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Destination creativity – Mainly Clay offers creative getaway

Pam Butler was born in Kentucky, but when she came to Virginia for college, she never dreamed that one day she would be the owner of her very own Downtown Farmville business.

Mainly Clay opened June of 2012, and Butler says being involved in the downtown community is fulfilling.

“Farmville has the small-town feel with many larger city advantages,” Butler said. “Longwood, Hampden-Sydney, and High Bridge State Park offer many opportunities. We are seeing more folks coming to town just to see what is here. Some are looking in the windows or stopping in to see what we have to offer. It is fun visiting with all, those considering a move here, potential students with their parents, furniture shoppers taking a break, or those who are just strolling down the street.”

Butler’s background is in elementary education, not pottery, but when her youngest child left for college that all changed.

“I decided to do something different, and I started a pottery wheel class,” she said. “Instantly it became a passion. I bought a wheel and set up a studio at home.”

Although Butler enjoyed her home pottery studio, it became lonely working alone, and so the idea of opening a larger pottery business downtown was born.

“After going to the Longwood Small Business Development Center and talking to many involved in the community, opening a space still seemed like a crazy idea,” Butler said. “It is not the average business plan.”

Butler says she began looking at several rental spaces, but one area became rented just the week before and another the day before her inquiry.

“At this point, my mom asked me what I wanted,” Butler said. “I told her that I wanted to be downtown in the middle of it all.”

One day Butler was having lunch with her mom at The Bakery on Main Street after looking for yet another rental space.

“My mom asked about the building across the street for The Bakery. That building, 217 North Main Street, had burned in 2009.” Butler said.

Although the building had a new roof, it was still in need of many renovations.

Butler purchased the building and began renovations in 2011.

It was a major project resulting in the pottery studio downstairs and the upstairs area from an upscale meeting space.

Today Mainly Clay offers visitors a getaway with a place to make their own unique handmade gifts by taking one of many classes Butler offers or just stopping by to pick out a handmade gift for someone special crafted by one of several local artists.

“During our almost eight years, we have seen that Farmville and area residents need to get away from regular routines and relax for a couple of hours creating something functional out of clay, hence our one-day class,” Butler said. “We offer pottery wheel classes as well as hand-building, along with making smaller, stained-glass pieces.”

Mainly Clay also offers retail space in the front of its shop where pottery lovers can purchase pottery supplies, including tools, glaze and clay, but at the end of the day, Mainly Clay is a destination where people can become creative.

“We offer a space to relax, pick up a unique locally-made gift, or just to be greeted with a friendly smile,” Butler said. “There is something about a creative space that just feels good.”