Philadelphia Inquirer
March 24, 2006

Eclectic Selections

"Off the beaten shopping track but well worth a visit is Sweet Pea, a beautifully appointed fine-gifts and homefurnishings shop that opened in September on Grays Ferry Avenue. Proprietor Shelby Fraser and her husband reclaimed a shell of a building to house her event-decorating and florist business (Sweet Pea Flowers), then decided to branch out into the sunny storefront with a retail space aimed at bridal-registry customers and shoppers looking for unusual home-related gift items.

"We've tried to bring in things that are unique and nice, and to choose things so that all the different lines will work together,” Fraser says of her eclectic selection, which includes Italian leather photo albums, silk and velvet pillows by Philadelphia fabric designer Kevin O'Brien, and silver-plated flatware from the French cutlery company Alain Saint- Joanis.

Fraser also carries classically shaped brass candlesticks with an ebonized surface that gives them a contemporary feel ($100-$150 a pair) and toleware metal candelabra ($120) that look as if they're made from old stone. She has some of the best-looking dried topiary we've ever seen, including tree forms ($45), a dramatic obelisk shape ($130), and a fabulous table runner made from stitched-together Lamb's Ear leaves ($230) that somehow retained their soft furry feel.

Sweet Pea is also a major repository of the glass and ceramic tableware made by Czech firm Juliska. Ceramic dinnerware with a contemporary feel, in white, robin's egg blue, or spring green, runs $35 for a dinner plate and $55 for a charger. The company's mouth-blown glass pieces - decorated with beads and ridges of glass, in clear, pale green, or smoke (a pinkish gray) - include pitchers ($72-$110), a compote bowl ($98), and vases ($48-$172).

All the furniture Fraser uses as display pieces is for sale as well, including accent tables and a dark wood oval dining table with a French scroll base ($1,500) from the company Design Workshop."