Rebuilding an American Dream in East Liverpool, Ohio

At one time, East Liverpool, Ohio was known as “the Pottery Capital of the World.” Today this city – like so many others in America – is facing a jobs crisis as its industries decline. But I recently got to visit one ceramics factory that is the story of a remarkable resurgence.

Inspired by Create Jobs for USA, a program Starbucks launched in November 2011 with Opportunity Finance Network, one of our long term suppliers, Ulrich Honighausen, came to us with a vision to address a gap in American manufacturing with a modern ceramic factory.

But rather than build a new facility from the ground-up, Ulrich wanted to reemploy skilled ceramic workers anxious to return to their craft.  All roads led to the American Mug and Stein company in East Liverpool.

Despite it’s wealth in artisanship, the company had been forced to cut wages and benefits and reduce employee hours just to keep operations afloat. Now, American Mug and Stein is producing a ceramic 12 oz. “Indivisible” mug for us. It’s a sleek white celebratory product made with raw materials sourced from Tennessee, Ohio, Georgia, and Florida. Retailing for $9.95, Starbucks will make a $2 donation to the Create Jobs for USA Fund with each purchase

When I went back in April to see the factory in full production, I found hope and new energy among the workers.  With the Starbucks orders, American Mug and Stein was able to rehire people that had been let go in previous months and years, and hire new workers who desperately needed employment. And through Opportunity Finance Network, the company was able to secure a loan that will spur even greater growth. 

As we hear on the news everyday, the problems our country faces are complex, but often the solutions start small. We’re not solving the unemployment issues through these orders but it’s a start, and we’re hoping this concept inspires you as much as it has inspired us.

comments (55)

Comment FAQ

    • corbyjames
    • 6/12/2012 10:05 AM

    A small, but important step in the right direction. Way to go, Starbucks!

    • archena
    • 6/12/2012 10:19 AM

    Thank you Virginia and Thank you Starbucks! Hopefully can pick up one
    of these mugs at my local Starbucks in Metro ATL soon.

    • bridgetdhughes
    • 6/12/2012 12:28 PM

    This is extremely insipring. Thank you, Starbucks, Howard, Ulrich and everyone who made this possible. I can't wait to go pick up my mug and some Indivisible Blend!

    • keiragw
    • 6/12/2012 5:50 PM

    It is nice to see your money where your mouth is. More USA products please. Thank you.

    • Daba1421
    • 6/13/2012 5:33 AM

    I'm originally from East Liverpool Ohio!! Way to go Satrbucks what you did was a great thing! I hope this small town will be able to make many more mugs for you in the future!
    I hope other companies will follow your example and start to keep business opportunities herein the good old USA

    • RayBigs
    • 6/13/2012 10:43 PM

    This is a story of my Hometown...East Liverpool, Ohio.....it was a great place to grow up in the Fifties.....that's when the Japanese starting taking over the world's pottery industry..maybe the pottery industry was one of the first USA manufacturing industries that went overseas & then the steel mills followed.....I now live on Whidbey Island (Seattle, WA)...Let's everyone buy at least one mug..and we can put some of my Family back to work..one at a time...maybe a set for the office...

    • d123456d
    • 6/14/2012 1:18 PM

    Looks like an awesome mug! Are they selling it on their website too? http://americanmugandstein.com

    • pramirezroa
    • 6/14/2012 3:02 PM

    Great way to create value to the company and to the community. Smart supply chain management.

    • ddee55mo
    • 6/14/2012 3:18 PM

    Now I can buy a couple of Starbucks coffee mugs. I refuse to buy "Made in you know where*. I'm from the Midwest originally. Have seen what has happened because of manufacturing moving overseas. Now I make it a point to shop with companies that carry "Made in USA*. Keep up the good work.

    • kellicomer
    • 6/14/2012 4:29 PM

    Not only am I proud to be a former employee of Starbucks, I'm also proud to have grown up in the East Liverpool area and see this awesomeness happen! THANK YOU Starbucks Coffee for supporting local businesses! =) Can't wait to go buy my mug.

      • kevin.fay
      • 11/24/2013 1:18 PM

      In reply to: kellicomer

      My wife and I have been looking for well over a year to find one. We even asked a store manager, who had no idea what we were speaking of. Perhaps someone at Starbucks can answer two simple questions. When will they be available. Where will we be able to purchase them?

    • Picciuto13
    • 6/15/2012 10:52 AM

    Mr. Schultz I commend you for stepping out in small but VERY important way to get America working again. People across this great Nation are starving to purchase quality products made here in the USA. When I heard of this I immediately drove to my nearest Starbucks bought a blackeye coffee and the last remaining mug in the store. The store associate told me the mugs were selling as fast as they could get them. Encouraged by this, I past this link with a note to my company's CEO hoping we can join

    • csw112
    • 6/16/2012 12:54 PM

    I just received my Indivisible Mug, and don't regret my purchase at all - Starbucks has made an important first step! However, I'm shocked and appalled at the design of the mug - it looks pretty, but who these days needs a mug that isn't microwavable, and is not dishwasher safe? America needs to reinvest in updating it's factories, but also needs to tune in to the consumer and make intelligent design decisions!

