Hey y'all ! I'm new here, but have been lurking for a couple of days reading many different forums and I have to say this seems like a really great community. The mix of hobbyists, retailers, artists both for pleasure and business, and general bead addicts is a wealth of information and inspiration both. I hope you are all proud of the resource you've all built here !
Anyhow, I have a few questions I'd love to hear feedback on, along with anything else you have to offer. As I mentioned, I've read quite a bit (barely the tip of the iceburg, I see) over the last couple of days, but I haven't found quite what I'm looking for. I'll spare you the questions you get every so often regarding opening up a new shop, as that is not my goal, but I am curious about a few things.
I used to work at a bead shop and have a somewhat unique opportunity to get back into the business. I'm not looking to buy out a shop or anything like that, but join in working with a currently established business. As you are all too aware the econimic situation is financially limiting (to say the least) for us all... but beaders bead on!
So I'm curious- what are the biggest factors in determining where you buy ? The attention and enthusiasm of the passionate beaders in your LBS ? The customer service of your favorite mail-order company ? The convenience of the items at your local Hobby Lobby or Michaels? The specialty items that can only be found at your 'secret source' ? The prices of your favorite online store?
Also, what turns you off ? Is shipping too high? Does the customer service lack in professionalism and accountability ? Are prices outrageous ? Do the salespeople lack practical product knowledge? What is it about certain places that you might otherwise spend money at, that makes you buy elsewhere ?
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I appreciate any all input, feedback, insights, advice (even rants lol) in advance. Positive, negative- all of this information is relevant and important in my mission of improving the business to better accomodate customers. Everyone from the first time beader to experts, hobbyists, professionals, business owners are all not only welcome and invited, but encouraged to respond. I'd love to hear from EVERYONE ! :)
Seg, you twisted bugle you............ OK, I'll take a stab at it all. I used to be in economic development and saw lots of stores succeed and fail. It was never the fault of the prices ultimately, but the store management and staff........very important!!! Prices may have been secondary, and today's economy may have changed my take on it all.
But, I support a local bead shop. It doesn't matter what their prices are. I can go in there and see the colors, see the quality, handle the "goods" and interact with knowledgeable staff. That makes the purchase worth it. I know the quality will be there, they listened to our complaints about seed beads years ago and fixed it by purchasing quality beads.
I use two mail order sources one for wholesale and one for incidentals, both are top notch when it comes to filling orders perfectly and shipping same day or next day and I have my items within about two days. There are no H.L. or Michaels stores near me and I wouldn't shop there anyway, can you say junkite? Chinese beads..........ugh. They have gotten a bit smarter about crystals, but their regular beads are common. I use Japanese and Euro beads and U.S. lampwork beads from artists that can use my dollars best.
Customer service is a huge issue with me..............I just wrote a whole paragraph on this and erased it..........I can't help not being nice to people even if they make me uncomfortable, it is not their fault. But it is like the nice restaurant that we used to go to after doing a grueling flea market in Tucson years ago......we'd be dusty, tired and very hungry. We loved this restaurant where the waiters dressed in pretty fancy outfits, but they were superb at customer service and never looked down their noses at us or looked below our necks, took us to a good table and fed us until we were recharged. They always got good tips and of course we returned as often as possible even though we did not live in town. Now THAT is customer service. Hope this gives you some input. Donna
Great input indeed !! LOL Always loved those twisted bugles since I was little, I couldn't really say why :)
You make some really great points. I agree, the staff of any bead shop is the heart and soul of the business be it hired help or Mom 'n Pop running the show 7 days/week. I appreciate that you brought that up, as with any shopping experience, I find the staff to be either the highlight or lowlight of my experience... unless of course I score a killer deal!
As far as supporting your local LBS I couldn't agree more. I'm actually not much of beader personally, but grew up in a family who ran a LBS which is where my interest comes from. I don't think there's a better group of people one could choose to work with than beaders honestly. I've probably met some of the most interesting, and nicest people in my life in bead shops- shoppers and shopkeepers alike. Like I said- I don't bead really, but I will find myself roaming the isles or shelves, or walls of any local shop I run across.
On that same note- I believe it's just as important for a bead shop to support it's customers as well. Working with your customers (as you mentioned your LBS does) to get the products they want, providing that excellent customer service, and generally forming a relationship with eachother. I've read many posts going both way on this issue and honestly find it fascinating, and admirable what I've read. In the age of a global economy where a bead-addict has literally THOUSANDS of options, the support I see here for the LBS is- impressive and commendable for lack of a better term.
Thank you kindly for the great words Donna !!
I also like jewelry because can let me become beautiful
Reasonable price, professional service is very important
Prices are affordable, service is guaranteed.
while I do shop online because I don't have a bead store very close to me (it's a grueling hour away), I do shop at the bead store and take classes there. Customer service is #1, and for online shipping may or may not matter that much, but getting the order OUT quickly is important to me. Pricing is not as much an issue for me, because I find where one place has it cheaper, their shipping may be higher. As for the bead store, I always purchase my class supplies there, and go there for very specific items, especially during sales.
Thank you to those who responded, your input is greatly appreciated ! I ended up taking my first step and will be rejoining the industry. I'm excited about getting back into it and working with beaders again. Again, thank you for your thoughts- and I hope to work with some (heck, why not all?!) of you in the future and some point !Happy beading !
PS... Always looking for more feedback, so please do feel free to post up anytime !
I sent an email directly to you, so hope you get it. I would like to talk with you about some beads.
Hi Seg. As a fairly new beader, I'd like to add that my biggest concern when shopping is TRUST. If it says it's Jasper, is it really? I'm not a gemologist, so I need the people selling the stuff to know what they are selling...and of course, I need to feel that they are honest with their customers.
Use this, put up an online store, maybe this will be a good business.
works at http://www.shoppingformen.com.au/
Thanks for all the replies everyone ! Good feedback and info. Sorry I disappeared for a while- a lot of logistical stuff to figure out while life got in the way. Still working through it in fact haha.We do already have an online store setup along with a brick and mortar Iamclark, but thank you.Shanks, I don't know if it was because it was so long ago or not, but I wasn't able to find your mail unfortunately. I apologize for the lack of response previously. I'm going to try and pop in here a bit more often. WindyIslandAcres- Absolutely ! TRUST is HUGE !!!! Integrity is an important part of this industry. I've met many people on both sides of that word over the years, and I really couldn't agree more. Not only product integrity but service and company-wise in general.