Begun in 1985 as a strictly volunteer-based project of the St. Louis Mennonite Fellowship, Plowsharing Crafts grew over the years into a thriving nonprofit with two locations and an expansive inventory of eclectic wares from around the globe. The staff is committed to selling fair-trade art and handcrafts in order to provide much needed income and nurture the businesses of artisans, 70% of whom are women, from more than 45 developing countries around the world. The selection of items ranges from housewares to jewelry and beyond, many of which are made with sustainable and recycled materials or from food grown with sustainable methods.
Ahner's Garden and Gifts shelters more than 100 different varieties of tropical houseplants in a Dutch-made retail greenhouse. After passing through the greenhouse's gravel detectors and emptying their pockets of stones, blossom boosters can shop for horticultural accents in climate-controlled comfort all year round. Floral fans especially fawn over Ahner's nearly 25 different types of orchids. Premium orchids in 6 in. pots start at $29.50 and can be found in such exotic varietals as the Wilsonara and the Brassia, known as the "spider orchid" because of its double life as an orchid and photographer for The Daily Bugle. If your planters are currently being used to store your collection of precious antique cobwebs, Ahner's botany builders will happily fill them with custom flower arrangements. Prices are based on planter type and size.
The Tile Shop—as the name coyly suggests—specializes in tile for every imaginable surface and aesthetic style, making it easy for DIY handypeople to tackle small home projects, such as modernizing an avocado-green and penicillin-pink bathroom floor or re-grouting a small garden grotto. Underscore a kitchen with the appetizing orange of pirita siena ceramic tiles ($2.19 per square foot), then trim the counters in lizett beige ($3.99 each) for a complementary finish. Pick up a honeycomb pattern of hex matte black ($5.29 per square foot)—the quintessential backsplash for a gothy bumblebee—or add a touch of character to a small surface with a deep green verde butterfly mosaic ($11.99 per square foot). With its enormous selection of floor tiles, wall tiles, mosaics, and natural stone, the possibilities are as endless as a drive across Nebraska. The Tile Shop also has a plentiful selection of grout and tools for grouting it all together while grinning groutishly.
It’s hard to miss Artmart: Pollock-esque splatters of paint cover its bright-red exterior. Inside, its just as striking. Artists of all disciplines draw from the art superstore’s wealth of supplies and skills to further their next projects. Thousands of colors of paints, pencils, and sculpting materials are in stock here, as well as brushes, easels, canvas and a vast paper selection.
As a locally owned creative marketplace, Artmart has a number of divisions in its store depending on your artistic needs: you can immortalize your pieces and prints at the Framing Center, or stock up on colorful cards, stationery, and decorative paper at the paper boutique. Children as young as three can sign up for the store’s small-group classes, which cover various media including painting, sketching, and sculpting skills. You can be inspired at their Studio which boasts a host of events from fine art adult classes to craft workshops to creative birthday parties.
Off Arsenal Gallery's precision framers preserve diplomas, sports memorabilia, and prints with custom frames, acid-free backing boards, and UV protection to prevent keepsakes from fading. Off Arsenal's veteran framer stocks myriad style offerings to conquer odd jobs and hard-to-frame knickknacks. The shop's sociable, image-focused atmosphere allows customers to feel at ease making special requests for add-ons such as elegant design accents or a custom-fitted wiper blade to protect Employee of the Month headshots.