Posted Jul 3rd, 2019 in Retail Roundup
Pat Holleman first started taking pottery lessons in the 1970s while she was still working full-time as an educator and administrator. Creating art out of clay gave her great pleasure and introduced her to many new friends in the art world.
As her passion grew, so did the number of pieces she created. Soon, she started selling her creations at shows and made connections with other potters. After retirement, what started off as a hobby quickly became a new business venture.
Seven women potters joined together to form a co-op to support each other and sell their pottery collectively. This included finding and renting a location. However, being a co-op meant they could share the rent and each woman only had to work a few days a month in return for a percentage of the profits. And so began, what they fondly refer to as, “the great adventure.”
That was almost 13 years ago. They checked out a number of different locations and decided to rent space in The Cotton Exchange in Downtown Wilmington—the natural brick walls of the building seemed the perfect backdrop for pottery. So, with some personal investment and help from the Small Business Administration (SBA), they opened the store.
The group soon realized they needed something to “soften” the pottery vista so they searched for other artists that specialized in fine crafts to join them. Each artist had to be juried into the business. Following the careful selection of quality artwork, Port City Pottery and Fine Crafts grew.
Shared experiences have always been a benefit and each artist adds a different skill to the mix. Some artists work on their craft while in the store. Others prefer to work in their home studios. Pat is thankful the co-op has such talented artists. They all welcome customers with a smile and let them know, “Everything is handmade and local.”
Inside this bright, clean store, you are surrounded by displays of pottery, textiles, glasswork, carved wood, clay stoneware, pine needle art, tapestry, jewelry, recycled art and mixed media. Each piece is unique and often sells quickly.
Port City Pottery and Fine Crafts has won many awards. Numerous plaques on the wall say, “The Best Gallery in the Cape Fear Region.” Pat describes it as, “A place where the art show never ends.”
The gallery’s serene jazz music blends well with the background chatter and aroma of coffee from Java Dog Coffee House to enhance your shopping experience. It really is a pleasure to shop there any day of the week.
Hours: Mon-Sat, 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Sun, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts
307 N Front St
Wilmington, NC 28401