The Perfect Souvenir
Some tourists may snap up T-shirts or boxes of salt water taffy, but when I travel, it's all about the beads. A bead or even a handful of beads is the perfect souvenir–small, not too pricey, and lasting, never shrinking or fading, or worse, being eaten. Whenever I paw through my bead stash, memories of my trips coming flooding back. There are those pretty shell flower beads from that shop in Honolulu that was nearly impossible to find, but oh so worth it! There is a tube of hip anodized blue jump rings from a funky bead shop in Ohio and pretty silver dollar charms–perfect for summery earrings–from California. And how can I forget the pair of copper leaf beads that I bought when I was in Australia last year?
The minute I found out about that trip to Australia, I started searching for bead shops. It was frustrating and slow. What I wanted–and couldn't seem to find–was a nice list by location that I could print off and tuck into my suitcase. Instead, after much searching, I found some random websites here and there, which I scribbled into a notebook.
Once there, none of the shops on my pathetic list turned out to be nearby. But apparently, my beading karma is pretty good. My hotel in Melbourne was literally a few blocks away from a cute bead shop lined with glass jars of beads. Arranged by color, it felt like walking into a rainbow. That shop experience was one of my best memories of the trip. (That and the penguins.)
Introducing the Big Bead Book Directory
Let me be clear: locating bead shops is not an Australian problem! Finding bead shops is a problem no matter where you go. There are many outdated lists floating around the Internet, not to mention shop websites that hang around long after the shop has closed. That's why I was so excited when I learned that we would be creating an international directory on Beading Daily that lists shops, bead societies, and wholesalers. It's not finished yet. (It's in "beta" in geek speak.) We really need your help adding to it, particularly with listings outside the U.S. Both paid and free options are available. So if you're a bead shop owner, a wholesaler, or the president of a bead society, please take a minute and add (or check) your information in the directory. (If you're already listed, you'll be receiving an email in the next day or two with your account login and password.)
In addition to basic contact information, this directory also allows you to add your ratings. We all know that finding the location of a bead shop is only half the battle. The other half is finding an amazing bead shop, one that you'll want to return to again and again (if only in your dreams). Recommendations from beading friends are always prized, but I'm hoping the Big Bead Book will be the next best thing. What are the "five star" bead shops in your area? You know the ones I'm talking about–the ones that offer an inviting place to shop, that place special orders for the beads we just "have" to have, that hold fabulous classes (both formal and impromptu), that host beading contests and parties, and are willing to go "above and beyond" on a regular basis. Take a few minutes and add your ratings to the directory. I promise if I visit I'll leave a few beads for you!
Does anyone else visit bead shops on vacation? What are some of your favorite bead souvenirs? Share your comments on the website.
Coming This Week: On Wednesday, Jean Campbell shares her secrets for creating perfect simple and wrapped loops. On Friday, I'll share a free necklace project. It might have fringe and seed beads or it might have gemstones and chain; I'm not sure which of the two free necklace projects will be finalized by Friday, so you'll just have to be surprised along with me!
Michelle Mach shares beading news, contests, reader galleries, and other beady stuff every Monday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.