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The Prick Store – finding success as region’s first

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Claire Whitehouse is obsessed with cacti, so much so she’s opened the Hunter’s first shopfront filled with the spiky succulents. 

And, despite the fact she’s never formerly studied the plant, there’s not much she doesn’t know about them, all 2,000 varieties of them. 

From its Raymond Terrace address, Claire’s business stocks gifts, clothing, jewellery, tea towels, plants, pots, posters, pens and pyjamas all embellished with a cactus or two. 

And, if that wasn’t quirky enough, the store has a cheeky name too – The Prick Store. 

Claire is finding she’s not alone in her love of cacti

From its bold orange logo to its Mexican-inspired artworks, its glittery earrings, woven keyrings, cartoon gift cards and cactus-shaped mirrors – this store promises a feast for the eyes. 

“I just wanted it to be a fun place to work and shop,” she says. 

“Cacti are just so fascinating. There are so many different types and they’re all so different.” 

It’s a passion that began when the Lemon Tree Passage mother first moved to the Hunter region five years ago. 

Leaving behind the cooler climate of Katoomba, Claire longed for a sea change before finding herself buying a property on the outskirts of Port Stephens. 

It was here she decided to buy her first house plant to celebrate the relocation. 

Cactus can be found on an array of products at The Prick Store

She’d left behind a successful real estate career that spanned 20 years and she was longing for a fresh start. 

“That’s when I bought my first cactus. I had no idea what to choose, I just thought I didn’t want a plant that was too needy because I’d never cared for one before,” she said. 

What followed has become a fixation that is evident when you first meet the small business owner. 

“How they grow is fascinating,” she shares. 

“It can take a cactus in the desert 100 years to grow one arm. You know all cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti. It’s because they store water inside, they’re so resilient. They don’t need much attention ….”  

There are more than 2,000 varieties of cacti

The facts and figures roll off her tongue when she’s describing her newfound passion. 

And, after years of transporting her special friends to and from the Homegrown Markets, she’s thrilled to have a place to showcase their uniqueness. 

Now at home in a laneway off William Street, Claire happily advocates shares her enthusiasm for the desert dwellers. 

And, her enthusiasm is infectious. 

“I don’t want to be a standard plant shop,” she said.

“I like it to be a little bit inappropriate and make people laugh, it’s just a bit of fun. Even people who don’t like cactus like the fun element when they come in the door.” 

Like any parent however, Claire refuses to play favourites, preferring to find unique beauty within each species. 

And, while she allowed the prickly plant to embellish everything in her world there’s one task yet to complete. 

“I am toying with the idea of getting a cactus tattoo. I booked it months ago, but my tattooist got sick, and I had to cancel,” she added. 

“I must get that sorted actually.” 

Claire Whitehouse says cacti are fascinating plants.

Claire’s top cactus tips:

  • Cactus = Singular. Cacti = Plural.
  • All Cacti are Succulents, but not all Succulents are Cacti.
  • Cacti can grow up to 300 years old!
  • Some types of Cactus can survive up to two years without ANY water!
  • Instead of leaves, Cacti have spines – these spines grow from the areoles on the surface of the Cactus.
  • Cactus fruits are consumed (to this day) and are regularly used for medicine, building materials, and even Agave is used to make Tequila!
  • Cactus produce flowers when they mature (some take up to 30 years to mature!) and insects, birds and bats help pollinate them.
  • Saguaro Cactus (think desert in Mexico) can grow up to 40ft tall, and it can take them up to 75 years to grow their very first arm, and over 100 years to begin growing several arms.
  • Cacti prefer terracotta pots – Terracotta pots are porous and easily allow water and air to flow around the soil.  Plastic pots retain more moisture and are more likely to cause root rot. So, if you keep your Cacti in their plastic pots, make sure you water them less regularly and ensure the soil doesn’t get too wet.

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