Shopping for Beads in New York City!

I got to go bead shopping with the fabulous Lisa Peters Russ of Lisa Peters Art! How much fun is THAT?

On the second day of my recent trip to New York City, my friends and I went into Manhattan to do some bead shopping between Fifth and Seventh Avenues. If you've ever been to Manhattan's fashion district, you know what amazing treasures can be found there, and we found some amazing beads in these shops!

As we got off the train at Penn Station, we met up with the lovely Lisa Peters Russ of Lisa Peters Art! Most of you know by now that I am a huge fan of Lisa's work, and I was so thrilled that she could come into the city with us today to help me shop for beads. (And she brought along my most recent order of her gorgeous handmade ceramic cabochons, pendants and connector beads!)

Two of my best friends and all those beads! Life was good that weekend!

We started our journey at Beads on Fifth, where I found a fabulous selection of the new Chinese crystal beads. It was hard to pick out just a few strands, but I think I did well with my color choices. It was so much fun to pore over the bins of gemstone beads, charms, metal beads and findings, and we laughed and joked with each other the whole time we were shopping.

Yes. That's a whole wall of Czech seed beads in every color you can imagine!

Next, we headed over to York Beads, where I found myself in bead heaven! I've always preferred using Czech seed beads over cylinder beads, and here I found an entire wall, covered with hanks of Czech seed beads. I also picked up a bag of the new copper-lined Twin two-holed seed beads. Yummy!

While two of my friends went off to lunch, Lisa and I browsed in a few other shops, including Phoenix Beads and City Beads, where Lisa fell in love with some dice beads that she wanted to mix with a couple of Swarovski components to make a special bracelet for a special grandmother.

My friends met up with us again as we were doing some serious damage in the Toho Shop. Tulip beading needles? Yes, please. Beautiful metal stampings? Yes, please. Metal mesh roses? Oh, yes! The Toho Shop was full of inspirational components, and they had a healthy supply of all the new Tulip products, so I stocked up while I was there.

After the frenzy at the Toho Shop we debated returning home so that I could pack and get to sleep for my early train out of Penn Station in the morning. But as we were walking back, we noticed the sign for M & J Trimming, and we decided to make a "quick" stop.

That "quick" stop resulted in some more serious shopping as Lisa discovered a rack of metal sequins – yes, you read that, correctly, metal sequins! I quickly picked out three bags, along with some beautiful metallic toggle buttons and a length of metallic figure-eight trim for a project that was inspired by the trim itself.

Now, we were really done. My feet hurt, my debit card was smoking, my shoulder hurt from the heavy bag I'd been filling up with beads all afternoon, and it was time to jump on the train before rush hour traffic started. We said our good-byes and headed back home, happy and exhausted and full of new ideas!

Win these beads! Leave a comment on the blog to be entered!

I'll be writing in more detail about each of my shopping experiences at each bead shop we visited, but until then, how about a little giveaway? All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog, telling me about your favorite bead purchase, and you'll be entered into a drawing for one strand of each of these pressed-glass beads I got at York Beads: one strand of 8mm green luster mushroom beads, a strand of 4mm amber and metallic copper drop beads, and one strand of these funky blue matte peacock daggers. I'll also throw in a pack of these cool resin beads that I picked up at Beads on Fifth – these beads come in all sorts of shapes and are so lightweight that they will work perfectly with any of your bead-weaving projects!

This giveaway will run until Thursday, December 15 at 12:00 a.m. EST. At that time, I'll close the comments and use my trusty random number generator to pick a winner. (Giveaway is open to international entries, too, it just might take a little longer to receive your beads!)

Have you ever done any bead shopping in New York City? Do you have a favorite bead shop there? Tell us about it here on the blog!

Bead Happy,


Related Posts:


Beading Daily Blog
Jennifer VanBenschoten

About Jennifer VanBenschoten

Born in New Jersey in 1974, I escaped to the Adirondacks for the first time in 1995, making it my permanent home in 2000.  I have been interested in beads, buttons and making jewelry as long as I can remember.  It's probably my mother's fault - she was a fiber artist and crochet historian, and whenever she ordered supplies from one mail order source, she would order a huge bag of assorted buttons and beads for me and my sister!    

60 thoughts on “Shopping for Beads in New York City!

