Fans of Fiesta, the most collected dinnerware in the country, can find great deals and take factory tours in the small community of Newell, W. Va., the home of Homer Laughlin China Co., the brand's manufacturer.
By Standard & Poor's estimates, the company's annual sales range from $40 million to $50 million, and its cobalt-colored dinner plates, marigold baking trays, turquoise vases, shamrock ashtrays and tangerine water pitchers have brightened kitchen tables for 144 years.
Fiesta Employs Many, Attracts Tourists
Entrepreneur Homer Laughlin established the company in 1871 in East Liverpool, Ohio, then sold the it in 1897. Eight years later, it moved to Newell. East Liverpool and Newell became big in the dinnerware business because clay along the nearby Ohio River is ideal for making pottery and china items.
Today, 1,100 employees produce 40 glossy colors of cups, bowls and plates, along with coffee pots, egg holders, carafes, teapots and more. The colors include traditional black and white along with lapis, poppy, flamingo, peacock, plum, scarlet, sunflower, lemongrass and paprika. Fiesta gives buyers the option to select by the piece rather than purchasing entire sets, so buyers can mix and match from the color range.
“Color! That’s the trend today,” states an early Homer Laughlin China Co. brochure. “It gives the hostess the opportunity to create her own table effects. Plates of one color, cream soups of another, contrasting cups and saucers. It’s fun to set a table with Fiesta!”
Residents here are used to the flow of Fiesta fans from far away who've made the trip to tour the plant and get great deals on pieces they want to add to their collections.
Big Discounts on Fiesta Factory Seconds
For cost savings, many collectors travel to Newell itself to visit an on-site factory store as well as a Seconds Warehouse, where pieces of Fiesta with small defects can be purchased at major discounts. For example, a 10-inch dinner plate that retails for $18 in a department store might sell for $5 in the Seconds Warehouse, simply because the plate has a light spot in the glaze or a “dimple” in the finish.
In addition, the Homer Laughlin plant hosts bi-annual tent sales in mid-July and early October to sell as many of its factory seconds as possible. The aforementioned $18 dinner plate with a “dimple” could go for as low as $2 at a tent sale, along with fruit bowls for perhaps $2, casserole bowls for $10, loaf pans for $7 and mugs for $1.
Veteran collectors also know to attend the three-day June and October tent sales on the last days, when the company puts up signs displaying the biggest discounts on several items. Another tip from experienced warehouse and tent sale shoppers: Bring a rag to wipe dusty items and closely check for defects.
Homer Laughlin China Co. Hours and Tours
The Homer Laughlin factory store and Seconds Warehouse are open seven days a week, with the exception of major holidays, and there are two factory tours daily from Monday through Friday, at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
For those who can't make a trip to Newell to take advantage of the discounts, products are available at stores like American Furniture, Belk, Dillard’s, JCPenney, Kohl’s and Macy’s, and on company’s website.