Yoke takes pride of place on the corner of Dundas Road and Beaufort Street in Inglewood. When driving past, you’ve probably spotted their super cool deckchairs stretched out on the pavement, or perhaps you’ve keenly window-shopped while waiting for a takeaway coffee at Finlay & Sons across the road. If you haven’t stepped foot inside yet, we’d like to introduce to you your new favourite gift shop.
After 18 years as a chef, then 15 years as a archaeologist, Stu Rapley opened Yoke in July of this year, filling the store with things he likes to have in his home. “Design has always appealed to me,” he enthuses, and with things winding down in his previous industry, the timing seemed right to start a new challenge.
It also seemed like a good time to slow down. Of course, Stu is the first to admit that running your own business takes mountains of hard work, but the pace is slower than he had experienced in other phases of his life. “When I was 24 I was the Head Chef at Coco’s. The adrenalin buzz was awesome – but you don’t need that as you get older,” he admits.
Choosing Inglewood as a location was an easy decision. Stu noticed that the high rents of Mt Lawley had forced small businesses further up the street, and opening a shop in Inglewood “offered the opportunity to be a part of something that is new and growing,” he explains. He mentions some of his neighbours: Finlay & Sons; Mori Japanese restaurant; La Luna; Panini 854 and The Stripey Horse Children’s Concept Store, all carving out their own niche in the area. The Inglewood Night Markets are also adding great local flavour. And while these shiny new businesses make Inglewood a great destination, “it still retains a level of grunginess, which I like,” says Stu.
Stu’s concept was to create a store that men would be happy to go shopping in. “Many shops are quite feminine,” he observes. “And that’s fine, I can see why it works, but I wanted to create a store that both men and women feel comfortable coming into and shopping in.” This doesn’t mean that Yoke is just targeted to men, but Stu points to his earthy, timber-heavy fit out and the fact that 40-50% of his stock are products aimed at the fellas.
Currently, Yoke’s shelves are filled with a mix of gifts, homewares and accessories with a uniqueness that is a breath of fresh air. Highlights include the luscious Danish skincare range Meraki, toiletry bags from leather designers Elk, and a major seller in the store – lamps from Aussie label Telegram. Don’t miss the artworks by Cartography Collective who prints iconic images onto pages of vintage songbooks.
Stu has enjoyed learning the history of the building which, amongst an array of other businesses, was part of an outdoor cinema back in the 1930s. But his favourite part of being a shop owner so far has been meeting the locals. “I have had so many locals come in to talk, and tell me stories about the place. The response has been amazing,” he says.
Yoke is found at 919 Beaufort Street and opens 12-8:30pm Monday, 10am-6pm Tuesday to Friday and 10am-4pm Saturday and Sunday. You can keep an eye on their Facebook page here and follow their neat Instagram feed over here.