I'd like to open a bead shop

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JSmaz wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 11:36 AM

Well, an LBS may be slightly more expensive for some things, but I understand why.  Most of the time it's worth it to be able to go in and see beads in person, not to mention the interaction with fellow bead lovers!  I guarantee if it had not been for friendly people in bead stores when I was first learning I may not have kept on going with it.

I'm pining for a good one over here, let me tell you!  You are much appreciated, though I know some are better than others same as any business (you'd fall into the better category I think).Wink

Jeni

Oklahoma City

ArtFire Studio & blog  |  Gallery 

 

 

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brightcircle wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 1:26 PM

It does indeed make sense! That's really helpful! Lots to think about. In light of your flea market story, I'm scouting around local flea markets and thinking about what local bead shops carry, and how that corresponds to my stash of 'destash' beads that might be appropriate to sell at a flea market.

I must confess that to me, the phrase 'flea market' has always been synonymous with 'big yard sale' where the idea is dejunking, EVERYTHING is a bargain, and nothing is priced higher than $5. However, I haven't gone to flea markets in years, and perhaps my understanding of them is coloured by how I understood them as a child.


Handmade jewelry, beaded beads and more available at my NEW location, bonanza.com/booths/BrightCircle

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LoisB@23 wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 1:28 PM

 *sigh* Deb-- I WISH I had your store in MY neighborhood! I'd do a LOT more experimentation with different types of beads.... but while my LBS has good variety, they also have a HUGE mark-up. SO I can only go and splurge on unusual beads once or twice a YEAR! Oh well. Maybe some day I'll make it down to AZ for the beadshow and make a detour to see you!

Lois

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DebWAZ wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 4:04 PM

Flea markets have changed a lot. When I was a kid, they used to be a yard sale and "dejunking" very transient type venue, but over the years, many of the year round flea markets have vendors who have real businesses with new goods. The nice thing about being in a flea market is that you can test the waters with a minimal outlay and if it works, you can start looking for brick-and-mortar.

People do hunt for bargains, but if you present your booth as a "real" business, with sales counters, register, professional looking displays and signs, rather than stuff tossed on tables or in baskets, it DOES make an impression. I remember a customer telling her husband that she wanted to go to the flea market with the jewelry store! STORE - not booth that sells jewelry! DH says that you have to remember you are selling dreams or the ingredients to make dreams come true!

I always said the canvas walls of my booth were "faux brick and mortar". We treated it like a business. Used to bug the bejeebers out of me to have a customer look at a pair of earrings I had marked at $15 and say "will you take $10 for them?" (We started with DH's jewelry leftovers from the jewelry store he owned in NJ - though I'm still amused by the idea of gold, diamonds and silver being "leftovers".) I'd have people look at strands of turquoise marked at $12/strand and say "$12/strand or 2 for $15, right?" I'd always say, "No, ma'am, it's $12/strand and 2 for $24."

There are several LBS that started in flea markets - our friends at Cindale Beads in Smithfield NC went into a brick and mortar store from being in a flea market shortly after we did. We visited them in July - they've got a nice little store. I was looking at photos of the flea market store the other day - whew, it was so LAME compared to our real store, but it was pretty nice compared to some of our neighboring vendors at the flea market.

If you decide to go with a flea market store, don't give up after a month or even 3 months. It takes a while to build visibility. We would have vendors that would have a good product and because they didn't make $500 on the first weekend or the first month would give up. 2 months later, we'd have someone ask, "what happened to the guy who had the purple left-handed widgets? I need 50 of them!"

We had a monthly contract and could leave everything set up (we only carried the jewelry back and forth) so we didn't have much work to set up for the day. We even had a small fridge, running water, flourescent lighting for cloudy day, a TV with a satellite dish, and an evap cooler for the summer. Besides being in brick and mortar and much bigger, we have the same thing now, except the satellite TV! LOL

If you want any more details about being in a flea market, e-mail me off the list.

Deb - AZ Bead Depot

 

Deb

Apache Junction, AZ

www.azbeaddepot.com

azbeaddepot.blogspot.com

 

 

 

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DebWAZ wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 4:12 PM

Lois,

We've been able to go with a reasonable markup and still make a profit. But - I don't have employees and that makes a HUGE difference. Besides the paycheck itself, there's the payroll tax burden and then you get into benefits like health care and retirement (which often is as much as the paycheck). You can't find employees to work for less than $10 - $15 per hour PLUS benefits. They want weekends and holidays off and expect that their only job requirement is to play with beads. Heaven forbid you ask them to sweep the floor or do something as mundane as stock the shelves!

