we had a store—we don't anymore

The Outdoor Gear the Of a Kind Founders Would Stock in Their (Nonexistent) Shop

Photo: retailer

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.

It continues to be a very strange and trying time for all of us … and for retail. The fact that the weather has gotten warmer hasn’t changed much except that people are antsier. If we were still running an e-commerce store, we’d be looking for ways to give everyone that great-outdoors fix, while urging them to stay on their own fire escapes, balconies, and rooftops — or in their own suburban backyards that we are suddenly more jealous of than we thought possible.

When building out a product assortment for the summer — which will assuredly be different than any summer we’ve ever experienced — we’d focus on three things: (1) small makers (nothing new there); (2) a mix of price points, which is harder for indie brands, with their thin margins and more limited production; and (3) color. We’ve been drawn to brights to cheer up these days, and we’d want our site to be an upbeat landing pad for all those Zoomed-out eyeballs.

Photo: retailer

Having paid embarrassingly close attention to the cool-beach-towel market, we can say with confidence that there are many good-looking options out there — and very few at a price point that feels right for something that (God willing) will spend most of its time in the sand. Slowtide, made by three sustainability-focused guys in Hawaii and California, checks all the boxes.

Photo: retailer

This is definitely not Off!, and that’s exactly what makes us want to put it on. The outdoorsy personal-care brand Kinfield worked with independent labs to test the efficacy of this stuff, which smells like lemongrass, clove, and vanilla, and nothing like Skin So Soft.

The problem with stocking these ecofriendly, BBQ-ready bamboo plates is deciding which patterns to choose. The Carwash motif is a solid starting point, as its rainbow bursts mean it pairs well with any backyard tablescape.

Having seen at least four headlines in the last week asking “Is It Time to Prune Yet?” we’re guessing that gardening newbies (seedlings?) are going to be on the hunt for shears any day now. These, from the family-run Modern Sprout out of Chicago, are sweet but not twee.

We’re calling it: The inflatable backyard pool is going to have a big summer. The ones from the fashion stylist Kristin Myllenbeck’s line Mylle are fun without splashing into swan-pool-float territory (too cheeky for this climate). Now who’s going to make us a design-y Slip ‘N Slide?

Does anyone truly need a snake-patterned hose nozzle? Of course not. Do people need things that will make them smile and give lawn chores a bit more allure when there’s, uh, so little to make our days feel shiny and fun right now? You bet.

You’ve seen the herb gardens on the fire escapes and the scallions getting a second life on the windowsills. Edible flowers seem like a natural outgrowth, and this set from the woman-owned line Floral Society is packaged so prettily that you get a visual win before you even plant a single seed.

Photo: retailer

If your only slice of fresh air comes from an open window, the clinking of the ceramic discs on this chime from Lisa and Samantha Jones’s Portland, Oregon–based Pigeon Toe might make you feel like you’re more outside than you really are. A victory, if not a garden.

This cheerful riff on the retro lawn chair is exceptionally lightweight and easy to fold up (and, if you’re short on space, store away). Use it now in your yard (or sliver of outdoor space), then tote it to a park or a beach if and when that’s a responsible thing to do.

Who knew mosquito-thwarting could be so aesthetically appealing? These coils from the Brooklyn-based company Fredericks & Mae would look at home in the Noguchi Museum, and the combo of utility plus price would have us scooping up a hearty supply.

Talk about a showstopper. Made in the Pasadena woodshop of the Wolfum founder Annabel Inganni, this fancy cornhole set is the sort of item that earns a grin even from those who have no intention of buying it. (Though, if now isn’t the time for gussied-up backyard games, when is?)

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Outdoor Gear Of a Kind’s Founders Would Stock in Their Shop