Art is at the heart of The Gravel Pit in Fairport Harbor.
Reclaimed vintage, industrial and customized furniture artistically transformed fill the trendy shop on High Street and exude a creative vibe supplied by owners Niki Betteley of Fairport Harbor and her mother, Darlene O’Donnell of Montville Township.
“The whole big family was always doing something creative,” O’Donnell said.
She noted that friends and neighbors viewing the results of their talented efforts often encouraged them to launch an establishment where they could showcase and sell the rejuvenated items. Thus, The Gravel Pit was opened in 2014.
The rough name developed from the several gravel mounds along nearby Grand River.
“We didn’t want anything frilly,” O’Donnell said. “We really wanted to speak to the grittiness of the town. “
After closing for a few months earlier this year to complete some renovations, the store is now up and running.
Patrons will find an assortment of one-of- a-kind items like huge industrial wooden spools formerly used to hold electrical wiring and converted into decorative pieces by the mother-daughter duo.
During a recent visit to the shop O’Donnell pointed out a used metal cabinet that she enhanced by adding black walnut wood readying the piece to serve its next purpose.
“We love to get older things and put a spin on them,” O’Donnell said. “I love everything industrial…I like the contrast between old and new. That just has always spoken to my heart.”
Of a similar inclination, Betteley says that she enjoys taking a piece that was designed for functionality and then turning it into art.
Always on the hunt for unusual finds, the pair frequents auctions, estate sales, garage sales and even tree lawns seeking possibilities to salvage.
Betteley noted that because of the many distinctive pieces sold at the shop a big part of their business is constantly changing.
“Almost everything is for sale including some fixtures and display tables,” she said.
Once a single unique item is purchased it’s not long before one more takes its place.
Recently, Heather Rokosky of Painesville Township, another of O’Donnell’s daughters, joined The Gravel Pit by adding a line of clothing from her business, Thread & Nail.
Often seeking unusual items and clothing are visitors to the beach town, some of whom dock their boats at Fairport Harbor as part of port-hopping excursions.
Betteley explained that many will stop by the nearby lighthouses and Coast Guard station then tour the village’s shops.
She added that the Fairport Harbor Tourism Council actively initiates events such as the Chocolate Stroll & Wine Tasting taking place April 20 and the 2018 Fairport Harbor Golf Cart Pub Crawl set for May 5 which serve as big draws for local businesses.
Also on hand at The Gravel Pit for those seeking gifts or accessories are pillows, scented soaps and homemade candles with fragrances wafting delectable smells and named Fresh Coffee, Maple Stir and more. Hand-drawn greeting cards by Ilona Schmid of Thompson Township and jewelry crafted by local artist Suzy Zampini are among other artistic wares for sale.