Firm performs feats of clay for sale, theft
The Arizona Daily Star
	Tourists who steal away with glasses from bars and restaurants may be cursed by many, but not by the men who run Carmax Enterprises. At Carmax, they make their living by making those glasses.
	Steve Howell, 28, and Steve Corbett, 31, run the little business, which is tucked between trailers west of Oracle Road near the Rillito River. Howell started the business 2 years ago and was joined by Corbett last year.
	After a slow start, Howell says, "We're finally making a profit." In the past the business has slowed down, in fact almost stopped, during the summer, but this summer has been a busy one, so they are expecting a good year when the tourist season picks up again.
	Carmax's glasses aren't actually glass -- they're ceramic. Howell and Corbett make them from the beginning, from developing the mold to applying the final glaze finish and delivering them. On the average, they go through about 500 pounds of clay each month.
	Most of the glasses Carmax makes are for local Polynesian restaurants, which serve a variety of specialty drinks. Most have one glass that they give to the customer. The glasses that stay include things like tiki gods and large shells. Carmax also makes glasses for the local Holiday Inns.
	There's one rule Howell and Corbett always follow: "Everything's got to say 'Tucson, Arizona,'" Corbett said. That's what makes it a souvenir -- and it's also what makes it saleable over the cheaper glasses made in Japan, he said.
	Carmax finds strong competition from hobbyists -- people who make ceramics in their spare time. Those people are not really in the business to make a living and they don't care much about making a profit, so they sell their pieces for prices Carmax cannot compete with. Of course, hobbyists usually can't make large quantities, either.
	Making the glasses is a lengthy process. If Howell and Corbett are starting with a brand new glass design, 30 days may elapse before the first one is finished. The time is spent designing and building the mold, then making the first glass in about five days. It takes so long because the glasses take a long time to dry at each stage.
	Corbett and Howell say they put out quality merchandise, with precautions taken so that the glasses cannot cause poisoning from lead or other metals. Their glasses also last because of the time put into the product and the material they use.
	However, they find that not every customer cares about quality. "We try not to put any junk on the market, but some people insist on junk by the price," Corbett said.
	Then there is the other kind of "junk" that Carmax makes. The X-rated items aren't especially in good taste most are sold for men and they are popular at swap meets.
	With the business not exactly bringing in riches for Corbett and Howell, they agree to make "any kind of trash you can sell. If you can be really nasty it really sells," Corbett said.
	"We tend to have an image, but I think it has more to do with the quality of the work, not with morals."