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Red Wing Pottery finds a buyer in the nick of time

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Red Wing Pottery, which had been on the brink of closing, will be bought by the new owners of Red Wing Stoneware Co., according to the Pioneer Press. The deal is expected to close Friday.

"We're very excited that we have found a great family to take on the next chapter in Red Wing Pottery's long history," owner Scott Gillmer said Thursday. The buyers, Bruce and Irene Johnson, bought Red Wing Stoneware Co. in November.

Red Wing Stoneware Co. and Red Wing Pottery have an intertwined history and, apparently, future.

According to its website, Red Wing Stoneware began making "useful and beautiful wares" with two large wood and coal-fired kilns and four potters' wheels in 1878. Power for the plant came from a 24 horsepower steam engine. Production continued from 1936 until 1967, under the name Red Wing Potteries. In 1984, manufacturing resumed as Red Wing Stoneware Company. Today, the company produces kitchenware along with decorative and specialty goods.

Red Wing Pottery is a third-generation family business that is known mostly for its showroom. In modern times, Red Wing Pottery did not mass manufacture pottery, ceding that business to companies like Fiesta and Noritake (and Red Wing Stoneware.) But the cost of keeping up the cavernous showroom soared, and the business couldn't compete with big box retailers. BringMeTheNews reported in November that Scott Gillmer said he had to sell or close. He said he was optimistic about finding a buyer.

Enter the Johnsons, who bought Red Wing Stoneware in November.

"Given the challenges this company faces, I think this is the best thing that could have happened to it," Gillmer said of Red Wing Pottery.

"We plan to have a close relationship with the Gillmers," Bruce Johnson said. "We will be leaning on them for advice and help getting us on our feet."

Red Wing Pottery pieces are popular with collectors and helps to attract crowds of tourist to the Mississippi River city.

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