The other part of the markup is the overhead of rent, utilities, etc. Low to no overhead is why a lot of the online sellers have such low prices. They have everything stacked in a garage or a room in a building and pull orders from there, with minimal packaging and handling required on their part. I'm not in a mall and the rent here is very reasonable compared to other retail spaces. Plus, we have a great location. Mike and I do all the work ourselves, which keeps our overhead low and is why we don't do online sales.

If you ever get a chance to head south to the Phoenix area, please come by and say "hi".

Deb - AZ Bead Depot

Deb

Apache Junction, AZ

www.azbeaddepot.com

azbeaddepot.blogspot.com

 

 

 

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LoisB@23 wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 7:05 PM

 Deb-- so true! My grandparents started and ran a business for YEARS (still going, my Uncle runs it now) and my grandmother always swore, DON"T have employees until you have NO choice! And I do understand that any location has expenses, and that the mark-ups reflect what the shop needs to survive, but at their prices, I can't afford to buy very many beads. I would LOVE to support my LBS more, as I don't want them to go out of business, but it has to be a "special" item for me to buy it from them any more. *sigh* beading DOES get to be an expensive hobby/business doesn't it?

Lois

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vjordan777 wrote
on Aug 17, 2009 7:40 PM

 I recently opened a bead store in my area and I have to say it's been quite an adventure.  I love my store as do my customers and students.  I think that the most important thing in opening any store is to offer variety and unique items while keeping costs low, but don't forget to advertise!  That's very important, but advertising is expensive so look for local papers and other 'cheaper' ways to advertise.

Good luck!Big Smile

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on Aug 18, 2009 7:41 AM

 vjordan777...where is your bead store????

I have been talking to Deb...and Deb...talked to hubby last night about possibly driving out to see you at some point....he said we need for it to be a bit cooler...the heat doesn't mix well with me...he worries....sooooo I am hoping that when it starts to cool off here in a few months that we are able to drive out and over and down and .... lol you get the pic....we might be coming to see you! YaYYYYYYY! I can't wait to see your store....(singing) and go shopping....from A to Z...going shopping...lol. remember that song????? Ok...no more coffee for me!!!!!!!

Have a happy day everyone!!!!!!!!!

Christine

 

 

http://BeadedIndulgences.etsy.com

 

 

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Mikki335 wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 8:06 AM

 Deb....Amazing info!

Some things I had thought about and some I hadn't.

I totally think starting small is a great idea.  I'm hoping to find studio space to start off 2010, somewhere to work (I've outgrown my spare room workshop) and teach classes as I can't teach bead weaving where I teach now....they don't carry the beads. 

I plan on actually starting by selling the beads you can't buy here out of my studio to my students, online and at the local farmer's market.  It won't be a real bead shop, more like a section of one. The advice I've gotten from other bead store owners is to just buy  extra of something when I can afford it and I've already started to do that. I now buy my Delicas 100g at a time and I'm thinking I want to tube them for sale as soon as I get them. I'm looking to install pegboard and hooks in my workroom asap because it would just be easier to design if I can see all the colors without having to root through a container of small bags.

One question....anybody know of a good inventory software?

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DebWAZ wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 4:20 PM

vjordan777:

 I recently opened a bead store in my area and I have to say it's been quite an adventure.  I love my store as do my customers and students.  I think that the most important thing in opening any store is to offer variety and unique items while keeping costs low, but don't forget to advertise!  That's very important, but advertising is expensive so look for local papers and other 'cheaper' ways to advertise.

Good luck!Big Smile

 

vjordan,

Welcome to the wonderful world of LBS ownership!!!! Where is your store located? Isn't it so much FUN??!!?? I love my store, too, and always say, "when it stops being fun, I'll put a For Sale sign on the door!"

You said it about "variety and unique" in a way. I love it when a regular customer says, "what's new?" because they get dragged [LOL] to the latest goodies. As I've gotten to know my customers, I have tipped my buying toward their tastes, too. When we shop for inventory, I always think, "Mary would like that" or "I've got to get this for Laura". But, I think you need the common or universal stuff, too. Things like Swarovski, etc. That's part of the reason we grew - we kept adding what beaders in our area asked for. One request is a "we'll check on it". Two requests from different individuals are more serious and more than 3 is a "we'd better get this". Some things, no matter how many requests, we won't carry - just because I don't like them, so there! It's my store and I don't hafta! [ha,ha,ha] That's another advantage of not being a franchise.

I didn't mention advertising because my posts got long. We advertise in a little handout "flyer/paper" that is at restaurants and businesses within about 100 miles. It's got jokes, computer advice, puzzles, and other articles, as well as ads for local businesses. We also advertise on placemats and take out menus and hardware store and carwash handouts. The hardware store handouts get us a great response because the DH's go to the hardware store for something and when the wife opens the bag - there's our ad! We also have an ad in a little local paper that has news from AZ's colorful history. We used to advertise in one of the local weekly papers - too much $$ and almost no return. The daily papers want as much for one ad as we spend in all of our other advertising in a month!

