The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 12, 2014

Wally Kennedy: Pottery-related business all fired up

JOPLIN, Mo. — Firehouse Pottery Joplin has opened in a storefront at 112 S. Main St. The storefront is north of JBs Downtown Joplin.

This is the second pottery-related business to open on Main Street. The other is Phoenix Fired Art at 1603 S. Main.

Firehouse Pottery is a paint-your-own-pottery studio, the first franchise of Firehouse Pottery in Springfield. The owner is Charity Hawkins. She had worked for Dr. Dan Haney, the dentist, until he decided to retire after the tornado. It was then that Hawkins decided to do something different. She was staying home with her daughters and was browsing Facebook when she saw information about Firehouse Pottery in Springfield. She was intrigued.

“You do all of the painting, and you let us do the glazing and firing,” she said. “You leave it with us, and we’ll put a clear glaze over it so that it comes out shiny. You can wash it over and over again. The paint should never come off.”

The shop has two kilns for firing. The turnaround time can be a couple of days, depending on the workload.

In addition to a complete set of dishes and other choices, the shop has a selection of Christmas ornaments that can be personalized as gifts for the holidays. If that is something you would like to do, it would be better to do it now than, let’s say, 10 days before Christmas.   

“You’ll need to come in earlier than you think because it will take a while at that time of year,” she said.

Something else they do is baby footprints.

The shop will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. It’s closed on Mondays. Details: 417-553-0671 or visit firehousepotteryjoplin.com.

Hawkins chose a downtown location because of the emphasis on art during Third Thursday. The shop, open for Third Thursday last month, saw considerable foot traffic.

Hawkins’ shop could see even more foot traffic if the new Joplin City Council, which will be seated Monday night, can agree on how to move forward on the SPARK project for the area near First and Main. The goal of that is to create a center for arts and recreation in the north part of downtown Joplin.

The idea was sidetracked by the tornado, and understandably so. It’s time to put this idea back on the rails.

NOT ENOUGH ROOFTOPS

At least six grocery stores have looked at Joplin in recent months but have passed on the opportunity to set up shop.

The problem is the perception that there are not enough rooftops yet in the tornado zone. It’s a fairly straightforward business decision in terms of due diligence. The consumers need to be there first. I’m getting this information from someone who is in the know about these things.

If that is true, and I think it is, each and every home and apartment building that is constructed in the zone moves us closer to the point where one of those grocery stores will say, “It looks like there are enough rooftops now.”

The gamble for the grocery stores that are playing this wait-and-see game is the risk of being shut out if they hold their cards too long. If one announces, it’s doubtful that another grocery store will come to town until there are even more rooftops.

But it should be noted that the lack of rooftops has not prevented Wal-Mart from building a neighborhood grocery store at St. Louis Avenue and East Seventh Street. Wal-Mart, which has supercenters with grocery stores on the west and east sides of Joplin and a Sam’s on the south side, is strengthening its presence in the middle. That dominance is likely to continue in other parts of Joplin. That’s another factor that must be weighed by these grocery stores that are looking at Joplin. Who wants to compete in a grocery market that is increasingly dominated by Wal-Mart?

The new Wal-Mart grocery store could signal the beginning of a trend in Joplin for more compact grocery stores. The Harp’s store in the village of Airport Drive is an example of that. What we could be witnessing is the evolution of a new approach to the grocery business in Joplin in which stores specialize and fill certain niches.

It will be interesting to see how the opening of this neighborhood Wal-Mart on May 1 will affect the other grocery stores in Joplin. It will probably have a short-term impact, but I suspect Aldi’s, Save-A-Lot, Food 4 Less and Price Cutter will hold their ground and that consumers will benefit from more competition in the market.

That’s why it’s important for another grocery store to come to Joplin. The competition will benefit us all.

IF YOU HAVE NEWS about something that’s happening on Range Line Road or Main Street, call 417-623-3480, ext. 7250; or send an email to wkennedy@joplinglobe.com; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 417-623-8598.

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