If you’ve been to the Cargo District in downtown Wilmington, you probably noticed an eye-catching shop called The Plant Outpost. Owner Sarah Mertz started her plant business as a pop-up shop to now a booming store front and community favorite.
When did The Plant Outpost open? Tell us a little history about the shop:
Sarah Mertz: The Plant Outpost started as a curated plant pop-up under the name “Mother Plants Co.” I didn’t have long term plans at this point, I was just having fun doing something I loved on top of my full-time job. When Covid started I lost my job and childcare for my daughter so I switched from pop-ups to free local plant delivery. I never expected it to take off the way that it did, but I was making over 30 deliveries on the weekends with my daughter! One of my friends was joining the Cargo District as it was getting started and I randomly said “how cool would a shipping container plant shop be?!” again not really thinking much would come of it but ended up looking at a few spaces for fun. The biggest issue was light so I suggested having a container but with all glass windows if that was possible and a few weeks later they found the most perfect container. So I decided to take a leap of faith and sign a lease to a 20ft shipping container.
Sarah Mertz: I knew nothing about owning a business or what the future held, I just knew I would regret the opportunity if I passed it up. From there I rebranded to “The Plant Outpost.” Designing the space inside of the 20 ft. shipping container was so tough but so rewarding. I was always having to readjust and make the tiny space work for the volume of plants that were being sold. I knew I needed more space, I just didn’t want to leave the Cargo District because of the community that was created there. After 10 months in the container I landed my new store front right across the street! We opened the doors there in March and have almost 4x the space I had before. I am so thankful for the growth!
What’s your background?
Sarah Mertz: I grew up mostly in Florida but my step-dad is in the military so I ended up moving around a bit, but landed here in Wilmington. I have the coolest five year old daughter who you probably see running around the shop or helping at the counter. I never imagined myself as an entrepreneur or business owner so it feels kind of wild to be here. I always worked in administration and human resource rolls or when I got lucky to land a marketing position as a creative outlet, but didn’t think my love for houseplants would carry over into something I genuinely love doing every day. I have had to teach myself a lot and reach out to other business owners to learn the ropes.
Any unique facts most people wouldn’t know about the store or what makes you all standout?
Sarah Mertz: I think the most special thing about The Plant Outpost is the community that has formed around myself and the shop since opening. I have made so many genuinely good connections and met some of my now best friends. I love the support that we all give each other. I like to think that my shop is a safe space for people to come in and be themselves. I want everyone to feel welcomed, seen, appreciated, and valued.
When visiting The Plant Outpost make sure you check out:
Sarah Mertz: All of the rad businesses in the area! The Cargo District is really growing and it’s a lot of fun to just roam around.
Some items and plants you’ll find at the store:
Sarah Mertz: The store is full of houseplants. Ranging from low-light, cacti, rare plants, so a little something for everyone. We also carry a selection of curated goods. You’ll find local pottery, candles, plant care, soil, stickers and more.