Our only national print advertising is with Interweave. We advertise online with things like the BD directory (is your store listed with them?), Kalmbach's online directory and my favorite - www.guidetobeadwork.com.

The absolute best advertising is word of mouth! I have a customer that still shops at Michael's for things I don't carry or in an emergency after my store hours. (Even at 4,000 sq ft, I don't have EVERYTHING!) She always tells other customers in the bead aisle - "Don't buy your beads here, go to the Bead Depot!" She's been one of my best "commercials"!  

Deb - AZ Bead Depot

Deb

Apache Junction, AZ

www.azbeaddepot.com

azbeaddepot.blogspot.com

 

 

 

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DebWAZ wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 4:26 PM

Christine,

Hold off until at least late October - we've got a hot spell going that won't quit and no rain in sight! (The weather guys say "maybe" on Thursday, but I'm not holding my breath! I keep telling Mike that I can't wait for the weather to cool off in October Then I remember we've had 90 degrees at Thanksgiving a couple of times in the last 9 years.

Can't wait to see you! Mike will be glad to talk with your hubby (and keep him busy) while you shop!!

Deb - AZ Bead Depot

Deb

Apache Junction, AZ

www.azbeaddepot.com

azbeaddepot.blogspot.com

 

 

 

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DebWAZ wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 5:23 PM

Lois,

Your grandmother would be having a conniption with the employee situation nowadays. I used to be a bookkeeper and saw so many problems with employees starting with payroll and taxes and then you get the drama, too! One of our clients had one of his employees shoot another one - they both wound up in jail and he was stuck with 2 less employees!

Before the thought of owning a store crossed my mind, I shopped at Beads Galore in Tempe. They originally sold stuff at rock shows and were based in the garage at home. Then they went to a small store, outgrew that to a bigger store in a warehouse complex and then went into an even bigger store in a shopping center. Their prices have always been good, but they jumped quite a bit when they moved the last time - more employees, more overhead, it all adds up. Mitch, Bernie, Garnet and Judy at Beads Galore were our mentors when we started. They gave us a lot of good advice when we started - I don't think they expected us to become "competition". When we moved from the flea market, I worried that our prices would have to increase. Fortunately, we've only had to increase prices when our costs from the suppliers goes up.

When Mike asked me if I thought we should open a bead store, my first thought was "Sheesh - bead stores are SO expensive!" I didn't think we would last in our area selling beads for $10 or more each! I told Mike that it might be fun to do, but we could not price anything higher than I would be willing to pay, knowing the quality, etc. We've followed that rule from the start, so even though I have AAA amethyst at $50/strand, I don't have a lot of really expensive stuff - not when you compare quality. Our prices are reasonable and very few people complain. The ones that do usually say, "FMG has it cheaper" until I get out the FMG catalog and show them my price compared to FMG!

Geez - I'd better shut up - this is sounding like a brag fest! It's not - I'm really just explaining my marketing strategy.

Deb - AZ Bead Depot

Deb

Apache Junction, AZ

www.azbeaddepot.com

azbeaddepot.blogspot.com

 

 

 

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DebWAZ wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 5:30 PM

Mikki,

That's good advice - when you buy something, buy extra - especially if you are using it in classes. It is definitely not fun to run out of the most essentiall part for a class - been there, done that and have been "rescue" for others who have also done it!

Look online for inventory software - it can go from free to PRICEY! Think about getting more than an inventory system. If you wind up doing sales from your studio and graduating to a real full store, you'll be glad to have a POS system that is already integrated with the inventory! I don't remember what ours cost, but if you want the name, e-mail me off the list.

Doing your packaging now is a good idea - that puts you a jump ahead when it comes time to stock your studio.

Deb - AZ Bead Depot

 

 

Deb

Apache Junction, AZ

www.azbeaddepot.com

azbeaddepot.blogspot.com

 

 

 

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Mikki335 wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 5:43 PM

 Awesome Deb. You are fabulous for sharing your knowledge!

You've definitely got me thinking.

 

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LoisB@23 wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 6:43 PM

 Deb-- believe me, she DOES hate it! She ran all the payrole for YEARS! Right up till.... about 1985 or so.... when the company really got going. Now I think they have about 60 total employees... not real sure on that, as I've been out of my hometown for 10 years now, and my dad left..... oh..... 8ish years ago. Anyway, I'm glad you've been so successful, AND haven't needed employees!

OH, unrelated question for you or your ex-jeweler DH-- I was just going through some of the OLD jewelry my grandmother gave me, including some sterling silver things.... which are now BLACK with tarnish--- what is the best way to clean them? I've heard LOTS of conflicting information

Lois

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