Campbell Pottery, located in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, is a large production ceramic studio and gallery space that attracts thousands of shoppers every year. Here’s their success story.
Potter Bill Campbell started his collection of thrown work over forty years ago, slowly building a wholesale business which has now expanded to an account base of over 500 stores nationwide. Alongside his wife Jane Campbell who now runs their own retail store and gallery, they have created one of the largest potteries in the country.
Much of Campbell Pottery’s production work uses a stunning blue glaze which Bill developed years ago, and has become a hallmark of their brand. Another extremely popular look is their “Flambeaux” line (shown below) which features glazes with striking and colorful crystalline shapes.
Much of their success has to do with customer service, and keeping accounts that have been buying from their studio for many years and with whom they have developed friendships and profitable relationships. In addition, the Campbells have created an efficient production model that streamlines production and decreases misfirings and “seconds” in the studio.
During a tour of their large facility, Bill explains that they mix a high-quality clay body that works well with their proprietary glazes, and that they are able to achieve a superior finished product in only a single firing – thereby cutting firing times and expenses in half.
Electric kilns are used for firing the crystalline “Flambeaux” line, and a large gas kiln is used for their reduction-fired ware. Sophisticated equipment allows their studio staff to carefully control the firing process for maximum results and minimum mistakes.
What’s Bill’s advice for other potters growing a business? It’s commitment. “You only have to work half-time,” he smiles, “Twelve hours a day.”
In addition to the studio, the Campbells run a large, rambling gallery space which started out as a small store and eventually encompassed a barn next store. Ceramic work from potters around the country are featured, as well as jewelry, sculpture, garden items and many other handmade items for home and gifts.
The popularity of their gallery has led to a following by craft enthusiasts who travel long distances to buy their signature pottery and crafts, and to enjoy the beautiful rolling countryside of their northwest Pennsylvania location.