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Stoneware, pottery merge

Former Red Wing Pottery CEO and co-owner Scott Gillmer stands with new owners Bruce and Irene Johnson in the Pottery Salesroom Friday. (Republican Eagle photo by John Russett)

For the first time in more than 50 years, two iconic Red Wing brands will be united.

New Red Wing Stoneware Co. owners Bruce and Irene Johnson closed on the purchase of Red Wing Pottery Friday afternoon, bringing the two companies under single ownership for the first time since Red Wing Potteries closed its large factory in 1967 and changed the name to Red Wing Pottery.

The Johnsons said they are excited ro carry on the tradition of both companies.

Red Wing Pottery is “so historic to the town, to the area,” Irene Johnson said. “People know the name so well. To carry that on is just amazing.”

‘Peace of mind’

Scott Gillmer, Red Wing Pottery CEO and co-owner, said he is excited for the two brands to come back together.

“It gives me peace of mind to know the brand and this great, old business has a future,” he said.

Gillmer said he felt a sense of responsibility to the company and the city of Red Wing since his family members have been the stewards of the brand for 50 to 60 years and he is pleased to be passing the business to another family.

Irene Johnson said she liked the tradition the Gillmers had with Red Wing Pottery and now, with both companies uniting, she would like to carry on the tradition with their own family business.

The Johnsons closed Nov. 1 on the purchase of Red Wing Stoneware Co., the day before Gillmer announced his intentions to sell Red Wing Pottery. Gillmer’s announcement that he would close by Dec. 31 if a buyer could not be found caused a minor media flurry.

Bruce Johnson said both the stoneware and the salt-glaze brands are unique and he plans on keeping the brands separate, but he would like to recreate some of the old environment of when they were both under one company.

“I want people to feel the environment and feel the culture,” he said.

The Johnsons plan on taking a few months to redesign and renovate parts of the salesroom and hope to have a reopening in the spring.

The warehouse, which recently held a coffee shop and bicycle store, is not part of the sale. The Red Wing City Council held a special meeting Dec. 20 to subdivide the property into two parcels.

Bruce Johnson said the majority of the old salesroom space will be dedicated to the Stoneware and Pottery products. He and his wife won’t be able to continue selling many of the gift shop items, he added.

Bruce Johnson said he would also like to incorporate a classroom where people could throw their own pots and maybe have some community education classes.

It’s a whole new challenge, Irene Johnson said, but it’s going to be fun

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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