Business

Moss reroots houseplants business to new location in Czech Village

Anne Armitage and Alan Peterka are putting down roots in a historic building in Czech Village — the new location for their houseplant store, Moss.

The boutique features houseplants, succulents, cacti and airplants, plus at least seven lines of handcrafted stylish planters, artisan stationery and a selection of decor for the modern home and office, as well as gift items.

“We have been wanting to this for a long time,” said Armitage, noting that they wanted to be in a larger space and offer more retail-friendly hours. “We feel particularly good about this project because we want to be part of the revitalization of Cedar Rapids.”

Armitage and Peterka first opened Moss in NewBo City Market in 2012. While they started considering relocating to a larger space in Cedar Rapids, an opportunity to open in downtown Iowa City came along in 2016.

With the new space, Armitage said they also now will be able to host more programs and workshops for all levels of plant enthusiasts.

“Hopefully shoppers discover a space they’d want to linger in,” she said, pointing out the sofa.

Armitage also created a large moss wall installation as a statement piece in the space.

“We wanted to create a relaxing vibe. This new space is more conducive to having a Zen shopping experience,” Armitage said.

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The new store opened last week with a bright and roomy 1,755-square-foot space, fully renovated over the past six months but maintaining the character of the 100-year-old building.

“I feel a connection to the history of this space,” Armitage said. “I especially love that it started out as a hardware store as my great-grandfather was a hardware store owner in South Dakota.”

Shoppers will see Armitage working behind the counter — which Peterka designed and built — about 50 percent of the time. She spends the rest of her workweek behind the scenes handling the ordering, planning and projecting for future seasons.

“I’m ultimately responsible for both our stores and so when things crop up I do whatever is needed,” Armitage added. “The to-do list never goes away and you have to hustle all the time.”

But Armitage is especially enjoying seeing the reactions of customers as they come into the new store.

“They experience joy and they tell us that. This is a different type of retail because we see people connecting here and I love that.”

Deciding to focus on the niche of selling houseplants — not outdoor plants — has been a rewarding experience, Armitage said.

“I became a plant person later in life. My mom was one, but I fought it for a while,” she recalled.

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“Back in about 2000, I discovered succulents and I went crazy collecting nearly 50 of them. I loved being an outdoor gardener, but as my schedule got crazy I really came to appreciate coming home to my houseplants.

“I just love plants as part of interior decor.”

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At a glance

• Owner: Anne Armitage

• Title: Owner

• Company: Moss

• Address: 74 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids

• Website: mossymoss.com

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