How do you process a new age that emerges from a time that was defined by what preceded it? What happens post Post-Industrial Design?

    To those who have lived, worked and played in West Footscray for the past decade, Post-Industrial Design and POD Café (podatpid) have become important parts of the landscape and the local community. Over the years they have established themselves a reputation for providing warm, personable service, consistently good food and coffee, as well as a supportive space for local makers and artists.

    I still remember moving to the area in 2013 and stepping into the quirky and bustling space for the first time, thinking, there really is nothing quite like this. Everything from the gorgeous vintage green chairs in the café to the stunning metalwork that weaved its way throughout the space spoke to a care and attention to detail that bled into all aspects of their operations. It has thus been somewhat disconcerting to watch them slowly wind up operations.

    I went in on a Monday morning to meet up with Mary Long, owner and operator of Post Industrial Design. The POD crew were already in the shop packing up. The shelves were bare. We walked down the road to Migrant Coffee to get away from the sounds of hammer and drill. 

    Post Industrial Design

    Over a cuppa, Mary shares with me the story of Post Industrial Design. It had begun as a platform to showcase Jos Van Hulsen’s work, as well as a supportive space for other local artists and designers. The first store that they opened was in Richmond, and it operated between 1995 and 1997. They eventually moved to West Footscray in 1997.

    ‘The real impetus to open here was that we lived close by and we wanted to invest in the community that our kids were growing up in. We wanted to build something for us and by us.’ She relates that when they had first opened, people were ‘gobsmacked’ as they had never seen anything quite like it. Punters at the local pub would tell her that she ‘didn’t understand the area’.

    13 years on, Mary and Jos have proven that they not only understand the area, but they understood its heart and its ambitions. Over the years Mary has found joy in working collaboratively with a revolving door of artists. 

    In 2011, Mary and Jos had the idea to use the display space at the front of the shop to do a playful take on the Myer Christmas window. Jos took the concept and breathed life into it with his amazing metalwork and imagination. The PID Christmas window fast became a WeFo tradition, drawing local families and those from the neighbouring suburbs every holiday season.

    POD Café (podatpid)

    Jess Haire and Fiona Marment came into the picture in 2013. Both had extensive experience working in and running other hospitality establishments in the inner-west. Their skillset was the perfect foil to Mary and Jos’s, resulting in what became a 10-year symbiotic relationship between the two businesses. 

    Fiona’s warmth and care were the heart and soul of POD. You felt it as she made your coffee, and as she asked you about your day. Her laughter filled the space and made it feel like home. I will miss those large brown pots of chai from the old days. Jess ran the engine of the café like a well-oiled machine. He did not have a whole lot in terms of equipment, but he managed to concoct some extremely delicious things. Customers will miss the homemade scones, both sweet and savoury, and THAT chicken sandwich. You know that one I’m talking about. 

    Fifty staff over the years, Jess tells me. In various capacities and for different lengths of time. How do you quantify or measure the impact of a small business?

    An Outpouring

    When the news was broken that both businesses were wrapping up, there was an outpouring from regular customers. Many took to social media to convey their thanks for the many years of service to the community, and some also wrote heart-warming tributes about how much support they have received from both PID and POD.

    But the good news is that WeFo is getting a beautiful florist in the Flower Shed, which will be taking over the site. The even better news is that they are keeping the coffee machine, the Niccolo coffee, as well as long-time fabulous POD staff member, Lisa. 

    Mary, Jos, Jess and Fi are going out on their own terms. And that is something to be extremely proud of in these tough times. They are all moving on to different, but meaningful things. Taking the time to slow down and enjoy the fruits of their hard-earned labour. 

    Your feedback

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here



    Latest Articles

    Latest edition

    #96 May 2024

    Recent editions



    Become a supporter

    The Westsider is run on the power of volunteers. Your contribution directly contributes to ensuring we can continue serving and celebrating our community.

    Related articles