      • jascat3
      • 12/22/2012 11:31 AM

      In reply to: csw112

      If you do not regret your purchase, why are you complaining about the features of this wonderful coffee mug? Go buy the Made in _______ stuff that are microwavable, dishwasher state. That would seem to make you happier.

        • jimthem
        • 9/28/2013 11:27 AM

        In reply to: jascat3

        CSW112 is right - offer quality products, which in the case of this mug, make it microwavable and dishwasher safe.

        Would Starbucks offer terrible coffee because "it's American and that's all that matters?"

        The mug is a wonderful idea, now fix it!

    • donbunker900
    • 11/13/2012 11:47 PM

    Good Work. This is a great way to get AMERICA back on track WITHOUT the government intervention that wastes taxpayer money.!

    • Lkgeiser
    • 11/14/2012 3:55 PM

    Are these mugs still available at Starbucks locations? I want to purchase one, but I have never been able to find one at any Starbucks.

    • russela2
    • 11/27/2012 11:43 AM

    I'm looking as well. Ditto Lkgeiser.

    • najala19
    • 12/20/2012 2:30 PM

    I love this story. This is what the world should be like. Thanks Starbucks.

    • mummy317@yahoo.com
    • 12/21/2012 5:52 PM

    my father was raised in east liverpool, ohio. i had never heard of it til he told us where he was raised. this is the first time i have "heard" of it since then! thanks starbucks for not letting my father's hometown die.!

    • DouglasfShipp
    • 12/26/2012 2:10 PM

    I thank Starbucks for making us users aware of the gem they have found
    in East Liverpool. I had never heard of East Liverpool before but I am now more aware. Thank You Starbucks.

    • teatotlor
    • 1/12/2013 9:44 AM

    I am from a small town in an area that was stricken with the same disbelief as East Liverpool. Thank you starbucks for not just seeing the need but for stepping up to the plate and facing that destructive pitcher. God bless the work of your hands and give you wisdom to lead.

    • deborahtrace@hotmail.com
    • 2/3/2013 10:03 AM

    hello I seek work here where I can leave my application

    • WolfRock
    • 2/9/2013 7:32 AM

    i love Starbucks! and i am only 11.

    • Cathy Melendez
    • 3/2/2013 7:57 PM

    My father's family is from East Liverpool, Ohio. This is a small town of hard working potters struggling to make a small living. Thank you Starbucks for giving this small town a chance to once again realize it's potential!

    • kwyrick@q.com
    • 3/13/2013 6:16 AM

    Have never found such a cup available either online or at a Starbucks. What gives? Just free advertising? If buying American works, why are ALL the mugs I find Starbucks selling made in China?????

    So far this looks phony.

    • marry711
    • 3/17/2013 7:43 PM

    WHAT A W0NDERFU1 ST0RY,,,JUST THINK,,, F0R THE 0NES
    THAT REA11Y WANT T0 W0RK ,,THE 0NES THAT D0N'T WANT
    T0 SUCK THE SYSTEM,,, THE 0NES THAT C0ME IN THE STARBUCKS
    ST0RES BEGGING AND PENHAND1ING IF WE CAN 0N1Y FIND THEIR
    W0RK IN THEIR HEARTS,,, EVERYB0DY CAN GET BACK,, WE AD0PT A
    D0G AND CAT,,, WHAT IN THE W0R1D CAN'T THE BIGGER PICTURE 0F
    STARBUCKS AD0PT A HUMAN BEING T0 W0RK F0R THEM T0 BE SENT
    T0 THE FIE1DS F0R THE 0NES THAT 1IKE TRAVE1 HE1P PICK THE C0FFEE
    BEAN,,, MARCH 17, 2013

      • marry711
      • 3/17/2013 7:50 PM

      In reply to: marry711

      TAKE F0R INSTANCE ME,,, I'11 G0,,, AD0PT ME,,
      I'M CAUGHT IN THE SYSTEM,,,BUT I D0N'T BEG
      0R PANHAND1E,, I'M A PATR0N,,, BUT I C0U1D BE
      Y0UR REPRESENTIVE F0R THIS NEXT ENTERPUNER
      ADVENTURE 0F Y0UR C0MPANY
      NANCY 1EE KE11Y PR0DUCTI0NS,,,,


    • dieric57@att.net
    • 3/25/2013 9:09 PM

    With all due respect, I am a 59 year old disabled man who has severe pain and trouble walking. I went to patronize a local business next to Starbucks but due to Starbucks remodeling the disabled parking and curb access was totally blocked by a shipping container and a large truck. The workers at the Starbucks remodeling were totally oblivios to the fact they were causing great harm and discomfort to the less fortunate disabled with their lust to do a great job for Starbucks! Shame & condemnation

    • dieric57@att.net
    • 3/25/2013 9:15 PM

    Did you even acknowledge my feedback? You are immpossible to contact on your website? Are you so greedy that you can't even follow your own corperate responsibility to the less fortunate disabled? Where is a contact phone#? location is 790 C1 Treat Blvd in Walnut Creek CA 94528. Why are you arrogantly blocking the disabled parking along with a good deal of the whole parking lot? Shame, Shame on you to big to fail global miscreedants. This is written with respect but a failure on Starbucks to see!

