Pottery business brings a bit of Mexico to Chelsea

When customers step into Toluca, Pottery and Things in Chelsea, they’re immediately surrounded by exotic pieces of rustic Mexican pottery, including hand-crafted pots shaped like turtles, lions, suns and moons, among others.

Owner Charles Rich said when he imagined a new business, he knew he wanted to stand out from the crowd of other Shelby County businesses.

“There’s not another (business) in Chelsea like this. We thought we’d give it a shot and see,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of people say, ‘This is exactly what Chelsea needs.’”

Rich came up with the idea about a year ago, when he started thinking about how he’d enjoy traveling to find unique pieces. He spoke with a friend, David Garcia, who is originally from Mexico, and found a willing business partner.

“We traveled over 6,000 miles in two weeks, so we covered a lot of ground,” Rich said. “I fell in love with it when we went down. Just fell in love with the people, the culture and the food.”

Rich said he plans to make another trip at the beginning of 2010 to find merchandise appropriate for the spring. He already has some handmade grills, some whimsically made in the shape of pigs.

“They’re so unique, and I really wanted some. Everybody likes these,” Rich said about the grills. “We’ve sold a couple already.”

The business has been open less than a month, but Rich said local citizens are already giving him ideas about what they want to see in his store.

“It’s been great. There’s a lot of traffic on this road, and a lot of people come by,” he said. “People are giving us input on what they’d like. I’ve been really pleased with our sales so far.”

Rich said his prices are in keeping with what people want to spend right now. He has lots of pieces for $25 or less, although some of the bigger, more intricate pieces can sell for hundreds of dollars.

“I’m hoping that with the prices we have, people will feel good about coming in and spending money,” he said.

Toluca, Pottery and Things is located on Shelby County 47 in Chelsea. For more information, contact Rich at 678-3768.