TILLAMOOK—Take a trip down to the Tillamook Farmers’ Market this summer and you’re sure to meet Andy and Tami Toth, the pair behind Wilson River Pottery.  The Toths make beautiful and functional pottery for the home, all in deep, rich Earth tones that reflect the beauty of our region.

“We’re inspired by the Pacific Northwest, the Wilson River, the ocean and the Columbia Gorge,” says Andy.  “We try to keep our pottery line beautiful and warm.  Sometimes a bright purple or red piece will get in the kiln load for fun.  But most of the time, we try to stay to our motto ‘Reflections of the Pacific Northwest.’”

While Tami does most of the glazing and throws some smaller pieces, she refers to Andy as the “Master Potter” in the family.

Andy’s interest in pottery began as a student at Tillamook High School and led him on to study at the Oregon School of Arts and Crafts.  Although he works full time running his own tile-setting business, pottery is what he loves most.  “I hope to someday to be able to retire and throw pottery well into my old age,” he says.

That may not be a dream for long, as the Toths’ business has seen some nice growth thanks to their willingness to embrace technology.

About a year ago, the Toths discovered Etsy, a site specializing in handmade and vintage goods.  A perfect way to continue selling when the farmers’ market was closed for the season, they opened a virtual store on Etsy. Wilson River Pottery (www.wilsonriverpottery.com) online sells a variety of items for the home, including plates, serving bowls, salad bowls, soup and coffee cups & mugs and the occasional butter and candy dish.  The Toths have sold more than 110 pieces through Etsy, to people from around the country.

Marketing is key when running a virtual store, and Andy and Tami have come to embrace social media.  “We use Facebook.” says Andy. “When we open the kiln after glazing, I take pictures and post on Facebook before I post on Etsy.  I get lots of feedback on what pieces and glaze colors people really like.”

Although not as personal as meeting customers as the farmers’ market, they have found ways to engage people  “We do contests every once in awhile to name a new glaze combination that we’ve come up with, and we give a coffee mug to the person who recommended the name,” they say.

The pair’s shop cat Bob has his own role in the business.  “He’s pretty famous,” Andy says, referring to Bob’s appearance in many of the product photos in their online store.  “He likes to check out each piece of pottery and see if he wants it or if it can be sold.  He recommends them to the customers and people just love him, sometimes, I think customers just LIKE our Facebook page to check in and see how Bob is doing!”

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