we think could work well at Tribe Carlisle:

  1. Candles and Wax Melts – ever popular amongst all demographics
  2. Music – interactive space that allows people to listen to and purchase music – try before you buy. Could include decks for DJs.
  3. House plants – beautifully aesthetic, very instagrammable, multiple health and wellbeing benefits
  4. Vintage Clothing – on trend, sustainable and ethical.
  5. Outdoors – bushcraft skills, ultralight equipment, trail running gear
  6. Dogs – Tribe is really dog friendly, could you provide a little boutique so people can pamper their pooches?

Apply Now...

Please fill out the form below to apply for your space at Tribe Carlisle.

A start up community interest company has won the contract to operate Carlisle City Council’s new cultural and creative courtyard in Bitts Park.

Tribe Carlisle CIC won the competitive tender and is now recruiting independent local businesses to occupy the site.

Cllr Stephen Higgs, Portfolio holder for Culture, Heritage and Leisure, said: 

“The temporary Bitts Park courtyard will be based close to the car park. It will be populated by local businesses and will provide additional amenities for the benefit of park users.

“It will be constructed from six upcycled containers and will house up to 13 small independent businesses, with a diverse mixture of tenants that includes food and drink, retail and arts. Tenants will be either start-ups, looking to grow or well-established in the local area, which will ensure a collaborative, diverse and progressive working environment.

“We have successfully secured £150,000 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to support the design and creation of the site. The money comes from accelerated funding in relation to Carlisle’s overall Towns Fund application.

“The project is part of our overall plans to support the local economy post-Covid. These plans include short, medium and long term initiatives funded through the various government schemes.”

Tribe Director, Joe Gardham, said:

We are inviting expressions of interest now from anybody in Carlisle who has a small business and needs a stepping stone to their own space, or anyone sat on an idea without the opportunity to make it reality.

“It costs over £50,000 to set up your first shop in the city by the time you’ve paid your rent, business rates, utilities and fit out. Add in stock and staff, and this is beyond the reach of a lot of budding entrepreneurs. Our model is to subsidise these overheads through our innovative build model, making a space at Tribe affordable and accessible.

“Once you’re sustainable and viable, our ambition is to see you graduate to the city centre and start bringing some of those empty shop fronts back to life. We’re the launchpad for this. The space to experiment. To make mistakes without losing your livelihood.

“Tribe is the perfect place for weekend street market traders, sous chefs dreaming of their own kitchen, online sellers, kitchen table entrepreneurs and everything in between. There’s no such thing as a bad idea!”

As part of the operating model, all tenants will be required to reinvest back into local disadvantaged communities. This could be donating a share of profits, sharing time and expertise, or creating job opportunities. There are also no shareholders, so all profits are reinvested into the site and Bitts Park area, with an independent advisory group formed to support decision making and distribution.

Joe added:

“I have fallen in love with Carlisle, having spent the last four years seeking, designing and delivering a new space for the city’s residents. Carlisle has an underbelly of grassroots creativity; this scheme at Bitts Park is the perfect space for the city’s creatives to express themselves.

“Also, in line with my own values, I believe we can demonstrate ‘profit with purpose’ throughout this project, and show how small, local, independent businesses can really reinvest in their community, whilst still making a decent living. From my many conversations and meetings in Carlisle over the years, I know that many residents in the city want and need this.”

The site is nearing completion and will open this summer once all traders have been recruited. There will be a selection of open days this month to view the spaces.

To express an interest, you can complete a quick form at

For further information, partnership and supply chain opportunities, please contact


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