Madre Cacti Co. Brings Southwest Style to Minnesota

Courtesy Madre Cacti Co.

The day after Easter, Erik Hamline is recovering from a busy opening weekend at his new storefront, Madre Cacti Co. Just two days in, he has been nearly wiped out of his floor inventory. Who knew a cactus store in Minnesota would be such a hit?

“It was way crazier than I expected,” he says of the opening weekend. “I didn’t expect to sell so much stock over 48 hours.”

Fortunately for cactus-loving Twin Citians, he has enough backstock to restock the floor for the coming weekend with all manner of cacti, from tiny hedgehogs to sprawling, sculptural Indian figs. Then, he’ll head back south for an impromptu restock. (Hamline had been planning on replenishing every four to five weeks, but the initial rush nearly cleared him out.)

In Minnesota, the idea of a cactus store is a novel concept. That’s because growing cacti in colder climates is cost prohibitive—it would require special greenhouses, several acres, and a lot of heat. “It’s next to impossible to get larger cacti up here unless you drive to warmer climates,” he says.

But in recent years, the once-humble cactus has turned into a bona fide trend. Cactus prints and other home décor items inspired by the plant’s silhouette are currently en vogue—trend-hunting blog, Trend Bible, even proclaimed “Cactus Is the New Pineapple.” You can even find the smaller varieties of cacti at grocery stores like Aldi.

So why the sudden “spike” in popularity? Credit the age of Pinterest and Instagram—cacti photograph well, and have a certain sculptural quality to them. (Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they’re easy to care for.)

“I’m really drawn to the sculptural aspects and the individuality of them,” says Hamline. “The more you start researching these things and figuring out what they’re all about, it’s absolutely insane. They’re like these alien super-creatures with backstories that are so interesting.”

Located in Northeast Minneapolis just blocks from buzzworthy new restaurant Hai Hai, Madre Cacti opened with more than 300 cacti of more than 80 different species that Hamline picked up earlier this month from private growers in southern Arizona. He says he sources cacti from a network of eight to ten different growers in Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. (“They’re really excited that people up here are into this stuff,” he says.)

In addition to cacti, Hamline also carries a collection of handmade, authentic terra-cotta pottery that is crafted from the mineral-rich clays of Mexico, which he has imported directly from a family-owned manufacturer in Mexico. “It’s super hard to find here,” he says. “It has this blush-chardonnay quality and a denseness to it that makes it unique, plus they have impeccable design taste. The forms are nice, simple, classic shapes, and the price points are great.”

While the store carries a handful of Japanese hand planting tools and screen-printed t-shirts, totes, and bandannas—a nod to Hamline’s background as a graphic designer and former owner of flat-stock screen-printing company, Steady Print Shop—Madre Cacti’s focus is, for now, on cacti and pottery. Hamline plans on eventually offering antique home goods, which he plans to find during his buying trips down south. “I’ll be looking for things you don’t normally find here,” he says.

The store generally will be open Fridays through Sundays, with Hamline closing shop when he goes on buying trips. During the week, he’ll be open by appointment, and he plans to focus his time on building the service side of the business, doing rentals and leasing for restaurants and photo shoots.

Prices for cacti range for $14 on the low end “all the way up to the insane showstopper pieces” in the multi-hundred-dollar range. While some of those prices may seem like a lot for a plant, Hamline says “it’s like buying a piece of furniture.” And unlike other plants, it won’t die when you leave town.

Madre Cacti Co. regular hours: Friday & Saturday from 11 a.m.–7 p.m. & Sunday from noon–6 p.m. or by appointment. Open this weekend for regular hours; closed for the following few weeks for a buying trip. @ 2201 NE. 2nd St., Minneapolis, madrecacti.com

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