  1. My favorite bead purchase has to be my first: I was 12 at the time, my dad took me to a little shop run by a little native american woman, he was there to buy some leather for something or other. The first thing I saw walking in the door was a wall, floor to ceiling, of hank upon hank of gorgeous Czech seed beads. Dad caught me ogling, and a couple months later for Christmas I got $50 and a trip back to that shop. I spent every penny of it with no regrets, and I’ve been beading ever since! I even still have some of those first beads (I’m 27 now), and use them for special projects.

  2. It’s really difficult to isolate my favorite bead buying experience ! How can one choose amongst all the wonders that are beads..the myriad emotions engendered by each special buying experience? ..hmmnnn.. If I had to really pick out just one, I suppose it would be when I bought a box of mixed beads from an elderly woman in northern California many years ago..she could no longer bead and wanted to sell some of her beauties to others who appreciated their splendor..

  3. An AMAZING box of vintage, classic pieces to repurpose at a garage sale.
    What a rare treasure. Still working on using them, sometimes a piece just calls out and asks me to find something special from that box, otherwise, I’m hoarding.

  4. What a great time you had…..New York is too far away for me but I’d love to be able to say ‘guess where these beads came from :P’
    My favourite purchase was from the bargain basement of The Beadshop Scotland. My daughter persuaded me to buy some evil eye beads and they are absolutely gorgeous :D, especially the aqua coloured ones which everyone falls in love with!! I really enjoyed stringing them and wearing my own bracelet or seeing others wearing what I made 😀

  5. I’ve just started beading, so I don’t have much history to draw upon. I suppose my first purchase would be my favorite because it’s the one that got me started.

  6. Mine was also a first. My mother-in-law took me to a shop in Arizona that was having an amazing sale. Spent most of the day and bought all sorts of gemstone strands, glass and some hanks of seed beads. It was a great start to my stash and the beginning of my “addiction”.

  7. Thanks for the opportunity to comment and win some fab beads! As a long time fan of Beading Daily, I look forward to your posts! I can only dream of ever going to New York to go bead shopping, so I really can’t say where I like to go. I do however buy from a couple of places online, if that counts! If I ever get the opportunity to go to New York (I live in Ontario, Canada), to go bead shopping, I would think I died and gone to heaven for sure! Just looking at your pictures is getting me high! 🙂

  8. I’ve never contemplated a trip to New York…………now here I am drooling freely all over my wireless keyboard…… WOW, what treasure troves you found to visit. I am positive that my credit card would also be “smoking”………….. Thanks for this post, I loved every minute of it, going to read it again too. Donna

  9. I love to go shopping at T&T beads in Grand Ledge, Michigan. They have such a good selection, and you never know what youll end up finding, Of course Im a sucker for the seed beads, but they have swarovski crystal (another love of mine) and stone, and glass, and….well, they have TONS of good stuff! Stop there if your ever in Michigan!

  10. Okay..I am jealous! I have not had the opportunity to beadshop in NYC, but I do recall my favorite shopping trip for beads. My mother had just been diagnosed with an illness, and she took me to lunch to break the news. We were in California at the time. Afterwards, we were looking for something to do together to break the tension and stress, and we ran across a bead shoppe next door to a fabric store we had gone to window shop. We went in and found out that they would teach us how to make our own! We sat at a table by the window for three hours, playing with colors and metals and learning what went with what, but more importantly, talking and enjoying one another. I still have the bracelet she made me that day, and hoard the remainder of the beads we purchased over 20 years ago. Every time I pull them out, run my fingers over the smooth surfaces, the memories make me smile..and after all, isn’t that what a good piece of jewelry really does?

  11. It has been years (maybe even a decade) since I have been bead shopping in NY! And that was to buy beads for my mom because I hadn’t yet become addicted to them myself!

    But I do remember how amazing it was…and I had my wholesale license at the time too, and was on a buying trip with my sister for my store. She loves shopping but had no idea what was involved in a wholesale buying trip for a retail shop! She was worn out after just one day…and we still had 2 more days and the show at the Javitz Center…haha!

    But we were able to go into so many shops that I normally wouldn’t have been able to because of the wholesale license! And I remember arguing with my sister at a Swarovski wholesale store over the millions of different choices…the sizes, styles, colors…it was almost overwhelming!

    They had these huge table top bins down the entire length of the store and they were filled with Bicones and Rounds of every size and color…and you could touch all of them! They had little tiny bead scoops and little baggies to fill your basket with your choices!

    But by the end of the buying trip we filled an entire bead storage kit with thousands of seed beads and crystals for our mom for Christmas that year! She was so completely overwhelmed and could not believe that we had gone bead shopping without her! Haha! So I took her with me the following year so she could see the bead stores from the wholesale side and that was insane! She loved it!

