Pottery's growth launched Williamsburg's outlet reputation

Before the mega-outlets and before Merchants Square, there was the Williamsburg Pottery Factory. Begun in 1938 as a roadside stand on a curve in the road of Route 60, the Pottery has grown into a 1,000-acre shopping bonanza, drawing more than two million visitors a year.

Bargain-hunters can stay right at the 500-site campground next door, or get some exercise at the new batting cage and driving range opening this fall.

Scott Hawkins is president and grandson of the Pottery's founder, Jimmy Maloney, who at age 90 retains his seat on the company's board of directors. Maloney turned the art of salt-glaze pottery, which he learned as an 18-year-old working at Jamestown Colony Pottery, into an empire.

His entrepreneurial spirit led him to a rich vein of clay along the James River where he bought a half-acre for $150, built a kiln and moved his family in. While you can still see the world-renowned gray and blue pottery crafted by hand, the business has expanded to offer housewares, gardenware and gifts, from all things kitschy to Oneida silver.

There are currently about 30 outlet stores, with plans for another dozen by the end of next year, Hawkins said.

The Williamsburg Pottery is located on Route 60 in Lightfoot, five miles west of Williamsburg (757-564-3326,