Ian McMillan at the All Good Stuff launch, photo by  Humbledinger

South Yorkshire poet Ian McMillan celebrates All Good Stuff – A Review

I never have to worry about buying a gift for friends and family again.

Last Thursday saw the launch of All Good Stuff, a new shop and gallery located at the grade II listed, Butcher Works in Sheffield. The community interest company (CIC) aims to promote and sell the work of independent artists from the local area. After preliminary drinks next door at Fusion Cafe, Barnsley born wordsmith, Ian McMillan, was on hand to give a nostalgic and witty speech celebrating South Yorkshire’s long tradition of makers.

Ian McMillan cuts the ribbon for the official launch of All Good Stuff gallery shop

With a harmonic “Nah then!” from the crowd and the ribbon cut by Ian, it was time to see what All Good Stuff had to offer.

Up the stairs, All Good Stuff may be small, but it is a concentration of beauty and high quality craftsmanship without being overpriced. Rings, bracelets and necklaces from Faerie Filigree and Nanfran Jewellery offer Celtic style with a delicate twist. Prints by Jill Ray Landscapes show Stanage in a way I haven’t seen before. Nathalie Bond Organics has an assortment of lotions and potions making the shop smell gorgeous. MJT Artwork’s range of printed cards and mugs included a selection celebrating the recent Grand Depart and other icons from around South Yorkshire. This is only a small sample of the 40 plus members already filling the space from floor to ceiling with locally produced loveliness.

Mugs by MJT Artwork, photo by Humbledinger

Mugs by MJT Artwork, photo by Humbledinger

And it’s not just the items for sale that make this a pretty haven.

Before the launch I caught up with director and artist, Anne Phipps, who gave me a very warm insight into the ethos which makes their stuff ‘all good’.

Promoting local independents

All Good Stuff is the brainchild of directors Anne Phipps, Sharon Walker and Andrew Pollard.

Artists themselves, they realise how difficult and disheartening it can be to go it alone and wanted to come up with a way to work collectively. After six months of putting their heads together they had a plan to open up a shop and gallery space. With the help of Sheffield Enterprise Agency and Voluntary Action Sheffield they were able to put their plans into action and on 5th November 2013 All Good Stuff was registered as a non-profit Community Interest Company. Anne explains more:

We set up All Good Stuff to promote and sell the work of local artists and artisans from Sheffield and South Yorkshire and the fringes of South Yorkshire.

Its not just people living and working in those areas, we also include people who have got strong links to the areas and we’d perhaps include people that love the Peak District and whose work is related to the Peak District or anything to do with South Yorkshire

All Good Stuff at the Butcher Works, photo by Humbledinger

All Good Stuff at the Butcher Works, photo by Humbledinger

All Good Stuff rents a small unit at Butcher Works, a former cutlery and tool factory. In order to fund the space they rent out small or larger amounts of space within the shop gallery to other artists. Anne explains how it works:

We’re renting small or larger amounts of space depending on what people want to pay per month and charging a small commission on sales. The rents and the commissions are there to pay for the rent that we pay as a company to Freeman College, and they will be there to pay for any other rents that we might take on in the future

Exciting plans for the future

Anne explained that as All Good Stuff becomes more established, they hope to expand into other areas. This includes opening up space for workshops, a presence at Art in the Park and a shop nearer the centre, which would be able to cater for a more diverse range of artists and designers.

Ian McMillan at All Good Stuff, photo by Humbledinger

Ian McMillan at All Good Stuff, photo by Humbledinger

They also hope to create employment, apprenticeship and work experience opportunities. At present there is a small team of members helping to run the shop, but Anne is adamant she wants to pay them back for the hard work they put in. She said they are doing as much as they can to recognise the contribution of others; for example reducing commission on sales and paying expenses such as display rental.

Although the company is still in its infancy, you can feel the good vibes flowing as everyone pitches in.

It is going much better than we thought it would do originally. We thought that we might struggle for the first four – six months and then start to get an even keel in the run up to Christmas, but people have been wonderful.

They have been so supportive and every time they come in they are stunned by what they see. They say they think its lovely and they can’t resist buying something. Its all been quite a whirlwind.

All Good Stuff Bunting at the Launch on Thursday, photo by Humbledinger

All Good Stuff Bunting at the Launch on Thursday, photo by Humbledinger

Although things are getting off to a fantastic start it would be great to see the members list grow. A drawback I found was a lack of products for men and children. I hope the community gets behind this project and that we get to see the expansion and diversity All Good Stuff have set in their sights.

(Maybe in time for Christmas, please. I have a big family!)

Look out for our exclusive video interview with Ian McMillan all about his views on the independent scene in Sheffield coming soon!