New owner of Hadley Pottery puts his money where his heart is

Brook Smith, a Louisville investor and philanthropist, purchased the company that was started by Mary Alice Hadley in 1940.
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 6:14 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - This was shaping up to be a sad season for customers of Hadley Pottery as the iconic Louisville company was due to close its doors.

On Wednesday, a line formed outside the Story Avenue factory in Butchertown before business hours, as dedicated fans anticipated the beloved business was about to close for good.

They were wrong.

Brook Smith, a Louisville investor and philanthropist, purchased the company that was started by Mary Alice Hadley in 1940.

“The way I felt today and just seeing the people here, on the staff, that’s priceless,” Smith said Wednesday as customers emptied store shelves. “You know, it sounds kind of corny, but the reality is, it is.”

Smith, a Louisville native, described how his fondness for Hadley Pottery began in childhood.

“My mother bringing me in here when I was a young kid, and the floor shaking and the smell of clear in the air,” Smith said, “I didn’t know where I was. I was at the Willy Wonka pottery or something.”

And now Smith has become Hadley’s golden ticket.

Weeks away from fading into history, the Hadley Pottery has found new life, much to the relief of loyal customers.

Smith is planning to renovate the 1850s-era building and replace aging equipment.

“We didn’t look at this as a hey this is going to be a great investment and let’s take advantage of it,” Smith said. “And let’s use the internet to sell more Hadley Pottery. It was, this place has to survive. It’s an iconic part of Louisville. And as we’ve seen today, it’s part of a lot more.”

Hadley Pottery is currently open for business at the Butchertown location only occasionally. The next day for in-person sales will be the first Wednesday in December.

Production is expected to improve and store hours would be extended by mid-2023.