By Lee Egerstrom
Economic Development Fellow
[email protected] A company of artists in St. Paul is proving that making art objects can sustain a small business, that entrepreneurs can survive economic cycles, and that quality can still trump quantity in this age of big box stores and mass marketing. Deneen Pottery is a family owned business that has endured various trials and tribulations since 1972. It makes hand-thrown stoneware products for institutional and business customers who want to exhibit glaze engraved logos, which result from a trademark protected process that Deneen master potters invented. The biggest categories of Deneen's 2,700 customers are hospitality industry companies such as bed and breakfasts, country inns and golf courses. Right behind are college bookstores, corporations that want promotional items for products or their corporate image, and restaurants. Renaissance festivals and community events that appeal to tourists who may be collectors is another important but smaller category, and Deneen has a small number of retailers as customers who specialize in merchandise for tourists.