Bam Bam pots rock

Tacoma hosts the best pot merchant in the Pacific Northwest

By Angela Jossy on April 26, 2007

Kathryn Bamford has a green thumb and an eye for one-of-a-kind pots. Her store, Bamford and Bamford Pottery, is an amazing place to visit with eye candy at every turn. Though the pottery is the main attraction at Bamford and Bamford, in the upcoming June edition of Sunset magazine it will officially be named the best place to find water features in the Pacific Northwest.

Ted Walker, Bamford and Bamford’s general manager, designed the impressive showroom, which features Asian furniture, water fountains, glass sculptures from China and some of their most beautiful and exotic pottery.

Though the showroom is stunning, even the pottery yard outside is a beautiful sight to behold. The yard is filled with glazed pots of all shapes and sizes stacked nine feet high and sorted by color. There are round, square, urn-shaped, sphere-shaped, twisted, spiraled and even zigzagged pots. They come in every color of the rainbow. Glancing from side to side, there’s a pile of purple, a pile of black, a pile of red, a pile of wasabe green, a pile of yellow, a pile of orange and a pile of rustic. There are also working water fountains placed throughout in matching colors. Some pots are hand made, some are created from molds, and some are a combination of both. In the center of the yard, there are rows of plants for sale. Bamford sells all-season plants that look great throughout the entire year, but in the summertime she also features more exotic tropical plants.

Bamford, a master gardener, started out with a small rhododendron and plant nursery in the early ‘90s. In 1993, she visited South East Asia, where she began her love affair with pottery. When she returned home, she started a wholesale imported pottery business for local sellers. In 2001, she decided to become a retailer herself, and she opened a store downtown Tacoma near Thea Foss waterway. At first the store was open only one day a week, but business demand grew, and soon it became a 5-day-a-week operation. A couple of times a year Bamford goes to Vietnam to hand select pottery for her store. The company began to outgrow that space in 2006, so in January of this year she began moving to the new 24,000 square-foot space. The new location (described here) is one block from Highway 16 in Tacoma near Home Depot.

Three weeks ago, the new Bamford and Bamford Pottery opened for business. Now it is open seven days a week. In addition to selling a large selection of pottery from Vietnam and China, Bamford and Bamford also sells furniture, plants and garden artwork. Customers can take gardening and fountain building classes there and also get a personal consultation about plant issues.

Bamford and Bamford Fountain designer Derek Smith makes up cute nicknames for the pots such “Golden Nugget,” “Creamsicle,” and “Twist.”

Smith said he started as a “pot-huffer,” which is someone who helps to move the pots. Huffing pots is no easy task, since some of the pots are as tall as 5 feet and as heavy as 250 pounds. Some of the sculptures can be even bigger than that. While moving and arranging pots, Smith discovered he had a flair for the more aesthetic aspects and soon became a water feature designer.

According to Smith, almost any of their pots can be transformed into water fountains. Many water features reside inside large plastic liners that look like the gothic version of a children’s backyard swimming pool. The idea is to dig a hole and place the liner inside it forming a pond. Then the creativity comes into play. Customers can come up with their own design or have experts such as Smith and Walker come in and place rocks, fountains and other pots and plants inside to create a custom designed water display.

Bamford and Bamford has a 30-day exchange policy and a lifetime guarantee on pots against cracking or breakage due to freezing temperatures.

“We like to think of ourselves as the Nordstrom of the pot industry,” says Bamford, “We pride ourselves on our customer service.”

[Bamford and Bamford Pottery, 3001 Huson St. Bldg. A, Tacoma,]