A mattress factory in a former life, the Hot Shops Art Center has been awakening creativity in our community for more than sixteen years now; a unique mosaic of 56 art studios, three art galleries and a number of exhibition spaces. What’s more, our August Small Business of the Month has seen one of the hottest districts in Omaha – north downtown – literally grow up around it. 

“When we (a group of artists and investors) bought Hot Shops in November of 1999, Omaha hadn’t voted on the convention center and riverfront development hadn’t happened yet. Film Streams, Slowdown, the ballpark, Tip-Top, the Mastercraft Building and the four hotels were not here. The growth has been amazing, and we are proud to be thought of as an anchor to the neighborhood,” says Tim Barry, a potter and Hot Shops general manager since 2006.

Winning insights from our August winner:

Customer Service
“For the makers/artists, we give them a place and the opportunity to be creative. We want Hot Shops to be that place they can come to see how good they can be.  

“For the public, Hot Shops lets us see and experience how the art is made. We can see the tools, the ideas on sketchpads, scale models, mistakes and do-overs. You can feel the heat from the glass furnace, watch the potters bring a lump of clay to life or the sculptor pour the molten bronze. 

“Our greatest pride comes from putting sparks in minds of people young and old. The looks on their faces when the glass blower pulls the 2000-degree glass out of the furnace are priceless.”

Employee Engagement
“Our job description is ‘Whatever it takes; I’ve got your back; let’s work hard so we can play hard.’”

Best Practice Tip
“Be the best you – you can be.”

Value of Chamber Membership
“Creativity dies without opportunity. The Chamber provides numerous quality opportunities. No other organization has been more encouraging, supportive and sharing of where we are, where we’ve been and what’s coming next in technology, markets and culture. … As a small business, to feel that somebody’s got my back – that’s a great feeling.”

Open since the spring of 2000, Barry says the Hot Shops Art Center is just getting warmed up. 

“The potential for growth and collaboration are as hot as the glassblowers’ furnace.”  

United Republic Bank is the sponsor of the Small Business of the Month award. View more information or nominate a small business online.