Open Your Own Bead Shop

Before you start thinking about opening your own bead store, it's a good idea to think carefully about you, your resources and your abilities. You need to start from a position of strength. You are likely to do well in your business, provided you choose the right business type and the right location. Can you afford to quit your job and live on next to nothing for quite a while? Can you work part time and get your business going on the side until it takes off? Do you have good credit so you can easily get funding for your business for inventory, salaries, etc.? Do you know the value of a business plan and how to write one? Can communicate your passion for your business to bankers, lawyers and customers alike? Do have enough assets or money to invest a reasonable amount in my own business? Can you work on a "shoe string" and be great at managing money? Do you understand the importance of marketing and know the difference between marketing and advertising for a small business vs. a large corporation? Can you do your own bookkeeping and accounting? Do have the personnel, partners or resources to fill in the blanks where you don’t have the skills to do the job yourself, and will you be able to afford to pay these people? Do you like to train and manage others and are you good at managing people? Do you always take responsibility for your own success or failure? Do you have a network of contacts that you can use to get supplies and services? Do you have good negotiating skills? Are you willing to take risks to achieve your goals? Are you good at problem solving and know how to set goals and measure results? Can you accept setbacks and keep on trying? Are you willing to work very long hours, including weekends and to forego vacations to get your business up and running? Can you quickly jump from small tasks to larger planning issues? Can you communicate and work well with others? Are you a good sales person? Do you like to work hard and are not afraid to learn new things? Are you good at managing your time?

A few years ago, it was nearly impossible to find a bead store, even in a large city, however today, more and more bead shops are popping up all over the place. Whether they can make a go of it is another story, but with the popularity of beading and jewelry making right now, the odds seem to be more in favor of success than ever before. It's a fact that the more you know before you open your doors, the higher your chance of success. Before you open a bead shop in your area, it's a good idea to find out how strong the competition is. You can get a list of local competitors in your area on the Internet by simply entering your city, state and zip code to get a list of bead shops in your town. If you do not believe that the local market is large enough to support another bead shop, you had better be sure that you are doing things much better than the competition.

One of the tough decisions many of us will be faced with, in our working lives, is whether or not to "go it alone". Should we get out and do our own thing and follow our dreams - or play it safe and stay in the mundane? It's the dream of many jewelry makers to one day have their own bead shop, however it doesn't come cheap. You will have to sacrifice income and lifestyle for the short term - maybe even a little longer, before you know if it's going to work out; but this is the price you will have to pay to follow your dreams.

It is crucial to address and research the following list thoroughly:

  • Advertising and marketing

  • Bead store accounting and suggested software

  • Inventory selection and display

  • Sources for inventory

  • Tracking inventory

  • Employees

  • Making beaded jewelry

  • Selling finished jewelry in your bead store

  • Classes

  • Point of sale choices and decisions

  • Pricing

Research the necessary legal requirements for starting a small business in your area: such as licensing, zoning requirements and employee rules. Go to for more information about these procedures and how to get started with the legalities of a small business venture. It is important to talk to people who are already in the business. Your competitors might not be so forthcoming, therefore talk to ones outside of your area. Many bead shop owners will be willing to share their experiences with you. Visit existing bead stores and make observations. Notice how the store is laid out: how beads and tools are arranged for the customers to see. Check the prices of all the items. Think of ways you might be able to improve on what exists out there.

Obtain space for your store through buying or renting. It's advisable to be located in areas with heavy foot traffic, such as malls and downtown shopping areas. Make sure that you have very good lighting in the store. Bead stores require little space, but that space should include lots of counter surface area. Choose a display system for your merchandise. If you are selling your beads individually, you will want to display them using a system that allows customers to browse and handle individual beads, such as a series of shallow dishes. For this type of display, you will need room for tables on which to place your inventory. An option for selling beads in strings is to hang your beads up on wall units, which takes up less space.

Choose bead merchandise inventory. Consider variety and the need to have both interesting, unique beads as well as all the standard material. Search the catalogs of as many bead wholesalers as possible to compare prices and selection. Set prices. Use suggested retail prices where applicable, and otherwise set prices according to what's competitive with other sellers. Select additional merchandise inventory. In addition to beads and charms, you will need to supply beading accessories such as needles, looms, cords, wire, scissors, clasps, glue, earring fixtures, etc. The more you can turn your store into a one-stop beading shop, the more satisfied your customers will be. They won't need to go to your competition for things that are missing in your shop and they'll keep coming back. Keep your customers creatively stimulated and interested in expanding their hobby. Many bead stores sell beading books and magazines, have craft class nights, and display products that demonstrate what customers can do with the products in the store. Many customers have little or no creativity and need to see a piece of jewelry and then copy it. They need help with color combinations and inspiration to start their own projects; therefore the more samples you have the better.

Always aim for quality and be market driven: listen and react to your customer’s needs. Customers need to feel that they are important to you - because they are! When you focus on your customers and gain their trust, they will not only recommend you but they will also remain loyal to you. Remember, personal recommendation and word-of-mouth are the least costly yet most effective marketing strategy for your business. Concentrate your efforts on a fairly narrow market offering. This means sticking to what you do best and becoming an expert in that field. Realize that it is not possible to be good at everything. By concentrating on a fairly narrow market niche, you may be able to avoid head-on collision with bigger competitors. Innovate your offerings constantly, keeping pace with technological changes. Use change as a springboard to improve your products, procedures or reputation. Innovation should also cover your operations - from pricing, promotion, customer service, distribution, etc. Keep your eyes for new ways of doing things, and apply those that can improve the quality of your products and efficiency of your operations. Your business hinges on its reputation. It is imperative that you build a good reputation for the quality of your products and support services. Remember that two things guarantee success: high quality goods and superior service.

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