    • dieric57@att.net
    • 3/25/2013 9:25 PM

    These comments were written in part because the customer service app on the website was just spinning and spinning and not connecting? The "contact us" app just kept refering back to the locked up CUSTOMER SERVICE PAGE??????? What a blemish on an otherwise perceived, responsible big coffee co ? I love the over-priced white chocalate mocha but I will contact WC, CA 94528 city officals in regards to the legality of shutting off access to the aged and disabled, OK!

      • guitargodkc@gmail.com
      • 9/19/2013 4:07 PM

      In reply to: dieric57@att.net

      As a handicapped person, I can sympathize with you, but these actions were not of Starbucks doing, but of the contractor. This is a blog. Their phone number is listed on the site, as is the address. If you were unable too connect, that may be your computer settings.

    • beckyterrell@me.com
    • 5/18/2013 5:28 PM

    As an Alumnae of East Liverpool High School, I can't tell you how happy I am that you have invested in this city. They have be decimated by overseas cheap labor. Thank you for investing in the USA and East Liverpool in particular!

    • Jamesblake4570@gmail.com
    • 5/29/2013 7:39 PM

    Good article. I grew up in the Ohio Valley and it is good to see some vitality returning. Thanks SB!

    • Gazettepaperman
    • 7/31/2013 9:11 PM

    Thank you for using the considerable power of a major corporation to lift up a bedrock industry in the Midwest. Keep it up.

    • ELskater678@hotmail.com
    • 8/3/2013 10:49 PM

    Thank you so much for bringing a little bit of hope back to this community! It is greatly appreciated!

    • janbmccarthy@comcast.net
    • 8/16/2013 8:05 AM

    It will be a refreshing change to see "Made in USA" on the bottom of a Starbucks mug!! I'm looking forward to buying several. So glad you are doing something for people here in your home country.

    • thirstynow
    • 8/17/2013 1:11 PM

    Awesome to see a positive step forward!

    • sokhamin721@gmail.com
    • 9/1/2013 3:30 AM

    We should aspired to be like this

    • guitargodkc@gmail.com
    • 9/19/2013 4:14 PM

    As a longtime supporter of Starbucks, I am pleased to see what you've done here. I'd like to see you do more of this. I support you because you pay better than everett, benefits for all and quality products. I only wish you sourced more items llke this from America helping more small businesses like this in small towns. You could do so much more with your powerful connections and partnerships. Please do! It'll only make you stronger and more loved!

    • WCOCHRAN2002@YAHOO.COM
    • 9/21/2013 5:08 AM

    GO BUCKS!

    • julie.127@gmail.com
    • 9/27/2013 6:35 PM

    I love this idea being from the area. But since this was announced I have yet to find a cup I can buy. I have asked every starbucks and the people online. Where can I buy some?

    • amir@buckies
    • 10/7/2013 4:55 AM

    To this day I would never thought of thanking a "CORPORATE CONGLOMERATE"
    but when real good is done and that real good is ALL AMERICAN not "ASSEMBLED in USA" or "MADE FROM GLOBALLY SOURCED MATERIALS IN USA" but thru and whole hearted AMERICAN thats when the hat must be tipped of to MR. Schultz & his enigmatic revival of "REAL GOOD" with that rant I end by saying a small token of gratitude for setting precedence in this great land of ours.

    • Tulipsar3Better
    • 10/16/2013 6:39 PM

    I used to live across the river in Chester, West Virginia, and I know how much this town really needed that. I think it's awesome. I'm looking forward to buying one of these mugs to remind me and take me back to that wonderful place.

    • ddiddle12
    • 11/21/2013 5:10 PM

    I grew up in ELO and my family is all still there...heading there for Thanksgiving, actually. Thanks, Starbucks, for investing in a piece of America that's been just hanging on for a while now. Maybe you could consider buying your store plates from Homer Laughlin china in Newell, WV, just across the Ohio River. HLC makes great stuff too.

    • mark34476@gmail.com
    • 11/28/2013 7:13 PM

    I like the idea ,but have never seen a mug . Starbucks used to sell beautiful mugs . The last set I bought maybe 8 to 10 years ago was painted with a leaf or foliage design. they were the last mugs I bought from you & were all stolen from the person I gifted them too. Maybe you could look into doing some designs rather than the plain or stark looking mugs & such that I have seen the last few years . Thank you.

    • christina.snedeker
    • 12/5/2013 5:49 PM

    If we all do a small part, we can make a big difference. Thanks Starbucks! Where can I purchase a mug?

    • gypsyideal
    • 12/8/2013 4:37 PM

    We purchased one of them when they first were in Starbucks stores. Would love to get more. Hope they will be sold in Starbucks again in the future.

    • megapod
    • 12/11/2013 9:02 AM

    Where can we buy some?

    • ALLSTARS4233@aol.com
    • 12/16/2013 7:39 PM

    How cool, my Mother was born in East Liverpool, Ohio!!!

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