On the Job with Anita Riggle

Anita Riggle is a graduate of Georgia Southwestern State University and owner of The Clay Spot on Dawson Road.

Anita Riggle is a graduate of Georgia Southwestern State University and owner of The Clay Spot on Dawson Road.


NAME: Anita Riggle

AGE: 39

POSITION: Owner of the Clay Spot on Dawson Road

FAMILY: Married to Eric. They have

two children: Jason, 16, and Gretchen, 12

EDUCATION: Graduated from

Georgia Southwestern State University

ALBANY, Ga. -- Flexible hours, a flair for creativity and familiarity with a paint brush led Anita Riggle to purchase The Clay Spot on Dawson Road when it came up for sale a few years ago.

Riggle thought the Dawson Road enterprise would be a fun type of business to own and operate.

By her admission, she is not a morning person, and so the flexible hours appealed to the mother of two school-age children. She prefers a paint brush to almost any other kind of gadget, she says, and arrives at her current profession from a Creative Memories scrapbooking business.

Riggle recently shared a question-and-answer session with reporter Jim West.

Q. What was your first job?

A. At JC Penney. I was about 15 years old and started in the gift-wrapping section at the holidays and stayed on after the holiday rush.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first-ever paycheck?

A. I saved some of it and the rest went toward a church choir tour.

Q. What's the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. I think here at The Clay Spot, just making sure they're trained as far as helping customers if they want to do handprints or footprints and helping them get ideas. Also, it's just a fun work environment.

Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to operate your own business?

A. The Clay Spot's an established business here in Albany and it's been here almost 15 years, so when my kids were growing up we always came here and enjoyed our experience. We thought it would be a neat business to one day look at owning, and so when it came up for sale we went for it. It's great entertainment for people of all ages. I just thought it would be a neat experience to own a business and have some flexible hours.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. Not really a set person. It's kind of been many different people through my life, and I've gained experiences and knowledge from those people. That's helped me on my journey.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. Well, The Clay Spot is a little cyclical, and so we have to prepare for our busier times and then some slow times. As far as with the recession, we just try to be creative and try to get people to come through our doors, as far as offering birthday parties and ladies nights, art night. With the recession, we've also gone out to schools and we've traveled in other communities, like Cordele and Tifton, to take The Clay Spot to them.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology - examples email, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. - what would you most like to see go away?

A. Definitely the automated phone systems. It's just so hard when you're trying to talk to a person and get something resolved. Here at The Clay Spot it's so one-on-one, contact is just a vital part of our business here. It's just sad that society relies so much on automation.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. I don't have a lot of work-related gadgets. I use the computer a lot here at The Clay Spot for ideas or quotes, looking up things for customers. Mainly, just give me a paint brush, I'm happy.

Q. What is your favorite tradition?

A. Our family loves certain items around the holidays that I cook. It's always fun fixing their favorite dishes.

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. The last book I read was "Kisses from Katie." It's a book about a girl from Tennessee who moved to Uganda and ended up adopting 15 children. She's over there now trying to help educate, clothe and nurture the children of Uganda that are without parents. I just think that was a fascinating thing, and Christ was certainly working in her life. Personally, I try to read my Bible every day and have a daily devotion.

Q. I'm up and going by ... ? And what is your morning routine?

A. I mentioned the flexible hours of The Clay Spot, so I'm not really a morning person. Typically I stay up really late and sleep in, so my morning routine would be checking the news and eating breakfast and doing my devotion.

Q. What famous person would you like to meet, and why?

A. I think, after reading "Kisses from Katie," I'd really like to meet Katie Davis. I would love to go to Uganda and just see her life in action. I've read about her experiences over there, and I think that it's just so sacrificial for her to go and do that. She's like the next Mother Teresa, and it would would be interesting to watch her path.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. Definitely. I've always been into scrapbooking and now digital scrapbooking. I love photography and reading.

Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?

A. I don't have any regrets as far as what I've done in my life. I enjoy being a stay-at-home mom. I had a Creative Memories scrapbooking business. I'm still a consultant for them. Purchasing The Clay Spot allowed us to have the flexibility to have my kids up here at work, so it's just been great.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. Working with people. Helping them come up with the ideas to create a plate or a piece of artwork they want to display at their home and then seeing the joy when they see the finished product.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. When something breaks.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was ...?

A. Probably marketing, just because it's helped with developing ideas for The Clay Spot and just getting the name in the community.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. I don't know if it would really be a dream job, but having experiences with family members and friends who have dealt with illnesses and cancer. I just really feel like if I'd taken a medical route maybe medical research would be something I would really enjoy doing as far as trying to find a cure.

Q. Finish this thought: "On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself ..."

A. Hiking in the Rockies. We love Colorado and hiking.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Integrity. It's important to have that. People can see that you're real, that you're honest.

Q. Crystal ball time: What's your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?

A. It's kind of hard to pinpoint when that will happen. I think people need more security in their jobs and also some relief from the higher gas prices and food prices. So maybe when that happens the confidence will come back.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. Definitely Phillip Phillips right now. That's the top one, and I also like Adele and Casting Crowns.

Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?

A. I think we'll see more growth in the higher education realm and also the medical field expansion, and hopefully that will generate jobs for our community.

Q. What was the best vacation you've ever taken?

A. We went to Glacier National Park. It was just beautiful. We did hiking and rafting and went on a helicopter ride. We also met two college students from Albany there.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. The ceramics business has certainly seen a shift in companies we purchase items from trying to bring that back to the United States, instead of so much of it being imported from China. So we have higher quality ceramics, usually, coming from the United States.