I often find myself losing track of time whenever I am in a bead store. It’s not because of the huge selections because despite the rows and rows of offerings, I have narrowed down the stores by specialization and as to where I can find something and where I can find that cheapest. (More on this later..) It takes me a long tome to browse because I’ve learned to curb the urge to just snatch up something without having a project in mind to work with. I have long ago realized that one of the pitfalls of a new hobby or passion is that you become susceptible to impulse buying. That wouldn’t be a problem with an unlimited budget which is not the case with me.
It would be so much easier if I could just buy whatever I fancy, but it’s precisely because I am careful about what I buy that I choose my purchases carefully. I have to keep my budget in mind, and more importantly, saleability. I drift towards the “Sale” and “Clearance” sections where I patiently weed through the mish-mash of mixed stones strung together and being sold at 50% off the tag price. And there are the “fill the bag” sale beads — where. I have learned to pack a tiny bag with as much as I can to maximize the base price.
You’d think those deals are probably worthless given the mound you see, but after purchasing one batch of crystals, I have come to learn that they can be quite a good deal!
The trick is to fill up your bag purposefully. My first bag was more of finding things that appealed to me and I tried to find things in pairs. I wasn’t really looking to create anything beyond earrings, so it was easy to pull together pairs in different colors. I filled “empty” spaces with the tinier crystals. And I alternated filling the tiny bag with the bigger beads and the smaller ones. My only intention with the first bag was to be able to create earrings, so I basically needed “pairs”. I tried to stick to certain color schemes as well because it is rare that I use only one bead in an earring piece.
I washed the beads in warm soapy water and let them dry, then sorted the beads by color. As I only had a small stash that I could fit into the 2″x3″ ziploc bag (which I had to be able to close to make the sale), there wasn’t much. I did manage to create at least 8 pairs of earrings which, if I can sell all, will help recoup the capital and then earn a profit.
A strand of thunder polish glass crystals would normally cost at least $8.00 and over $20 for the bigger beads, but unless you are making a regular beaded wire necklace with an accomplanying bracelet and maybe drop earrings, you will end up with more than you really need. The bead sale costs less than one strand, and you can actually create quite a rainbow of colors using odds and ends. It also enables you to purchase crystals in different shapes and sizes. The next time I chanced upon the mound saw me looking at a huge lot of teardrop crystals. The idea lightbulb lit up in my head and I thought “bracelets”.. I completed a set of of 15 for the focal, and at least 8s for smaller beads which I meant to assemble in sequence.
So now when I head for the sale bin, I look at it in terms of being able to use pieces for a design be it a bracelet or a necklace. Instead of just pouring the beads into the bag until I can close it snugly, I actually count the beads in pairs and seek out the right colors. When I told the store manager how I found their bin so useful as it enabled me to create pieces without buying full strands — giving me a chance to “experiment” and “try a design” without breaking the bank by buying strands of the material so to speak — she admitted it never occurred to them that that was a good use for the remnants they tossed into the bin. (“Remnants” being anywhere from 10-20 beads of the usual 27-50bead strands, and solos which would retail for so much more on the floor.) And of course I made the pitch that when the users found certain combinations or crytal cuts worked well together, they would then be encouraged to buy the full strand.
So next time you enter a bead store, try and look around for the “Fill-the-bag” bargain. I’ve found this in at least two bead stores on 6th avenue, one offering pearls and gemstones, and another offering dyed jade in one bin, and thunder polish glass crystals in another. Remember, it is best to know what you want and hope to create before dipping your hand into this magic cookie jar. It can be magical indeed when you succeed in finding those gems which you can use to create your next pieces.