October 16, 2008

The Paint-Your-Own Pumpkin

There are lots of scary places to take your kids this time of year. Far more creepy than a Kiwanis Haunted House, but just as expensive, is your local paint-your-own pottery store. The one in my town is made extra frightening by the perplexing overuse of personal pronouns in the store's name: Color Me Mine.

Based upon this flagrant abuse of grammatical convention, I decided that I was justified in never stepping foot into the store. My daughter, however, had a different opinion.
"Please?" she asked.
In a moment of weakness, I agreed.

The contents of the store made my spine tingle. Lining three out of the four walls were floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with unpainted ceramic figurines, organized by genre. The left wall housed the mammals (represented heavily by sea creatures and house pets), while the back wall held an impressive collection of life-like fruits, vegetables, and desserts. The wall to the right was filled with mammoth-sized coffee mugs, an assortment of decorative plates, and other mock serving ware.

"I want to paint that!" squealed Camber, pointing to a $50 stallion jumping over a rainbow.
"I like this pumpkin," I said, holding up the least expensive item in the store.
"How about this?" said Camber, pointing to a ceramic rope basket holding a large bundle of grapes.
"I like this," I said again, taking the $13 pumpkin ($5.50 pumpkin + 6.00 "paint/glaze fee" + tax) to the cash register.

After paying for the pint-sized pumpkin, I turned to find my daughter sitting at a table with a small dish of orange paint.
"Don't you want to paint your pumpkin a lot of different colors?" I asked, figuring that if I was forced to pay for five colors of paint, then we might as well use them.
Camber looked at me like I had two heads.

Not only was my daughter not interested in my paint color suggestions, she also didn't want me to watch her paint. This was fine by me, as it freed me up to watch other people in the store. Of chief interest was the mother and daughter sitting at the table next to us. The other mom clearly loves her daughter a lot more than I love mine because she bought her little darling a $45 porpoise jumping over a large wave.

After listening in on their conversation, I was relieved to discover that I was not the only mom in the room concerned with using my money's worth of paint supplies.

"I didn't pay 50 bucks for an unpainted whale!" hissed the mom to her daughter, who had just announced that she intended to leave the porpoise "white."

After watching this exchange, I began to feel pretty good about my $13 pumpkin.

"I should have bought that pumpkin," the mom mumbled under her breath as she glanced in our direction.

The nice thing to do would have been to console the poor woman, or at least validate her judgment. I couldn't bring myself to do either. The presence of the $50 unpainted porpoise made such gestures impossible.


Sharon (sk) said...

We have a pottery place here that is like that one. But we don't have to pay for paint... jealous?;)

We just pay for the price of the pottery alone. Prices range from about $8.00 to $30.00

I've tried taking my kids several times, each time they want to do a plate. Just a plate. A plate to look at... they don't want me to eat off of it. I have about six plates just sitting around doing nothing.

Diva Ma said...

We haven't done this yet. Don't even know if we have one. I'm sure we do, but if the prices are like that, I hope my kids don't discover it!

Jana said...

C'mon. It's super fun!

Karen said...

I've done this a few times for mom's night out. They let us bring drinks. Geez, that's not a bright idea. But we sure as hell had fun. In fact my lovely "cheapest bowl in the store" is a Halloween bowl in my china cabinet right now.
BUT... I have yet to venture in there with my kids in tow. You are one brave and smart woman.

Anonymous said...

I used to work at one and boy did I feel like we were ripping folks off... I will remain anonymous for the sake of not having bad karma, but seriously, I'd rather break dollar plates for fun instead of paint a piece of pottery for 13.00 - but that's just me

Amy said...

What a tight wad! LOL! We have them all over. I keep toying with the idea of taking my girls. But I leaning more towards no now after your post. ;-)

JoodiePatootie said...

Those places are such money traps!! Don't ever try to host a birthday party there either. And have you seen the list of rules at some of those places? If they break it during glazing- you still pay for it.. Never again will I go to one of those paint yourself silly places.

sophie said...

Personally I just LOVE Paint your Own Pottery! My kids love it too, it's so fun and creative, going to the movies is WAY more expensive these days. It's a great way to spend a fun day with your children and talk together while you are painting, plus you get some cute stuff to give away as gifts. I just don't agree with the previous posts!

Anonymous said...

How can you not love Paint Your Own Pottery? Really, is $13 too much money to spend on quality time doing something with your child that she obviously enjoyed? You could waste $13 sitting silently at a movie together, or maybe even $13 at Chuck E. Cheese where your child will leave with nothing other than a belly full of gross pizza...but maybe that's your thing? Who knows?!

Oh and not all PYOP places are ridiculously overpriced like Color Me Mine... :-)

Margie - NJ said...

Obviously you wouldn't know a good time if it bit you on the butt. PYOP is a wonderful activity for everyone. Granted, most CMM's, which is a franchise, tend to be pricier than individually owned studios. Besides, isn't enjoying an activity with your daughter what's most important!?

And let me guess, you balked at the price of the pottery after pulling up to the studio in your BMW or Lexus, right?

At least your daughter knows how to enjoy herself - my hat's off to Camber! Maybe you should take lessons from her.

Anonymous said...

Every parent has to make decisions about what kind of activities they want to expose their children to and prioritize them according to cost, value received etc.

Over the years (my oldest is now 18 1/2 and the younget is 13) my 3 kids have participated in the following: Soccer, basketball, roller hockey, ballet and other dance lessons, choir and voice lessons, scouts, children's theater and classical music appreciation concert subscriptions, and art classes. Most of these activities included the purchase of the necessary equipment (various types of shoes, uniforms etc.) which sometimes they used only once or twice before the coach declared "your son is afraid of the ball...maybe track would be better".

Paint your own pottery...hmmm. This is something that all three of my kids - even the 18 year old - has enjoyed doing. I look at this as a small investment in my children that develops their motoric abilities, their creativity, their patience (they have to wait a few days until their work is ready) and instills in them, usually a sense of pride when they say "I made this!". $13, $30...a reasonable price for an activity that we participate in every few months that results in something concrete and, if it doesn't break, lasting! The proof of the pudding is the shelves in our home full of our creations - some of which we do use in our kitchen and bathroom.

I think if you check yourself you'll see that you spend money on a lot of things for your kids that don't give you such value.

And if you have a kid interested in roller hockey, I've got a stick and helmet for sale...barely used!

Monkeyblog said...

Hi Jana. I am sorry you did not enjoy your experience in the PYOP you visited. I own a similar studio in Ormond Beach, FL, just north of Daytona Beach. I could tell you the hundred different expenses that are factored into each and every piece of pottery, but what I would rather do is invite you and your family, if you are ever in my area, to my store to have a family outing doing anything you like, on me. We have pottery wheels, pottery painting, glass fusion, mosaics, and more. I like to think that what we offer is not just the pottery, it is also the experience, and judging by all of the repeat customers that have beem loyal to my store for nearly 5 years, we have succeeded. Prices are a little higher in some areas because of overhead, but overall, most of us offer a great value for the project and time spent. Maybe you can try another studio in your area. Go to paintyourownpottery.com to see what else is around in your area. And don't forget, when you come to Florida to visit the mouse and the beach, you have a fun night of art smorgasbord on me! Mudmonkeypottery.com
Love your blogs!