Pod is a petite lifestyle shop in Cambridge, MA. Opened in 1998, Pod has had three different locations, owner Julie Baine preferring small spaces, describing them as her ‘jam’. The current layout occupies 600 square feet divided into two by a sliding barn door. The front serves as the shop, Pod, filled with homewares, clothing, botanicals and found objects. Popular for it’s interesting textiles and ceramics, Pod has become a go-to destination for wedding and housewarming gifts. The rear of the space houses Shop Fog Linen, an online business selling Japanese brand Fog Linen Work products. Julie works with small designers and makers from around the globe, frequently changing the assortment, but staying true to the core items and genre of goods that Pod has become well known for.
As a child, Julie Baine loved to play restaurant and shop owner, and was fascinated by the stores she visited, especially those with luncheon counters. However, the anthropology major never planned to be a shopkeeper until an “ah-ha” moment in her mid 20s when she felt compelled to open her own shop. From an extended family of successful small business owners, Julie has a natural aptitude for running her own business. Inspired by people who see opportunity when no one else does, and those who make something from nothing. Julie is intrigued by physically small shops, no matter what they are selling, inspired when shop owners find creative ways to make the product in their small shops visually interesting and appealing . Julie loves creating concepts at Pod, bringing together the details, not just product, that create a ‘feeling’ and then watching the client engage with the product – in a positive way. Other shops that Julie finds inspiring are Patch NYC and Joanne Rossman in Massachusetts, Bon in Tucson, and A Détacher in New York, and Starnet in Japan.
On the Future of Retail
“I think small shops will never go away. They’re neighborhood staples and as much as a consumer wants to engage with the internet, small shops will still be valid and necessary touchstones / go-to in a neighborhood environment. The burden on the small shop, the brick and mortar specialty shop, though, is their participation with the internet. They absolutely need to have an e-commerce aspect, but the challenge is for the shopkeeper to entice clients into their very ‘real’ environment without giving it all away in their ‘virtual’ one. A really good shop should always provide an element of surprise. And then that brings us to social media—It’s imperative for a small shop to participate in some form, but it will have to be the one that is most authentic for the voice of the shop—and that’s not always an easy task.”
36 Sacramento Street, Cambridge MA
Photos: Dallas Raleigh & Julie Baine