The Pottery Place marks 40 years of international influence
When Sandy Flynn first opened The Pottery Place on Dorchester Street in Ocean City, Md., in 1972, she had no way to know that the business would take off in the manner that it did. An extensive – and loyal – customer base developed a great appreciation for the shop’s eclectic mix of home and garden accents and accessories over the years.
Now, four decades later, her daughter, Kymberlee Flynn, is keeping the tradition and success going, as The Pottery Place continues as one of the most popular destinations at the Delaware beaches for locals and visitors alike.
“I learned everything through my mother,” admitted Kymberlee Flynn, who, along with her husband, Jeff Laros, took over the store in 2000, after her mother passed away. “She got it all rolling. We kept a lot of the same connections and brokers that she put into place. It’s great to continue something so wonderful.”
By 1976, The Pottery Place had moved to the Fenwick Island location where it stands today, along Coastal Highway in Sunshine Plaza, but the wide range of merchandise whose origins span the world over is still as fresh and original as it was back in the day.
From planters, jugs, vases, statues, garden ornaments and birdbaths to hand-painted gifts, mirrors, lamp posts, clocks, baskets and candles, The Pottery Place offers something for every room in the house.
“As I like to say,” said Flynn, “you’ve got your sofa, and we have everything else. You can decorate an entire condo or a house with all the accessories we offer. Our pottery is obviously one of our main sellers, but customers love walking around and looking at everything else, too.” And there’s plenty to look at. A 1,000-foot wall features original housewares, while a good portion of the items on the floor have come in from around the globe. During the off-season, Flynn and her husband reestablish connections with vendors and brokers at trade shows from New York City to Atlanta, Ga.
Then, several times a year, tractor-trailers will deliver 40-foot containers packed to the brim with artistic pieces and unusual decor from all around. Goods shipped in from Guadalajara, Mexico, China, Vietnam and Malaysia, where most of the pottery comes from, help ensure that no two visits for shoppers at The Pottery Place are exactly the same.
As the deflated real estate market begins to stand back on its feet again, Flynn has noticed more and more eyes around the store, too.
“Everything has been starting to pick back up for us,” she said. “Houses are selling and condos are filling up again, and that’s when our sales do best.”
Among the biggest sellers in the store, though, are the greeting cards.
“People love stopping in and looking through all the cards,” said Flynn. “We’re one of the most popular places to stop by if you’re looking for a card for any occasion.”
With winter past, outdoor patios and decks can instantly become a home’s go-to spot for a variety of events with one of The Pottery Place’s chimineas. For more of that decorative cultural ambiance, the Mexican and Haitian suns can brighten up a home, inside or outside, and the talavera tile house numbers are flying off the shelves almost as quickly as they get them in.
With such a wide range of merchandise to peruse, shoppers will often spend more time in the store than expected, and Flynn’s even found a way to make each visit even more enjoyable.
Shortly after taking the reins, Kymberlee Flynn’s brother, Van DuZee, and his wife, Kimberleigh, approached Kymberlee about bringing in a coffee shop to the store.
“We’re all coffee heads,” admitted Kymberlee Flynn, “and 12 years ago, there was nothing like it. Fenwick Island is one of the last few one-mile family towns around, and we wanted to bring a spot for visitors to enjoy a coffee and a muffin in the morning.”
After earning approval from the Fenwick Island town council, Van DuZee and his wife wasted no time, helping to add the granite bar build-out and tile-work for Perks, an in-store coffee shop that offers an assortment of coffee-inspired drinks, as well as biscotti, bagels, muffins and more.
“Over the years,” Kymberlee Flynn said, “we’ve made some incredible friends, especially with the locals, and since adding Perks to the store, people will often extend their stay while they’re walking around with a coffee or a latte. Instead of 10 to 15 minutes, they’re walking around for 45 minutes to an hour.”
In an effort to reach a wider range of customers, The Pottery Place has also opened a Rehoboth location, now entering its third summer. Located at 20712 Coastal Highway in Rehoboth, the northern store offers more of a boutique feel but still boasts a bevy of international accessories for around the home.
“There are so many off-the-wall items,” said Flynn. “We like to mix the old pieces in with the new. It makes things interesting and different, but there is always something for everybody. The locations are only 20 minutes apart, and a number of our customers make a habit to stop at each one.”
Juggling the two locations, amid organizing deliveries, trade shows and numerous events throughout the year can sometimes get overwhelming, but luckily, noted Flynn, she’s got her husband to help out.
“Jeff really does a great job running the show,” she said. “I handle the merchandising, but he really brings it all together. Without him, I wouldn’t get through the day. Being partners in a business as husband as wife can be challenging sometimes, but it really is a blessing.” The two also share delivery orders that are made, from Lewes to Salisbury.
What makes The Pottery Place what it is, though, said Flynn, is the customers.
“I am so grateful for the clients we have,” she noted. “They’ve helped our business keep going. I remember working in the store with my mother when I was 16 – kids used to come in with their parents. Now, they’re older, and they’re bringing their own families in. It’s been a great legacy in the area.”
To celebrate their 40-year milestone, The Pottery Place’s Fenwick location will host a carnival on Columbus Day weekend, with gift cards and giveaways. Later this season, Flynn plans to launch a new Web site, complete with online sale capabilities.
For more information about The Pottery Place and Perks, visit their Fenwick Island location in Sunshine Plaza or call (302) 539-3603. The Rehoboth store is located at 20717 Coastal Highway and can be reached by dialing (302) 227-1660. Even more information, including exclusive deals on new merchandise, is located online at www.potteryplaceperks.com and “Like” Pottery Place and Perks Café on Facebook.