Meet the Sloat Garden Center extended family of pottery makers

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Sloat Garden Center staff in Vietnam

Sloat Garden Center is the largest independent pottery importer in the U.S., connecting talented pottery makers and their beautiful pots with independent garden centers throughout North America.

Over his five decades in the garden center business, Sloat owner Dave Straus has traveled to and worked with pottery factories from around the world. Through pottery selection and design, Dave has created close relationships with an extended family of pottery makers who continue to supply our stores today.

“I started importing Bonsai pottery from Japan in 1969, and in the mid-70s I went to Taiwan and purchased hand painted ceramics,” said Dave. “Then I started going to Korea to source small indoor pottery, terracotta, and large outdoor pottery (which Koreans were using to make kimchi). Back then almost every family made their own kimchi (usually on their roofs!) so there were many manufacturers of these “kimchi jars” in Korea. Sloat Garden Center imported and sold them as planters.

“In the late 70’s I began going to Thailand and imported large pots made specifically for outdoors. These were often called Dragon pots and were available mostly in browns and mustard colors — they were very distinctive with a dragon symbol embossed or painted on the sides. In these early days we also imported metal planters and baskets from Hong Kong. 

Malaysian pottery

“On a trip to Australia in the mid 80’s I first saw Malaysian pottery — immediately I wanted to find something similar for our stores. I traveled to Malaysia and interviewed over a dozen pottery makers. One was Hang Sen Aw. Back then there were only a few small factories that exported to Europe and Australia. We became the first company to bring Malaysian pottery into the U.S. Today the company is run by Hang Sen’s daughter Hooi Aw. I remain very close to Hang Sen and consider him a dear friend.

Fiberlight pottery

We discovered Fiberlight after spotting a pot at a local Saigon hotel. We asked where it came from and soon met Fiberlight creator, Tony Trung. Tony runs a very small factory and shares the showroom with his wife (who is in the wedding planning business). The shop is the “local outlet” for his product and showroom. We are Tony’s only United States customer and all of his designs and colors have been made to order for us.”

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