BELFAST — After the unexpected death of her husband, Jamie Oates, last spring, Jeannette Faunce will close Mainely Pottery for good Oct. 31 after over 32 years in business.

Not having him working in his studio while she is in the shop has felt different, she said. Oates would work in his attached studio while she ran the shop. She does not want to continue running the shop without that partnership.

The decision comes at a time when many of the potters who sell out of the shop are planning to retire, she said.

The shop is the largest collection of Maine-made pottery in the state, Faunce said. There are not many shops that carry pottery items exclusively, but some home décor shops carry ceramic items.

It is a place where residents, both seasonal and permanent, and tourists all shop from May 1 to Christmas, she said. There is also a large garden behind the shop people like to visit.

Mainely Pottery opened in 1988, soon after Faunce and Oates were married, she said. They met after moving to Belfast. The two started out selling pottery from seven potters and expanded their offerings to include work from 30 different potters. A few years after opening, the two had so much business they had to expand their season’s closing from mid-October until Christmas.

Once Oates started in pottery, it was all he wanted to do, Faunce said. “He was a potter who loved being a potter,” she said. His work often featured Maine themes. His style was careful, slow and methodical.

He organized potter rallies, was a curler and member of the Belfast Curling Club, helped found Our Town Belfast and was the former president of the Maine Crafts Guild.

Our Town Belfast Director Zach Schmesser said Oates’ legacy as a founding member still persists today. His and Faunce’s shop, located on Route 1, served as an unofficial visitor center where people passing through would ask the couple about what there was to do in the city.

The pottery business has led the way for many makers and artists in the city, he said. It was also a shop that people would come to Belfast on purpose to visit. There is no replacing the shop when it closes, he said, and it will leave a gap in the community that will not immediately be filled.

“I think it’s going to be a hole and a loss to the community when they close,” Schmesser said. “… They’ve created a culture for art, artists and makers in Belfast.”

Maine Crafts Association Executive Director Sadie Bliss said Maine is known for being a pottery hotspot. The organization has two galleries, The Center for Maine Craft and Maine Craft Portland, that feature work from 30 potters. Pottery is an established art in the state and is in the top three sales groups at the organization’s galleries.

“Craft is really part of Maine’s history and culture, and ceramics is one of the driving forces of that, the reputation for ceramic artists in Maine and the number of them and the resources supporting them,” she said.

Art shops play an important role in connecting the public with artists’ work, she said. When a shop closes it causes a ripple effect where artists have to shift how they sell and advertise their work.

She thinks part of the reason for the success and popularity of Mainely Pottery was that it dedicated itself to pottery instead of selling a general mix of crafts. “I think Mainely Pottery was definitely one of the standout galleries and just known places to buy quality work from well-known artists, and it’s definitely a loss for artists and the craft community and folks coming into the state.”

Faunce said she is thankful for the community’s support. “I appreciate the patronage of the Belfast community for all these years. It’s been an honor,” she said.

As of Oct. 16 there was no pottery by Oates available for sale. The shop is at 181 Searsport Ave.