Gravel Pit: “An emporium of delights!”
To get a good feel for the ever-thriving independent scene in Sheffield these days, all you need to do is take a stroll down Abbeydale Road one weekend. You’ll find a seemingly ever-growing number of locally-owned cafes, bars, restaurants and shops lining the street – an artery of innovation running through S7 and one almost entirely bereft of the usual large chains or anything that could be termed as bland.
With an onus on promoting creativity and unique offerings, it was no surprise that Gravel Pit homeware store set up shop there back in July last year. Moving from their previous location in Kelham Arcade, owner Danny Mager has been able to take advantage of larger premises to accommodate three rooms filled with plants, homeware, artwork, books, records and plenty much more besides.
“Basically, we’re about the holy trinity of things in life – music, art and wellbeing,” Danny told Exposed. “If somebody walks in that isn’t into plants, then maybe they’ll be into music, or artwork, or vice versa. It’s all about creative things and an amalgamation of stuff that has inspired me over the years – a bit like Forum when it started out as hangout place full of people doing a mixture of wicked independent things.”
The Gravel Pit journey started during a break from Danny’s work as a boom op in film and television. The nature of the job could mean six intense months on a set followed by a quiet period until the next project came along, and it was during one of these breaks where boredom took over and he asked his brother to give him a crash course in making terrariums. They quickly began selling in small independent shops across the city, so the next step was concrete pots, which were also a hit, and after his love for horticulture grew, the opportunity to run a retail space in Kelham Island arose.
Today there aren’t many plants Gravel Pit won’t be able to source, while the new space has opened the opportunity to grow their own collection in-store, with a commitment to making rare plants more affordable for all. “With some plants you can be paying like £15 just for a cutting and that’s obviously not realistic for everyone. Now we have a pot room we can source things ourselves, grow them in there, and help to make things a bit more accessible to all.”
Though intriguing plants and homeware helped to make the company’s name, the store today is filled with a wide range of music, film and art-related goods – “an emporium of delights, I like to call it!” – from an enviable vinyl collection sourced in conjunction with Low Profile records to screen prints from local artists to quirky furniture pieces.
Going forward, there are plans to open up the back area with a bit of seating, adding to the friendly, chillout feel inside the store. “The move has been fantastic for us and we’re looking to build on it, constantly adding to our ever-evolving range of curated plants, helping customers to find exactly what they need, sourcing interesting products and promoting the arts scene. That’s what we’re about here.”