    But I am soooo jealous of your shopping spree! I can just imagine how much fun that was! And I wish those photos would enlarge when you click on them…I just want to see them up close! So many beautiful beads to ogle! Thank you for sharing this with us…this has brought back some really fun memories for me!

    Now I can’t stop thinking about how awesome it would be to have a shop again just so I could go shopping for beads for myself during my yearly NY wholesale buying trips! I must really be crazy!

  12. Wow, what a lucky girl to go bead shopping in The City.
    I have never been to NY City, although I would love to. Maybe someday I will get a couple of beaders together and head for the City.
    My favorite bead shopping experience was to Bead Haven in Frankenmuth, MI. It wasn’t a long trip just a few hours and we were there, but what a store, I thought I had died and gone to Bead Heaven, instead of Bead Haven.
    My hubby is such a good sport, he just made himself comfy in a chair by the fireplace and told me just to let him know when I was finished shopping. Got to love a guy that does the cooking and lets you buy as many beads as you want.

  13. Going to NYC to shop for beads is on my “Bucket List”! I attended the Bead & Button show in 2003. I bought a beautiful, big horse head bead by an artist I saw featured in a magazine a few months before. It doesn’t sound real exciting now, but I was so thrilled to get a piece of artwork from an artist who had been published in a magazine!

  14. I love this blog post because I”m planning a bead buying trip to New York myself. All my bead purchases are my favorite but I”m particularly in love with ceramic beads – Lisa Peters’ work included.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  15. I went to New York three times. Once with my Mother when I was very young & remember the Empire State Bldg & the train ride. Second visit was with grade school children as chaperone. Unforntuately it was a weekend when it poured down rain. We did not do much outdoor site seeing. The first stop was the toy store. Another great memory. Third was with my husband & we did site seeing. I wasn’t into jewelry making until one year ago. I am looking forward to traveling again but for shopping encluding beads & gluten free bakeries. Beads & bakeries, yummy.

  16. My favorite purchase would be my first visit to a local bead show. I bought a hank of antique silver charlottes and have been hooked ever since! though I have to admit my first experience at the Bead fest in King of Prussia is very close!

  17. I live in Miami, Fl. but have a daughter living in NYC, so I have a great excuse for visiting the city and going “beading”. I visit Empire beads, 1032 sixth Ave bet 38 & 39 St. My very favorite is on 37 Street at 5 W. 37 St. It was called Go-A- Beads but I think the new name is Phoenix. York is good also and New York Beads at 1026 Sixth Ave.

  18. How can a beader possibly have one favorite bead purchase, stepping into a bead store or show is the beginning of exhilaration and it doesn’t stop until said purchases are used, worn, sold or the next purchase!

  19. I have been shopping in NYC for beads and am always amazed with the different shops that I find and the variety of beads that they offer. I wish I could get to NYC for a bead shopping trip more often, but would love the opportunity to win some of the beautiful beads you found.

  20. The year was 2001. My husband was a photographer, and I was his assistant, but I had lots of spare time. A friend taught me how to make memory wire necklaces. At a major craft chain store, I bought some clay disk beads with the image of the head of a space alien in them. I knew at the time that our travels would soon take us to Roswell, New Mexico. A few months later, I sold my alien creations to the UFO Museum there. That was the most prestigious sale I’ve ever made, and for that reason, those are the beads I’ll always remember buying.

  21. I used to live in the suburbs of New York, and my favorite trip was to spend the day in New York browsing all the new and unusual beads that came in. I don’t think one person will ever be able to explore them all. I don’t have a particular shop, but at that time I had a Wholesale license and I do remember I always seemed to find the best buys and the most unusual beads at the businesses that were inside and upstairs, not street level. DeDe

  22. I used to love to go to NYC and shop for beads. I had a wholesale license at the time. I enjoyed hitting the shops at street level, but I always seemed to find the most affordable and unusual beads at the businesses that were inside and upstairs and run by people with engaging foreign accents who could relate the most interesting anecdotes. DeDe

