“The fact that we are working craftsmen is a big plus for us as gallery owners. We are doing what we love, and being able to purchase beautiful artwork to fill up the gallery is a dream come true.”
What inspired you to start your business?
Susan and Don Walton: We were previous gallery owners in the 90’s and we are also potters. After the great recession we felt that eventually things would take a turn for the better and we decided to reinvest in a gallery. Working in the art field full time is something that we have done since the early 80’s and we are thrilled to be back as gallery owners.
What’s the first thing someone would notice walking into your store?
Susan Walton: A lovely mix of art and antiques. Our previous gallery was a bit sterile looking compared to the way it is now. While searching for ideas for unique displays that would not cost a fortune we decided to use some of the antiques that we had been collecting here and there. One thing led to another and then we were buying old classic stoves to display pottery on and it all started to come together. The antiques are also great conversation pieces and they keep the customers in the gallery longer. We often hear comments like “My mom had a stove like that” or “I learned to sew on a treadle machine.” The comment that we hear most often is about how they love how we have displayed the pottery.
Describe your merchandise mix:
Susan Walton: Contemporary pottery is our main focus but we also have some traditional pottery along with jewelry, metal, glass and antiques.
Has your customer base evolved and changed the merchandising focus of your store?
Susan Walton: We are selling more pottery, etc. for gifts than anything else. Many of the baby boomers are down sizing and will come in for special items to give.
Do you hold annual events and exhibitions?
Susan Walton: We are members of a local organization called the Seagrove Area Potters Association (SAPA) and we participate in some of their events throughout the year. SAPA is a nonprofit corporation that promotes, publicizes and markets the pottery community in the Seagrove area. SAPA’s Spring Kiln Opening held in April of each year is one of our best-attended events.
Are you engaging your customers in a conversation about the Shop Local/ American Made movement?
Susan Walton: We often tell our customers that we appreciate the fact that they are supporting the arts by investing in handmade items from our area.
Is carrying American made important to you and your customer base?
Susan Walton: Yes. Many customers will ask what is made in North Carolina and we definitely see a demand for locally handmade merchandise.
How do most of your customers find you?
Susan Walton: Seagrove is a tourist destination and well known all over the world for its handmade pottery and that is our biggest draw.
What makes your store stand out from other retailers in your area?
Susan Walton: We have our own distinct line of pottery that we have made since the early 80’s and that is probably the biggest difference between us and the other stores in the area. That is what Seagrove, N.C., is all about. Visiting the large number of potters in the area and seeing how diverse the work is from one shop to the next.
What would you say is your key to longevity?
Susan Walton: The fact that we are working craftsmen is a big plus for us as gallery owners. We are doing what we love, and being able to purchase beautiful artwork to fill up the gallery is a dream come true.