Sarah Gearhart is the owner of Free Spirit Pottery, where customers can purchase pottery or hand-craft their own creations. Photo by Elizabeth Gross.
Free Spirit Pottery, a small business on downtown main street in Statesboro, made roughly $45,000 in profit from January to October, said owner Sarah Gearhart.
Free Spirit Pottery is a business that sells mosaics, canvases for painting and pre-made pottery. Patrons customize these products in-store with provided materials where they can hand-craft mosaics, paint on canvases and paint pottery that will be glazed and fired in a kiln.
Gearhart said that the average customer spends about $20 at Free Spirit Pottery per-visit. On weekdays, she said the store hosts about three to four people per-day. Weekends are the store’s busiest days, bringing in 30 to 40 customers.
Gearhart said that her biggest money-makers are her canvas paintings and her canvas painting classes that she teaches. She charges $35 dollars per-class, which is the same price that her competition, the Averitt Center, located across the street, charges.
“A lot of my customers don’t know that we do those classes, and that’s what I’m trying to advertise the most, I guess,” Gearhart said. “I price [the classes] based on what the competitors have, so a lot of times with those, I’ll also do specials where we have, like, 20 percent off or something because it doesn’t affect me too much, but in the eye of the consumer, that’s a big deal.”
Gearhart said that she loads about 50 to 60 items in the kiln about two to three times per-week, unless if she is firing big platters. Young children are her most popular clientele, and because of this, pottery figurines are her most popular items. She said that as it gets closer to Christmas, platters and ornaments become the most-popular items.
Gearhart also said that her business earned around $80,000 for the entirety of last year. November and December were her most profitable months.
The most expensive item in the store is a hand-thrown giant pottery bowl made in Italy, which is priced at $150, Gearhart said. The cheapest items for purchase are the pottery magnets priced between $1 and $2.
Celeste Spence, a retiree, is a regular customer at Free Spirit Pottery. She says that she frequents the store twice every week, and spends a lot of time there.
“The longest time I’ve spent there is about four hours,” Spence said. “I get so involved in my painting project, I can’t stop.”
The most money Spence has ever spent at the store at one time was $65 on a Christmas tree figurine.
Customers on average spend about two hours per store visit, Gearhart said. Melanie Anderson, a mother and a regular patron of Free Spirit Pottery, said that she usually spends one to two hours there when she visits with her children once per-month.
Anderson said that she and her children love painting pottery at the store.
“The most I have spent there just to paint pottery was $180, and also my girls go to pottery camp every year which costs a little more than that,” Anderson said. “We love Free Spirit.”