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When we first moved to the suburbs, I noticed one of those cute paint your own pottery places. And thought – how adorable! A perfect activity for a rainy afternoon.

And then it poured a few days before Rick’s birthday.

So I figured the girls could paint him a pottery tie to wear to work or a pottery iPhone or something.

I call up the place and I’m told it’s $8 per child for a one hour session.

FINALLY. No more overpriced Manhattan kid places. $16 bucks for an hour of entertainment. Totally reasonable.

So we arrive and the girls pick out two coffee mugs (because apparently they don’t actually make ties or iPhones out of clay which I think is a bit shortsighted but whatever) and my girls get to work painting their masterpieces for daddy’s big 4-0.

Now the place isn’t cooking with gas and I start to feel a little sorry for the owner. I mean, $8 bucks an hour can’t possibly pay the rent and there’s practically nobody here.Β  I’ll definitely have to come back. I’ll bring my friends. You know, once I have a few.Β  Note: Find friends to bring to sad pottery place.

17 minutes later, the girls are done.

Apparently, no hour needed to create great art.

So we collect our things and the owner rings us up. I’m about to hand him a $20 when he says…


My mind went numb.

“What?” I ask.


“Wow. Well, that’s a lot of money. For two mugs. How exactly is that the total?”

“Well, it’s the $16 sitting fee for the two kids. Plus $18 for each mug. Plus tax.”

Holy crap, they charge for those mugs?! Those generic, white mugs. I think I can get a set of six mugs from Crate & Barrel for like $24 bucks. No, seriously, I can.

$57.06 for 17 minutes of do-it-yourself pottery?!

In the end, the owner took $8 bucks off my bill.Β  Maybe he was hoping that would wipe the stunned expression off my face.

And those mugs? Not even ready in time for Rick’s birthday. It takes 10 days for them to be glazed or perhaps, coated in 14K gold.

44 Responses to sometimes i’m a jackass in the suburbs

  • Shana says:

    My daughter had a serious self-paint-pottery addiction for a couple of years. Thank God, she got over it. But recently while packing up *treasures* in order to *stage* our house for sale, we had to make some hard decisions about what to keep and toss. The hand-painted cups, plates, mugs, banks, mermaids, puppies and kitties were a very tough call to make. They ended up boxed up, but not tossed… yet. And all told? Probably about $400 worth of *treasure* in one vodka box. So sad.

  • I’m sorry, but on which planet is it perfectly acceptable to inform you of the $8.00 dollar part, but not the $18.00 part?

    So, are you still going to round up some friend to help this sad place out? No? Really?

  • kristen says:

    the place we had in town had placards in front of every piece of unglazed crap so you would know how much you were in for, before you started.

    it went out of business, big surprise, and much to my daughter’s dismay.

    at least rick gets to keep the glazed items, my kid keeps every thing she’s ever made at one of those places for herself. oh, she gave me her broken name plate yesterday. pfft.

  • Cheryl says:

    They’re not places for kids. They’re for a girls night out with wine — you can come away with some fairly cool pieces if you don’t drink TOO much… but it’s still expensive.

    Better to have the kids paint at home on the porch. You can still drink while they do it, but your biggest expense is the wine.

  • Some of our painted wares are total treasures and others have gotten “misplaced” over the years. I dropped a plate yesterday which shattered all over the tile floor. I will try my hardest to fix it. Alexander painted it last year and I love the stuff the kids paint when they are little. It’s a bit of abstract mixed with expressionism… they are truly delightful because they are not really meant to be anything. It’s not until they are older and they “try” to paint and you have no idea what the effinghell you are bringing home… those creations are the ones that get misplaced. As for that plate I broke yesterday, still so sad over it!

    Gift certificates to the pottery places make excellent Birthday presents. Perfect for all ages in case you are ever stuck for an idea!

  • christy says:

    Wowzers that is expensive. Good to know. There’s one of those around here – and we’re doing a wine and cheese night there soon. I think I’ll bring my own everything!

  • TRACI says:

    The next time you think ‘inexpensive entertainment and pottery’ think Pottery Barn Kids story time, otherwise your house will start to look like some creepy old Grandma’s house with crazy looking painted pottery all over the place.

    And? You’ll be broke.

  • Jessica says:

    the same exact thing happened to me but I said, forget it, I’m not buying that and in the end got charged for the paint I used (all four ounces of it) HUGE ripoff!

