Starbucks Saves Small-Town Factory

Places giant order with Ohio potter
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2012 6:40 PM CDT
Updated Jun 16, 2012 7:00 PM CDT
Starbucks Saves Small-Town Factory
A rack of coffee mugs for sale with the Starbucks Corp. logo.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

In an era of disappearing manufacturing jobs and struggling small towns, a giant corporation has become an unlikely hero in Ohio. East Liverpool, by the Ohio River, has been called country's "Pottery Capital," but lately just a few factories remain. Among them is American Mug and Stein, which recently finished up its heftiest order ever: Starbucks requested 20,000 mugs. The project allowed owner Clyde McClellan to double his staff—and continuing Starbucks orders have let him keep them employed, NPR reports.

Hausenware, Starbucks' mug and tumbler supplier, normally looks to overseas factories. This time, however, the company opted to stay domestic—even though it takes far longer for McClellan's firm to make the mugs on old equipment. "When these small towns and these small factories are supported by a large customer that believes in it, we can make it happen, we can bring it back," says Hausenware's owner. "There are hundreds of East Liverpools around the country today," notes Starbucks boss Howard Schultz. "Even though it's more expensive to manufacture this mug in the US ... this is what we need to do." (Read more Starbucks stories.)

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