we had a store—we don't anymore

The Crafts and Games the Of a Kind Founders Would Stock in Their (Nonexistent) Shop

Photo: Courtesy Retailers

Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur spent nine years running Of a Kind, a beloved e-commerce site known for carrying indie designers you couldn’t find anywhere else on the internet. They closed up shop last fall, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t stopped, well, shopping. With that in mind, we’re asking the entrepreneurs (who still write a newsletter and host a weekly podcast) what they’d stock in a store — if they still had one — department by department.

Let us start by saying that if we were running a small business during this pandemic, we’d be freaking out — about revenue, our employees, packing and shipping e-comm orders (and when to stop doing that?), government stimulus benefits (and the confusing paperwork that tells us whether we even qualify for them), and, of course, the health of everyone we know and those we don’t. We’d try not to let anxiety paralyze us … and we have no idea if we’d be successful at that.

If we managed to take a long inhale followed by an even longer exhale and get our wits momentarily about us, we’d aim to be nimble and to bulk up our inventory with the things people want more of during this time (aside from Rancho Gordo beans) — things that might make all of these cooped-up weeks a bit more palatable, calming, and, well, prettier. If we got it together — and had the cash flow to do so — we’d stock up on some of the best crafts and games from indie companies (fellow small businesses!), the sort of hands-on activities made by real people that would fill a Tuesday night, a Thursday night, and maybe a Sunday afternoon, too, and that would cheer up a space in the process.

Talk about charming: This company is the brainchild of the man who invented Connect 4 and his son. All of their creations come in cute packaging (and without a million little pieces), and they’re priced right to ship to a friend as a little “I’m thinking of you but don’t really want to FaceTime again this week, thanks” treat.

Something we’ve learned in our self-isolation research: There are not nearly as many modern-looking cross-stitch/embroidery/needlepoint projects as there should be. Yes, the pillow kit from the U.K. brand Pompom is pricey, but it’s something we’d be proud to have on our couches after — serving a secondary purpose as a memento of this truly insane experience we’re all living through.

A handful of very cool, design-y puzzle companies have launched over the last few years (looking at you, Piecework and Jiggy!), and, wow, is this their moment. Galison, which has been at it since 1979, was way ahead of the trend, and they really nail it when it comes to depth of assortment and major design collabs (check out this MoMA trio). We’d go big on 1,000-piecers — that’s what everyone seems to be tackling, per the puzzle porn flooding our IGs, and if not now, when?

This isn’t an adult coloring book. It’s an adult workbook — from NYC creative director Shayna Kulik, whose trend-forecasting expertise is in, you guessed it, prints and patterns.

When it feels like we can fix so little, why not fix our jeans at least? Visible mending is bubbling up (see: this recent NYT piece), and we recommend pairing this kit with Make and Mend by Jessica Marquez.

Doesn’t throwing something at the wall sound so satisfying right now? And doesn’t Fredericks & Mae make a dart board look more like a piece of art than it has any right to? Granted, this is probably better suited to people with rec rooms than those of us huddled in NYC apartments …

There’s nothing wrong with the OG Yahtzee aesthetic. There’s also nothing wrong with giving it a slick, monochromatic makeover. The Swedish company Printworks does such a nice job with these glow-ups that we’d happily carry (or own) a range of their games.

So no one is actually traveling these days, but our product description for this watercolor set from the woman-run San Francisco company Case for Making would encourage taking it somewhere — to a backyard, a park (away from others!), or even a front stoop.

Maybe breaking out Upstate founder Kalen Kaminski’s hibiscus-sandalwood dyes is the thing to do with kids during the weekend when you absolutely have to mix things up. Maybe doing so is a way to liven up bedsheets instead of your hair when you get the urge to cut bangs. No matter how you put these to use, you won’t be touching your face, scrolling, or Zooming. Sounds like a win.

With artsy DIYs from the likes of Jaime Hayon, Sarah Sze, and Ai Weiwei, this book might get creative juices flowing and kickstart a lighting project. Or it might live on a coffee table for 13 episodes of Schitt’s Creek. Or both! So full of possibility — and so fun to page through.

Plants! Now more than ever! As we run out of windowsills for them to live on, we have to turn to the ceilings. When it comes to macramé, Emily Katz is queen, and her price-is-right kit is the ideal level of complexity for someone to display it in their home and on Instagram in no time.

We’ll grant you this: It is a weird season to get into knitting. Which is why we’re all about this warm-weather-friendly cotton project. From Loopy Mango out of Beacon, New York, it’s suited to beginners but would also satisfy those with more casting-off experience. To eliminate decision paralysis, we’d stock it in three colors — pearl, ginger, and indigo, perhaps?

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

The Crafts the Of a Kind Founders Would Stock in Their Shop