It may seem a bit strange for an industrial engineer to change careers and become a specialty gift shop owner, but for Latitudes and Longitudes new owner Meredith Podob, its just part of a career that has continued to evolve.
Podob is used to change because of her diverse employment background, which includes designing graphics, after-market automotive parts, vehicle radiators, and medical devices.
Taking over the gift shop will give Podob an opportunity to utilize her skills in interior design. She plans on renovating the the building that houses her store and giving the jewelry and gift shop a new look and feel.
When the 31-year-old said she always had a desire to rehabilitate a property so when she saw the “for sale” sign in the window of 4235 Main, she didn’t hesitate. Podob already had a personal connection with the store. She’d worked for the previous owner who operated it for 29 years. She helped run the store, doing everything from working with the customers to arranging the displays. The only thing she didn’t do was purchase the merchandise.
After talking with the previous owner, Podob began to think of the possibility of owning her own store. She literally had dreams about what the store would look like, but was her parents encouragement that convinced her that she was ready to take on owning a store.
“Just having my parents have faith in me and telling me I am going to do great and succeed really was the best thing that I could have ever heard,” said Podob who began as her first day as the official store owner on June 1.
“I like to be hands on and I wanted to be able to put my stamp on this saying I did this not so and so did it,” said Podob. “In this store, I saw potential, it just needed a makeover and I am still doing it.”
Some of those changes include painting the walls a shade of blue-green, reviving the hardwood floors, and revamping the way the jewelry is displayed to make it more accessible and customer-friendly.
Besides the cards that it is know for and jewelry, the boutique-style store carries journals, small home goods and women’s accessories and clothing and books for children. In the future, Podob may carry items for men.
Eventually, the small business owner hopes to design jewelry to sell at the store. She has already designed several of the jewelry holders made out of picture frames and radiator parts.
Podob defines a successful person as someone who is not afraid to pursue their dreams. She already feels successful because she is doing what she loves to do while making meaningful connections along the way. For her, it’s not about the money. For now she just wants a little extra money left over once all the bills are paid.
In the next five years, Podob hopes to transform her store into a trendy “one stop shop” that people automatically think about when they need a gift.
This weekend, the store will have its official grand opening during the Manayunk Arts Festival. Various artists will display their work in the store and the community is invited to come in to see the art work and rediscover the store.