What's new in various product categories; monthly
An Eyewitness Report on the Jewelry Phenomenon,
Where this new enthusiast buys, and from whom.
by Mike Hartnett, (December 4, 2006)
(Note: The previous installments in this series are
available by clicking on the titles in the right-hand column.).
For more than a quarter of a century, I have been dragging my
wife, Barbara, into our stores, thinking something would eventually
tickle her fancy and she would get hooked on one craft or another.
If the industry is going to grow, I assumed, we need the Barbara
Hartnetts of the world to get involved.
Finally, jewelrymaking cast its spell and Barbara was hooked. But
it hasn't worked out as I thought it would. The problem? Barbara has
purchased very little in our stores, chains or independents. As soon
as Barbara decided to sell her creations, the math quickly changed,
and so did her buying habits. The less she pays for supplies, the
less she can charge, and therefore her jewelry should sell more
So where does Barbara buy her supplies? A variety of sources:
1. Bead shows. Barbara has bought the majority of her beads
at the Bead & Button show in Milwaukee in June. She has
also attended much smaller shows in Chicago (because we were there
for the weekend) and Bloomington, IL (only 30 miles from our home).
2. Fire Mountain Gems. This remarkable company has tens of
thousands of SKU's with a catalog the size of a mid-size city phone
book. Everything Barbara has ordered has been delivered quickly and
the order has always been accurate. She has purchased numerous
stones from Fire Mountain, but also most of the items she has used
to display her wares.
3. Wal-Mart. No, not from the bead section but from the
readymade jewelry area. Occasionally she has seen necklaces with
beads she liked; the jewelry is so cheap, she buys it, takes apart
the items, and uses the beads for her own creations.
4. Antique shows. She has bought old jewelry pieces, taken
them apart, and used some of the beads. She also inherited some old
jewelry from her mother, which she disassembled and used the beads
to make new jewelry for relatives; that way nieces and grand nieces
have something from their grandmother/great grandmother.
5. Our stores. She always checks the bead department at
Michaels, Jo-Ann's, Hobby Lobby, and Wal-Mart, but something really
has to catch her eye or fire up her imagination to inspire her to
pay retail prices. As for the small bead shop where Barbara took her
first class, I think she has more beads in her bead room in the
basement than the store has in its entire inventory.
A Hobby Lobby puzzlement.
At the Hobby Lobby in nearby Pekin, IL, half of the Blue Moon line
was locked in a glass case, which killed any potential sales. You
couldn't see the stones through the glass and the packaging, and the
thought of wandering around the huge store looking for a clerk, who
would no doubt have to go find the key, was too much.
The products in the locked case cost no more than the other half
of the Blue Moon line which was not in the case. So why the
lock and key?
I told folks at Blue Moon about it and months later we
returned to find the case was still there, but unlocked. I'm sure Blue
Moon sales increased since the case was unlocked.
Barbara has purchased beads at our stores from virtually every
bead manufacturer who exhibits at our trade shows but the bulk of
her purchases are online, in catalogs, or at consumer shows.
The consumer shows are filled with small importers and glass
artisans, many of whom haven't a clue how to sell to retailers of
any size; that provides independent retailers a great opportunity to
stock inventory that the chains do not carry. (At the 2006 Bead
& Button show I ran into three CLN subscribers who
are independent retailers. They were delighted by what they found at
Consumer bead shows are mushrooming around the country, much like
consumer scrapbook shows popped up a few years ago. There's probably
one near you sometime in 2007, although I believe the biggest
continues to be the show in Milwaukee. Visit www.beadandbuttonshow.com.)