SHERIDAN — As brick-and-mortar presence visibly dwindles in Sheridan, one company is just starting its journey on the streets — Red Bison Studio. Owner Stephen Mullins will host Red Bison Studio’s grand opening June 1 on Grinnell Plaza in conjunction with other vendors and businesses contributing to a festival-type event that evening.
Mullins’ decision to open a storefront stems from his desire to provide something different for the community. The building will hold his personal studio and some merchandise but will mainly be used for community classes.
“I’m trying to grow Red Bison Studio and also have a place for community members who want to make art,” Mullins said. “That’s my big goal.”
Mullins hopes to include a few other teachers so he can offer four evening classes and three daytime classes. His wholesale orders keep him busy, so without help from potter friends, the number of classes he hopes for wouldn’t happen. He excitedly anticipates teaching adults and hopes to offer a parent and tot class at some point, too.
“I want it to be really relaxing and comfortable and just an enjoyable experience, because it is hard but it’s fun and messy,” Mullins said.
Mullins graduated with two art degrees from the University of Wyoming and began teaching in Laramie. He moved to Buffalo to teach pottery and eventually landed in Sheridan, where he taught at the high school for a few years before starting his retail business full time in 2013. Rods, Reels and Heels gave Mullins his first wholesale request.
“I wanted to work with Stephen just because he was a small business and was in the same place that I was with Rods, Reels and Heels and just getting started and figuring things out,” said Rods, Reels and Heels owner Brenna Burgos. “We helped each other a lot trying to figure out that small-business aspect, how do you charge and how do you take orders.”
Mullins’ products drew Burgos in with their unique formations and authentic handmade quality.
“From a consumer buying his mugs, I think it’s cool to find things that are unique and have personality to it,” Burgos said. “As a business owner it’s fun working with somebody local and somebody that’s grassroots and trying to do something new for the community.”
She’s eager to try something new with his classes, too. Mullins credits a lot of his retail success to Third Thursdays, where he really started selling his product and made connections for wholesale production.
“The community really just took me in; it was awesome,” Mullins said.
His grand opening reflects his dedication to community collaboration and support.
“We’re all going to do a business hop,” Mullins said. “You can come get a ticket at my store and go to any of those stores and put your name in for a drawing, and there will be food and alcohol.”
The event features Bonafide food truck and a newer pizza food truck available for meals. Participating businesses include SAGE Community Arts Center, The Union, Twisted Hearts, Cottonwood Kitchen Shop, Fly Shop of the Bighorns, Big Horn Design and Verdello. Many have partnered with Mullins to sell his product or help him build his company along the way.
The grand opening and community event starts at 4 p.m. June 1 in Grinnell Plaza.