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.
Founded in 1871 and family-owned, Forshaw boasts a long history of pairing customers with high-quality fireplaces in their 22,000-square-foot show room. Slather a fresh layer of cozy atop living rooms or dens with a direct-vent gas-burning fireplace plucked from Forshaw's extensive selection of Heat & Glo and Heatilator models. The top-selling Heatilator Novus 4236 ($1,622) warms toes and heart cockles alike, spouting forth up to 25,000 BTUs per hour from a minimalist façade that leads eyes toward the glowing fire and its elusive magic eye images. Equally at home in a corner or wall, the 41-inch wide fireplace (36-inch wide opening) maintains air quality by shuttling away harmful carbon monoxide and excess moisture. Novus's IntelliFire electronic ignition system helps cut down on gas consumption by lighting a pilot flame only when needed, and supplying a backup battery system for power outages and times when the microwave hogs all the electricity by singing karaoke.
At Pottery Hollow, kids and adults alike find inspiration to create ceramic works of art from a fanciful story about a potter in need of an apprentice to help him and his fairy friends adorn ceramic mugs, platters, and knickknacks with colorful paint. Guests enter the potter's enchanted hollow—complete with twisted tree trunks and brightly colored chairs—to work on the unpainted pieces stored deep beneath the forest. While guests create their masterpieces, staffers keep them supplied with paints and brushes and take finished pieces to be baked in the kiln.
In addition to walk-in sessions, Pottery Hollow's three locations host parties and events such as mommy-and-me sessions, bridal showers, and corporate events. And on Friday nights until 9 p.m., ladies can create beautiful works of art while sipping on their favorite BYOB drinks. Staffers also craft custom pieces in less than a week, which can be given as gifts, kept as future heirlooms, or offered as sacrifices to the home-decor gods.
Sunshine Daydream’s resourceful staff unveils a collection of hard-to-find vintage gifts that stand as tributes to days past with tie-dyed threads, hippie-era band merchandise, candles, and incents. The periwinkle-colored Grateful Dead Blue Bear Mandala tapestry ($26.99) allows buyers to embellish empty walls with Sanskrit-inspired designs or cover up holes kicked in by temperamental Rockettes. Transform stark rented flats into personal temples with wood-and-bamboo door beads ($22.99) that fall in a whimsical arch formation. The shop also pays homage to contemporary pop culture with T-shirts ($19.99-$26.99) declaring love for cult classics such as The Big Lebowski, Dazed and Confused, and The Hangover. Guests can occupy their palms with a variety of hand drums ($24.99) designed for drum-circle frequenters and stock traders that sell via Morse code.