P.E.I. community helps potter recreate business after serious fire
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STRATFORD, P.E.I. — For Robert McMillan, his pottery studio and enterprise had been his life.
So, when he stood and watched this previous October as every part he owned went up in flames – robbing him of greater than $150,000 value of kit, stock, provides, clay and the enterprise he thought of to be “a really shut and pricey buddy” – it was nearly an excessive amount of to course of.
“To place in bluntly, you don’t know what you’ve till you lose it,” McMillan instructed SaltWire Community in an interview on Jan. 10.
However now, the proprietor of Robert McMillan Pottery Studio and Gallery, is shifting past his shock and disappointment and beginning to put the items again collectively.
Figuring out of a small, make-shift studio he has arrange in his residence and with the assistance of many individuals, he’s decided to recreate the enterprise he holds so pricey.
The fireplace broke out on Oct. 17, within the 18,000-square-foot constructing on the Mason Highway the place McMillan’s enterprise was positioned. The opposite main tenant was the P.E.I. Attain Basis. A number of fireplace departments responded, however the constructing was gutted.
McMillan had opened the studio three years in the past.
“I used to be simply on the point of take the subsequent step and begin increasing and creating the subsequent stage of my marketing strategy, which was to go greater,’’ he mentioned in an interview with SaltWire Community at his residence on Jan. 10. “I had began offering pottery for different potters.’’
The losses from the fireplace had been greater than the bodily area.
McMillan might now not maintain his pottery courses, so he needed to reimburse the individuals who had already signed as much as examine with him.
He needed to cancel his plans to attend Christmas exhibits, the place he would have bought his creations.
And he needed to cancel orders that he had sitting able to go within the studio, mentioned McMillan.
Prepared to assist
Though McMillan didn’t have insurance coverage, individuals have been responding with donations of supplies, tools and area to assist him get again in enterprise.
The newest present of help got here in a fundraiser on Jan. 7 that featured a few dozen Prince Edward Island performers.
McMillan’s studio wasn’t only for potters. It was additionally a gathering area, particularly for Island musicians who typically placed on exhibits there.
Todd MacLean, a P.E.I. entertainer, and Matt Clendinning, the proprietor of The Fortunate Bean cafes in Montague and Stratford, put the fundraiser collectively.
“I by no means performed within the area, however I went into the area numerous instances, significantly as a result of Savannah took (pottery) classes there … and was a paying member of the area,’’ MacLean mentioned, referring to his spouse, Savannah Belsher-MacLean.
MacLean mentioned he actually bonded with McMillan after internet hosting a Fb Instagram speak present about two years in the past through which the pair talked about pottery and music. McMillan additionally sings and performs the guitar.
McMillan then began attending each considered one of MacLean’s exhibits, billed as Todd MacLean and Pals, at The Fortunate Bean.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to make the reference to Robert,’’ MacLean mentioned. “When this fireplace occurred, I knew one thing needed to be executed for him so far as a fundraiser goes.’’
Clendinning provided The Fortunate Bean in Stratford as a venue to host the fundraiser, however then he and MacLean knew they’d want a much bigger venue when the variety of artists who had been coming to carry out grew.
The City of Stratford stepped in and provided the occasions area on the Cross Roads Fireplace Division at no cost.
Greater than $2,600 was raised from that night time, which included a silent public sale.
“I really feel so grateful to all of the musicians that had been a part of it,’’ MacLean mentioned. “They made the night time.’’
McMillan mentioned the occasion touched him in methods he didn’t suppose doable.
“It was simply unbelievable,’’ McMillan mentioned. “The love, the enjoyment, the connection, the help, the camaraderie, all of it lifted my coronary heart and my spirit. You don’t know who your actual mates are till you might be at your lowest. I misplaced every part, they usually got here out. I noticed what sort of mates I actually do have.’’
McMillan has additionally acquired assist from the group.
A GoFundMe web page, which was arrange proper after the fireplace, has raised greater than $28,000.
McMillan mentioned the cash helps to purchase new provides.
He’s additionally actively trying to find area to open a brand new studio.
At a look
Following is assist Stratford potter Robert McMillan has acquired since a hearth destroyed his enterprise in October:
• His provider, Tuckers Pottery Inc. in Toronto, gave him a brand new kiln, which is valued at $8,000.
• Princess Auto in Charlottetown gave him a brand new compressor, which is valued at $800.
• Village Pottery in New London donated area to host workshops.
• A fundraiser on Jan. 7 in Stratford pulled in $2,600.
• GoFundMe campaign has raised greater than $28,000 to this point.
Dave Stewart is a reporter with SaltWire Community in Prince Edward Island. He will be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @DveStewart