Sunday, September 14, 2008


Piles of beads.

Cindi driving to the bead warehouse.

Rush hour traffic.

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago with my good friend Cindi.  Cindi owns Bead Haven, a fantastic bead store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  The mission was to buy beads to restock her supply of beads for her store.  She picked me up in Iowa City at 4:50am (she's a Virgo like me, so of course she was 10 minutes early!).  We ran into torrential rains on the way and I thought we might have to pull off.  Cindi handled it like a trooper though, as nothing was going to get in her way!  We went to a huge wholesale bead warehouse that stocks stores like Cindi's.  I'm sure that you could just call them and they would deliver whatever you wanted.  That's just not how Cindi runs her store.  She has to hand pick just about everything in the place.  A good practice, since beads just aren't usually done justice by photographs.  I was recently talking with a woman who proudly told me that she buys most of her beads and supplies online to save money.  Of course, I buy a lot of my materials online, too.  The amounts of precious metals that I use in my work would just not be cost effective to buy from a retail store.  But when it comes to beads, stones and other unique items that I might add to my pieces, I generally try to buy at a show or at a bead shop like Cindi's.  First of all, there is nothing like being able to hold the beads in your hand, feel their weight and check out their color and finish in person.  There is nothing like picking out the exact bead that you need for a project in person.  Catalogues are great, but in my opinion, not a substitute for a really great bead store.  This same person who buys her beads online, told me that she goes to bead stores to check things out and then orders them online.  If most people chose to do this it wouldn't be long before there are no more local bead stores to go to.  I think buying all that you can locally, is a really great thing.
Anyway, it was so fun shopping with Cindi.  Once we got there, she was a machine.  She knows her inventory and her customers really well.  She sent me around to pick out things that I like and then she said yea or nay based on what she believes will go over well at her store.  It's a real skill to know your customers that well and not just buy what you, yourself like. She comes to this place prepared, too!  She has her own little step stool, a cooler with cold drinks, hangers for the strands of beads that she buys, and of course, plenty of candy for sustenance!   I'm not sure how much help I was, but it was fantastic for me.  I found out something important about myself.  I don't need to own every bead in the world, I just need to buy them with someone else's money!  If only I could turn that into a career!  I've never seen so many beads in one place before.  Her customers are in for a treat, as she got so many really beautiful things!

We were at the warehouse from 9am to 5pm, can you believe that?  Afterwards, it was rush hour, so we decided to stay off of the freeway and drive around a bit and look for a junk shop to rummage through.  We didn't find any, but we found ourselves in Geneva where one of Cindi's best friends, Susie lives.  She decided to call her to say hi and weirdly, she was driving a block away from us. We all went to dinner and had a great time.  Susie is as sweet and funny as Cindi, so you know it was a good time.  Cindi was beat (I think she crashed from her sugar high that she got from consuming 24 pieces of candy in 15 minutes!) so I drove us home.  It was a great day and I can't wait to see all of the stuff she got once it's all displayed.  Thanks Cindi!

1 comment:

Jeanne Craine said...

Sounds like a great trip!! I've seen some of the things Cindi brought home--Yes, her customers are in for a REAL treat! I so agree Cris with what you said about going to an actual bead store vs online shopping-there's just no comparing the two. To see the actual color, the weight, the craftmanship, the finish, etc... so far better than shopping for beads & beading supplies online! That's part of the whole exciting process for me, too!