Pop-up shops a place to potter for Christmas gifts

SANTA'S LITTLE HELPERS: Artisan potters Rick Hatch and Suzanne Forsyth Hatch in their studio, creating pots and wares to be sold in their pop-up shop in the lead up to Christmas. Photo: Supplied
SANTA'S LITTLE HELPERS: Artisan potters Rick Hatch and Suzanne Forsyth Hatch in their studio, creating pots and wares to be sold in their pop-up shop in the lead up to Christmas. Photo: Supplied

APRIL to November is a busy time for potters Rick Hatch and Suzanne Forsyth Hatch.

They create handmade pottery and sculptures for their pop-up shop in the local mall, selling all the wares made throughout the year in the lead-up to Christmas, from November 27 to December 23.

Rick and Suzanne's pop-up shop, Weemala Pottery, is the oldest one of its kind in Armidale, a rural city in northern NSW.

They sell 80 per cent of the goods they create in that month before Christmas.

"Pots are based on the senses, so people like to come in and touch and feel the pots," Rick said.

Pop-up shops are an excellent way to shop for personal, unusual gifts for Christmas.

Malls and high streets struggling to compete with online shopping suddenly brighten as artisans open pop-up shops in the lead-up to Christmas.

For Rick and Suzanne, their pop-up shop is also a way of connecting with their friends and customers.

"Our pop-up shop is part of the fabric of the community around Christmas," Rick said.

"I love connecting with people and customers and getting to know them when they come to peruse and buy the pottery."

Our pop-up shop is part of the fabric of the community around Christmas.

Rick Hatch, Weemala Pottery co-owner

Rick said he found landlords and real estate agents were willing to negotiate to encourage more pop-up shops.

"We pay one month's rent and sell 80 per cent of our stock," he said.

That leaves the rest of the year free for Rick and Suzanne to create new pottery and sculptures from their studio in the surrounding countryside.

Neither Rick nor Suzanne want to sell their pottery online, although they have an Instagram account.

They say their customers need to experience their goods first-hand for an accurate idea of their value and worth.

Suzanne showcases her Dame Edna Everage teapots at every pop-up shop, a design initially commissioned by Barry Humphries in the early 1980s.

Suzanne made a limited edition of the pots, sending three to London, and she has about five remaining.

They sit on a top shelf in the studio, keeping an eye over Suzanne and Rick as they work at the wheel and near the kiln, busy working on creative new strands, as well as customer favourites.

This story Pop-ups a place to potter for presents first appeared on The Canberra Times.