Finnegan Haase takes a moment to give a final nod of approval to the colorful Mr. Robotron bisque figurine he created while his sister Meredith worked on a dragonfly.
“I think it looks like Megatron,” said Finnegan, the 6-year-old son of Casey Haase, who brought her family from Oak Grove to the Wednesday grand opening of the Pottery Palace at 504 S. Main St. in Grain Valley.
“It’s so cool. I didn’t think they’d have boy stuff when my mom brought me here, but I want to come back. They have a rattlesnake I want to paint.”
Owner Heather Reed couldn’t hold back a smile upon hearing young Finnegan’s comments.
“We want families to come, we want moms and we want dads, we want grandmas and grandpas, church groups, birthday parties – we want everyone to come and enjoy our shop,” said Heather, who got the idea for the Pottery Palace 17 years ago when she and her husband Mike lived in Pennsylvania.
“There was a place we visited that was very much like this, and in the back of our minds, we always wanted to open a business like this. Now, the timing is right. Our kids are grown, and now was the right time to do this.
As she talks about her new business, every table in the Pottery Palace is filled with families creating family heirlooms that will likely be gifts at upcoming family celebrations.
“Grandma and Grandpa are going to be getting some cool creations,” said Amanda Jackson, who brought her 4-year-old daughter Mallory to the grand opening. “I found out about this on Facebook and couldn’t wait to come down.
“It’s the perfect place for anyone with children who want to give their grandmas and grandpas personal gifts.”
A rip-roaring first day quelled many of the doubts the Reeds had about their new venture.
“We weren’t sure where to do it,” Heather said, “but when we came to Grain Valley, we found the right spot and the people here are so friendly, they made us feel at home.”
The Reeds rent their 2,500-square foot business from the Bank of Grain Valley, and bank chairman Allen Lefko is their biggest fan.
“Oh my gosh, we’re getting the neatest new business downtown,” said Lefko, who was honored last week by having the new business wing at Grain Valley High School named in his honor. “Heather and Mike are wonderful people, and what they have done with the location is unbelievable. You can’t tell it was the same place.
“I think they’re bringing something new and exciting to Grain Valley. I think once people go in, they’ll want to go back. They have so many neat figurines and things to paint.”
Mike is a handyman who turned an office space with garish yellow walls and purple carpeting – yes, yellow walls and purple carpeting – into a family friendly atmosphere that features neutral colors that are complemented by corrugated metal and brick designs and shelf after shelf of dragons, butterflies, cups, bowls, sports figures, animals and Mr. Robotron.
“I have to put more Mr. Robotrons on the shelves, because we sold out of the ones we had yesterday,” said Heather, as 34 patrons created the type of opening day she and Mike had dreamed about.
“We were hoping for a good opening day but we never dreamed that we’d be that busy on our first day. It was a dream come true.”
One reason for the family atmosphere was the annual spring break for area schools.
“This was the perfect place to take my kids,” Casey Haase said, “because there is something for boys and girls and mom! This will be a great place to come when it’s too cold, or too hot, to do something outside. And it’s so close.
“That’s the most appealing thing to me. I was going over to Overland Park, Kansas, to do ceramics, and now, it’s just a short drive to Grain Valley.”
Pottery Palace bisque pieces range from $4 to $50. The studio fees, which include paint and having your work of art fired, range from $4 to $6.
And you might want to come early if you have a family member who wants to create a Mr. Robotron.
“He’s flying off the shelves,” joked Heather, “but we have a lot more in the back.”
For general information or quotes on private parties, call 816-799-8402.