Open Your Own Bead Shop

Lisa Crook

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.

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 combination 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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