In the summer of 2018, Billy took a cross-continental road trip through Canada to the Pacific Ocean and back through the Northern United States while Pat stayed back in Buffalo to hold down the fort. Along the way, Billy visited countless locations that sparked inspiration for Daddy’s Plants. This post is about one of those places.
PAT: What was one of your highlights of your time in Minneapolis?
BILLY: Madre Cacti is a shop in Minneapolis with a focus on some of the heftiest, curious cactus varieties I’ve ever seen in one place… outside of the desert. It was incredible. This shop was one I was really excited to visit while driving through the many different provinces and states I visited, especially due to the location/climate. When I saw a cactus shop pop up in Minnesota, I knew that desert plants had found their way into a market colder than Buffalo. This place had “inspirational” written all over it.
P: So, what was your visit like?
B: While it was a transformative experience traveling for a month without the worries of an itinerary, this was one place I wish I had timed out better. I ended up in Minneapolis on one of the days that Madre Cacti was closed, which meant I had to be really creepy and ogle from outside. Thankfully it was a warm August day, the exterior of the shop was gorgeously on-brand and the windows revealed mostly everything you’d experience inside. And what was inside? Straight up dusty desert vibes and some of the largest, curated cacti for sale.
I should preface this by saying that I visited Madre Cacti right before they announced a bigger and even better space that is opening in the near future. If the original location says anything about the new one, it will definitely bring all of the desert vibes you could ask for in the middle of those chilly winter months. The exterior of this corner building was a stunning matte black, just plopped down in a cute residential area. The branding of Madre Cacti is infused in every inch of their aesthetic. It’s rustic, a bit edgy, it’s earthy and yet a bit tough. I guess it’s a lot like describing a cactus. The hardwood floors and walls seemed almost untouched with exposed lath, almost like peaking into a boarded up general store on the side of a highway in New Mexico. On the other hand, the tall and twisting cacti were all neatly potted in terra cotta, topped with an attractive layer of gravel and sand. It all worked together to create a true feel of the desert in the Midwest.
P: Bummer that it was closed when you arrived! Did you get to chat with anyone?
B: I spoke briefly with owner Erik Hamline on Instagram after the visit, but learned more about his interesting journey in an interview with Dschwen. I was drawn to his story, especially since he came from a similar design background as me and pivoted to follow a passion that utilized his past career experience. In the interview, he mentioned a “head-slap moment” in starting the business that I really related with. At some point, you have to look at all of the skills you’ve honed over your career(s) and make a move that is both risky and logical. And now look, he’s already expanding into a bigger space and moving forward with his retail concept.
P: What a great inspiration!
B: It’s the story and process that inspired me most. Did I mention that the owner documents parts of his cactus haul, while driving from Minneapolis to the desert and back? What a wonderful way to share your experience with local customers and plant aficionados across the globe! That really stuck out to me while enjoying my own time on the road driving cross country.
Perhaps being on the road provides the necessary time to assess how to run a small business. Shifting your past job experience to help build a unique retail brand can be daunting, but your abilities are already learned. Use those skills to elevate and structure what you’re doing, and also to give yourself confidence, because the rest is going to be learned through new experiences. Those new experiences are where you’re going to challenge yourself, but challenging yourself helps you learn what works for you. I know my time driving around to New York State nurseries has already got my brain churning. Perhaps I’ll make New Mexico the next stop!
Visit Madre Cacti.