Friday, July 22, 2011

Top 5 Bead Store Expectations


Bead stores have changed & evolved over the years.  When we first opened The Beadin' Path in 1993, our shoppers expected loads of kokopelli pendants, Christmas beads & everything dolphin.  We had a small work table where we helped would-be jewelry designers finish off leather 'thong' necklaces with spring cord ends & barrel clasps.

Fast forward ca. 2011: the trends are no longer dolphins & kokopellis, but vintage lace, bright colored mod & bold sized beads, agates, and any piece of metal that can be hammered, textures, stamped or otherwise manipulated.  'Beaders' have evolved into 'kitchen-counter-metalsmiths'.

Here's what you can expect from your local bead store:

1) Jewelry Finishing Tips
Every full-service bead store should be equipped with knowledgable staff'ers who make jewelry themselves. Part of the joy of working at a bead store is being able to share your knowledge with jewelry makers ranging in experience from newbie to pro.

2) Relaxed & Social Atmosphere
Great local bead stores have an area to pow-wow, hang-out, and otherwise connect with other jewelry makers.  Fantastic bead stores can range space-wise, from closet-sized spaces to mall-sized stores. Even in the smallest bead stores, it's imperative that there's a space to sit & learn a thing or two, from the staff or even other beaders at the studio space.

3) Design Advice
Inspiration should abound at your local bead store. When we get in new products, there's excitement from everyone on staff & we love to brainstorm different ways to use the new components.  Our shoppers inspire us as well when they pick up a pendant & pair it with something unexpected. Design advice is a give & take.

4) Beads and Jewelry Supplies You Can Touch
While some bead stores may have specialties within the beading niche, others might have a full range of various types of beads, materials & findings. What's great about shopping in an actual bead stores, is that aside from the services listed above, designing with beads is a tactile experience. Touch the beads, work with the textures, and understand your materials.

5) A Community
Like many niche-type stores, your local bead shop should be a place where you can gather or connect with others in your bead & jewelry making community.  If there isn't space, many bead stores will have retreats where they bring together their clientele for special classes, trunk shows & other fun events. Sometimes that community might start online using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook & now Google+.  A bead store can really be the hub of an amazing and creative force.

What do you like about your favorite local bead shop?  I'd love to hear the things that make shopping there special.  Or what would you like to see at your local bead store?  Please comment below or email me at