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Craig shows he’s got animal magic

CREATURE COMFORTS ... The Reptile Hotels Craig Thornton, who is nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year.

CREATURE COMFORTS ... The Reptile Hotels Craig Thornton, who is nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year.

A YOUNG South Tyneside businessman has turned his love of animals into a career.

Craig Thornton opened his own pet shop, The Reptile Hotel, in Fallow Road, South Shields, five years ago, and now has two stores in the region.

The 20-year-old has had so much success with his business that he’s been nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year in the Pride of South Tyneside Awards.

He was put forward for the accolade, sponsored by Shields-based JML Group, by his mum, Carol.

She said: “Since leaving school, he has worked so hard to achieve what he has done. He now runs two reptile shops, has a website, and is still only 20 years old.

“He puts a lot into it, and does reptile shows for kids and puts on open days, all for free to say a big thank-you to his customers.

“He employs two apprentices and has given a young man with disabilities the chance to work in one of the shops for a year.

“He has also rescued a lot of animals, and helps his customers all the time.”

Craig, who also has a shop in Birtley, Gateshead, said: “I’ve always had a passion for animals, and by the time I left school, I had quite a big collection of reptiles.

“In the shops I’ve got things like iguanas, bearded dragons, snakes, chameleons, and even a pair of marmoset monkeys.

“My main aim is always to give great customer service and for everyone to have a good experience when they come into the shop.

“I hold a free open day every year as well, so people can come in to meet the animals, hold them and play some games too.”

As well as his two shops, Craig has also launched a website, thereptilehotel.com, where people from all over the world can shop.

Craig, who also trains and competes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, added: “I opened my second shop in 2012, and that’s quickly become a success, and now it’s all about continuing forward and progressing with the business.

“I do feel like I’ve achieved a lot with my business. There are times when it’s a burden, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’m really pleased that my mam’s put me forward for the award, and winning would be great recognition for all the hard work.”

Craig is hosting a free open day on Sunday, from 11am to 3pm.

People can take part in Easter games and an Easter egg hunt, as well as meet and hold some of the animals and have their picture taken with them.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki

 

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