Art Terrarium: A permanent pop up

What started as a pop up art and plant shop in the Des Moines skywalks became a permanent retail space that opened earlier this year.

Andrea Metzler had moved back to Des Moines and would walk through the skywalk system in downtown Des Moines all the time.

“It was just pretty sad in there and kind of empty,” Metzler says. “So I just had the idea to fill it up.”

During art week in 2016 Metzler opened a pop up shop filled with art and plants. Because it went over really well, she was wanting to do it again.

Then a space opened up at 106 11th St. in downtown Des Moines and what was a pop up shop became Art Terrarium.

“When we did the pop up, we were in this retail space that was in one of the skywalks and it was glass all the way around,” Metzler explains. “So when we filled it with plants it was like an art terrarium, so we just kind of stuck with it and couldn’t come up with a better name.

“We decided to make it a real full-time job.”

Art Terrarium opened on May 30, 2017.

The inside of Art Terrarium, a new art and plant shop in downtown Des Moines.

Where did the idea come from?

She saw shops similar to Art Terrarium in Portland and Chicago and wanted to bring the concept to Des Moines.

“Every time I walked into one of those shops, I just thought ‘ahhh, this is amazing,'” Metzler says laughing. “So I wanted to recreate that experience here in Des Moines.”

Art Terrarium specializes in easy to care for house plants for apartments or offices that don’t get a lot of sunlight. It also offers handmade pottery and a potting bar, where customers can bring their own pots and get fresh soil, or use supplies at Art Terrarium to make their own.

Prices can range from $20-$40 dollars for plants and as high as $150.

“We’ve had people bring in planters and pots that they have at home so they could refresh it or just put a new plant in,” Metzler says. “Instead of buying a big bag of soil and dealing with that mess, you can use our soil and we just do a small soil charge depending on the size of the pot.”

Art Terrarium
Art Terrarium offers customers art work from local artists along with easy to care for plants.

How does art fit into Art Terrarium?

Art Terrarium combines art and plants, a combination Metzler says can turn a house into a home.

“They compliment each other really well,” Metzler says. “When I move into a new place and want to make it my own, the first thing I do is hang art and fill it with plants.”

Art prices are set by the artists, Metzler says, but range from $20-$40 for print pieces and $100-$200 for larger works of art.

Marketing efforts coming soon

Metzler understood that starting her own business wasn’t going to be easy and with her lack of retail experience, she had a big learning curve.

“The biggest thing was learning all the processes that go into retail,” she says.

To help market Art Terrarium, Metzler said they’ve offered healthy house plant workshops, partnered with different neighborhood groups and utilize social media.

“Instagram is the biggest marketing tool so far,” Metzler says. “Most of the people who come in here say they have been following us on Instagram and wanted to come check it out.”

She said the postal service offers a direct mail program to target area codes and send them information.

“We are targeting those who live downtown because there really isn’t another plant shop downtown,” Metzler says. “And we are working on our website to do more e-commerce and local delivery. So hopefully we have that up in a month or two so you can order and we can deliver it as a gift or drop it off at your apartment.”