  23. My favorite bead experience had to be at a little shop in Falmouth, MA in the basement of a woman’s house. I found out about it while at a Falmouth craft fair. I called 411 for the address and popped it in my navigator. I almost drove by it. It is in a back basement entered through a sliding glass door in a private home. I have never seen such a beautiful assortment of beads, and in the back room everything was discounted 50%. The woman who owns the house has a seriously ill husband and now that she has to be close to home, she decided to turn her basement into her studio and a shop. While I was shopping for beads, she was making the most beautiful necklaces and telling me how she was doing them. When I returned home from my Cape Cod vacation, I showed my beading friends my purchases and they were amazed at the beauty and the great prices.
    One of my favorite bead shops in NYC is Beads World. I’ve never seen such a tremendous assortment of seed beads in all sizes, shapes, and colors,and very good prices for substantial amounts. I always take a sturdy tote bag (although they give you a fabric tote bag) along with me to NYC now because I know I am going to come home with a heavy bag of seed beads.

  24. I talked my husband into taking me to Chinatown, San Francisco for my birthday.Spent the entire day walking and visiting all the little shops that are in that district. Of course we had to finish up with Dim Sum for dinner. Wonderful day
    and many “little treasures”.

  25. I, too, went bead shopping in NYC a couple of years ago, and found Tojo and M&K to be terrific. Another great source is Acme Beads, which has tons of wonderful
    Chinese imports and a helpful staff. It was overwhelming!

  26. My favorite bead purchase was completely accidental. My husband’s dad and stepmom gifted us with a trip to Hawaii with them. They had pretty much planned the agenda, which was fine with me as I had never been there and was just happy to go for the first time! We were in Kona, and after having lunch at a place with dollar bills stapled all over the walls (forget the name now), we walked around the surrounding stores a bit. And wouldn’t you know, there was a bead store, Kona Beads and Jewelry! Hubby’s stepmom pressed $40 into my hand and said, “There you go, dear!”

    It’s a tiny little shop but jam-packed with interesting beads… my two favorite purchases were some round lava beads (yes made from actual lava rocks) that became a necklace and earrings, and some carved wooden flower beads that I haven’t decided what I want to do with yet.

  27. I would love, love, love to have a whole day shopping for beads! However, being unemployed does limit your shopping. But I don’t want to be a downer. My favorite shopping is at the Bead Bonanza that the Great Lakes Beadworkers Guild have twice each year. We have one in March, the other in October. It’s a smaller bead show, but I love it!! We always have new vendors, and lots of return vendors. It is a varied show. You should be able to get all you need. Lots of seed beads, lampwork vendors, polymer clay, tools and lots and lots of beads!

  28. I don’t know that I have a favorite bead purchase. I have crossed the river to visit all the shops you mentioned, except Phoenix Beads and City Beads (plus a few more). They will be on the list for the next trip. This is truly the sweetest addiction!

  29. Oh my word! Look at that beautiful array of goodies!
    I would ove to go bead shopping in NY – here in the UK we tend to have more modest establishments. :-/
    Having said that, my LBS (The Bead Shop, Edinburgh) is lovely!

  30. My single favorite bead shopping purchase?! My last one – always my last one!
    All joking aside, I suppose it would have to be at Chevron Trading Post & Bead
    Company when I visited Asheville, NC. Thanks for the opportunity to win some great beads.
    Katherine M. in Austin

  31. I consider myself fortunate to live only an hour outside of NYC so can take the train in whenever I need a bead fix. My favorite? If I could only pick 1, I suppose it would be York, but I also love Metalliferous & a host of others too!

  32. Sadly, I have never been to New York but I’m sure they have fabulous bead shops. My favorite bead purchase was this past spring at a local auction. I purchased boxes of old jewelry that I could reuse. Some of the pieces were junk but there were some crystal necklaces and pearl necklaces that I am hoping to do something with soon, like incorporate them into a chain maille project.

  33. my first experience with beading came after my husband & I lost our business, home, everything etc 8 years ago (we had been in business 35 years!!!)..A very good friend took me to a bead store, bought me a book & some supplies and all of a sudden I got myself busy, and things seemed much better!!! That was & still is my FAVORITE experience with Beads It shows how good people really are!!! & now things are going much better… I am trying to learn everything I can about beads!!!…I would Love to have these beads to add to my collection!!!!!

  34. My favorite bead buying experience turned out to be the wrong choice but I am glad I did it. I was looking for 12mm rivoli in sahara and couldnt find them anywhere. (When they first came out anyway!) I was shopping on line and found a site callled, “The Bead Trail.” The site had the sahara in the 12mm and I got so excited, overlooking that it wasnt priced by American Currency. I ordered 9 of them, again overlooking the exchange, but thinking they were like $.98 a piece. Later when looked at my bank statement I noticed I got charged like $24.99 for the rivlolis…I actually called the company. I felt like a “dumb american” !!! Thats when I learned to pay attention!!!! Still have the rivolis and love them!!!