  • westchestermom says:

    There are only a couple of bargains in Westchester vs. NYC – double coupons in the supermarkets and preschool tuition . I find the prices for classes, everything else is the same as Manhattan.

  • Inna says:

    I can’t believe they didn’t have signs for the price of the items. When he said $8 for an hour, did he just assume your kids would sit there? He didn’t think to inform you of the price of the things they would actually paint? I say you tell all your friends NOT to go there. Its not a good use of 17 min. πŸ™‚

  • anna says:

    if you live near larchmont there is a great place, children’s creative corner, where the kids can be dropped-off, paint, and it really is just the $15 hourly fee no matter what they make. i am new to the ‘burbs too and this is my favorite find so far.

  • Daphne says:

    I was secretly thrilled when the paint your own place near us went away. Not only a quick and expensive day, but the line up of painted dogs and fairies and unicorns is getting out of control.

  • misty says:

    YEP! my mom did pottery up until her stroke, last year. I know the base cost for pouring your own dishes and serveware and I know the difference when she buys them already poured. Those places are marking up at 500%… PLUS the length of time they charge to fire. The two times Gen’s been- her enthusiasm for the final piece was gone before it was ready…

  • Kim says:

    $18.00 + tax is a total rip off for a coffee mug! I would have been stunned myself! IDEA: Since you are a lover of Starbucks, they sell thermo travel coffee tumblers, that you can insert pictures into, for a whole lot cheaper! You could bring scissors, pictures, stickers, and stuff to Starbucks, and let the kids have a field day! Of course all the while you sip a latte, and look for new friends! LOL

  • layla solms says:

    oh, good lord! as soon as i read the first sentence, i knew what was coming! OUCH!
    for that very reason, we have never “painted our own”
    i would gladly come over to your house and help you sew something, or spy on the neighbors, or bake some brownies…
    i don’t like wal-mart, but you can sometimes get little tchochkes (sp?) that are ceramic, white, unpainted, whatever…frogs, bears, tacky they may be, but if you are desperate…

  • Terra says:

    We have a great one by our house -they only charge for the “item” so you can set your own price -they even shelve the items by price…sometimes we go and the girls have to pick from the $2.00 shelf but they can each do 2 or 3 – sometimes we go as high asthe $10 shelf but never more than that…I mean someday it will end up in the garbage anyway!!! OOOP – did I say that?

  • Aunt Marcia (Guess Whose?) says:

    We have free entertainment at the local library for children. Magicians/Story Time and other ‘stuff’. One day I looked into the Kids section and who was in there with her grandchild?….Joan Baez…and only I and the librarian knew. Other women were too young to have ‘known her’. Lots of ‘free/fun’ stuff to do with your children. Dumpster diving, dancing in the summer rains, feeding the ducks/birds, treasure hunt….Thrift Store shopping for gifts…Make believe you’re POOR.

  • Tully's Mama says:

    I feel like you would have put up more of a fight if you still lived in the city. You ol’ suburbian softie. Oh, wait. We’re the same age. I mean, you young, fresh, suburbian softie.

  • Alexandra says:

    The same dang thing happened to me when we first moved to the burbs. Was walking by: see a sign, go on in, and end up walking out $48 later and 40 mins. later.

    Never saw it coming…

    P.S. How come you don’t have friends yet? If I ran into you, I”d totally get on your playdate schedule.

  • So instead of the little pottery place being sad, it sounds like you walked out, a bit sad.

    What a rip off!

    Note to self – “stop looking with pity, at the cute little “Wee Hands Pottery” place on Main st. Remember this post!”

  • Hilarious…I’m right there with you! I took my 2 & 4 year old a couple of weeks ago. Brilliant…the 2 year old painted a $4 frog figurine, but broke a $22 skull & cross bones that had been painted, fired and was awaiting pickup by some poor unsuspecting elementary school boy who probably had to accompany – against his will – his sisters on a paint your own pottery trip!

    So much for an inexpensive morning outing for us πŸ™‚

  • anymommy says:

    I had a very similar experience, except, thank god, I happened to ask about the price of the mugs before my kids starting painting, or broke 12 of them.

    Welcome to the suburbs.

  • ewe_are_here says:

    Wow! What a rip-off.

    We had a paint-your-own pottery place in Hawaii that I went to with friends a couple of times to drink and be sociable. The difference was we knew the prices, but we quickly figured out you could keep washing off your piece of pottery to repaint it differently… instead of continuing to buy and paint different pieces. heh heh

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kelcey kintner