  35. I did the same thing on a trip to NYC about 10 years ago, but bought buttons, not beads. I loved the selection you could find on a city block, and was inspired to knit a cardigan for my sister’s new son, Aaron. Though I’ve been back to NYC, I’ve never been able to replicate the joy I had at seeing so many beautiful things, all together! I do believe I’ll be heading back, thanks for the shopping tips!

  36. I have to say that my favorite bead purchase was my most recent one. I bought a strand of abalone beads at a flea market. They were so full of color ! They inspired me to make an incredibly gorgeous cascading necklace that I also just recently sold, it was my first sale ! But I adored the facets of color in them. Initially, they look black but when you look closer, you could see hues of green, silver, pearl, grey. I absolutely loved them and can’t wait to make something out of the second strand that I still have.

  37. This giveaway looks great. Bead shopping is the best therapy next to actually being in your own studio and creating new designs. ‘would love to win.

  38. Not even been to NY yet (NY City, we travel through NY state quite often :)) – but I’m sure a trip to any bead store there would be charming… On my bucket list with it…

    BTW – if anybody knows of a bead store close to Bloomsburg, PA, please let me know. We travel there often in the summer and I’d like to get to a bead store one day.

  39. Not too long after I started beading, I was in New York City. I knew there was a “bead street” so I used the yellow pages to try to find it. I remember the tiny alley way for a street, and the overwhelming number of beads. I went to York beads and a number of other shops and quickly got visual fatigue, like being in a museum, and as serious case of bead greed. I wanted some of ALL of them. The bead lust-greed can still overwhelm me when I am in a bead show.

  40. I love all my bead purchases. My only problem is trying to make up my mind as to which ones to buy. Lol. That and having the money to pay for them. I did go to an international bead show a few months ago in Asheville NC & got some really neat items there. Haven’t made it to NY but hope to in the near future.

  41. My favourite bead purchase was my first online one,about 6 yrs ago. I was new to beading, with only 1 bead shop nearby, then I discovered the joy of online beads! I’m still excited when an online purchase arrives -I don’t look at the invoice so I can be surprised by what I ordered 🙂 Bliss

  42. Oh my! What fun you had. I always try to find a bead shop when I go on vacation and buy a few beads to remember my trip. My favorite set (necklace, bracelet, earrings) was made around 3 zebra striped beads that I picked up in Washington DC. Whenever I wear that set, I always remember the great time I had with my husband on that trip many years ago.

  43. The last time I was in NY I hit every bead store on my lengthy list – a lot! The most memorable was Metalliferous, because at that time there was a ‘little back room’ with the greatest bargains I have ever seen and the sweetest lady who waited on me. A lot of the beads seemed to be orphans from businesses that had closed, still wearing their old price tags but available for extremely low prices. I went there not expecting to find beads but BOOKS (found those too) and what a shocker! My luggage weighed a ton and I made sure I put all the beads in my carry-on.

  44. I will be in NYC with my daughter in October. I only get to go to one bead store! I like strands and chains with beads wrapped in them, findings…pretty simple ~ I’m from Hawaii~ Any suggestions?

  45. You may want to visit ROCK STAR CRYSTALS in midtown Manhattan in Chelsea at 150 West 28th St, Suite 201B on the second floor between 6th & 7th Ave. Not exactly a bead store (although they do carry gemstone beads), they have a hugh selection of small crystals, minerals, gemstones, pendents, and tumbled stones for making jewelry. Call them at 212 675 30 65 or go to

  46. You may want to visit ROCK STAR CRYSTALS in midtown Manhattan in Chelsea at 150 West 28th St, Suite 201B on the second floor between 6th & 7th Ave. Not exactly a bead store (although they do carry gemstone beads), they have a hugh selection of small crystals, minerals, gemstones, pendents, and tumbled stones for making jewelry. Call them at 212 675 30 65 or go to

  47. I bought an Oleg Cassini gown for a June wedding, that has ornate gold designs and tiny glass beads and pears all over it. I want to get beads that match the gold stitching, to add to the trim on my veil. I was going to order some online, but have no idea how to estimate their actual size, so I think I will have to venture out.

    I live in Manhattan. If I were to go to one store for my needs, what’s my best bet in my area?