Beading is a centuries-old pastime, recreation, profession, religion or obsession. Beads and beaded objects have served as amulets, as trophies, as money and as adornment. Many people derive pleasure from the challenges of color, design and texture; many relax with the slow rhythm of knotting beads onto various cords; others re-create natural scenes and memorable themes with on-loom or off-loom bead weaving.
Visiting bead shops is a significant reason for travel, because that is where one finds the materials, the instruction and the artistry of beaded jewelry-making.
Old beads are being discovered worldwide in archeological digs quite frequently. No one can say for sure when - or where - stringing a found object with a hole in it first originated.
If you are planning a comprehensive tour of bead shops in the United States, you will truly be traveling "from sea to shining sea." Your journey will take you through the diverse regions of the United States: rocky New England coast, sunny southern beaches, the Midwest heartland, Rocky Mountain majesty, the dry Southwest, the wooded Northwest, the Ozark Mountains, Texas plains, border towns.
Bead shops will be found in small towns, in bedroom communities and suburbs, and in large cities. They can vary widely in size, from a tiny storefront, lavish boutiques, warehouses, and just about anything in-between. Most shops not only sell beads and findings, but also various supplies for using your beads to make jewelry, crafts, and one-of-a-kind works of art. Be sure to chat with salespeople and/or owners - not only are they an invaluable resource for information about beads, but quite often they will also be happy to help you with design and technique.
You will see a diversity of beading disciplines: Native American style beadwork, on-loom bead weaving, off-loom beadweaving, bead knotting on silk and other cords, bead stringing on bead wire and stretchy, wire wrapping, wire crochet, lampworking. The types of beads and findings are almost limitless: ceramic beads and pendants; wood beads and pendants; beads and findings of sterling silver, fine silver, karat gold, gold-filled, silver-plated, gold-plated, gunmetal plated, copper and antique copper plated, brass and oxidized brass, pewter, etc. Depending on the store, beads of various gemstones may also be for sale: amethyst, chalcedony, citrine, garnet, iolite, labradorite, mookite, moonstone, pearls, peridot, quartz, rhodonite, ruby, sapphire, tanzanite, tourmaline, turquoise, unakite, various agates and jaspers, and many more.
You will see beads, chain and findings made in, or made of materials found in, the United States, Canada, France, Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Israel, Turkey, Peru, Japan, China (PRC), Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, India, Kenya, Tibet, Thailand, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica.
You will find Czech glass, Czech crystal, Austrian crystal, Chinese lampwork, Taiwanese lampwork, Thai lampwork, Japanese seed beads, French seed beads, Czech seed beads, Indian seed beads, Chinese seed beads, Italian gold and sterling chain, Italian gold and sterling findings, Korean chain, Chinese chain, American chain, American filigrees, Austrian glass pearls, Czech glass pearls, Chinese glass pearls, Chinese and Vietnamese shell pearls, New Zealand's paua shell, African sand-cast beads, African bronze pendants, African kazuri beads, African fair-trade beadwork, Indian silver, vermeil and other metal beads and findings, Thai marcasite, Thai sterling, Thai Hill Tribe Silver, Tibetan silver, Peruvian ceramic charms, etc.
- The Wild Bead & Boutique, 2020 Clubview Street, Montgomery, AL 36106, ☎ +1 334 356-WILD (9453).
- AZ Bead Depot, 260 W. Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85120, ☎ +1 480 983-5674.
- Knit 1 Bead 2, 301 Main St., Jerome, AZ 86331, ☎ +1 928 634-7236.
- Dragonfly Bead Company, P.O. Box 1461, Roseville California, CA 95678.
- Glitzy Glass Studio, Murrieta California, ☎ +1 951 239-0519. fine lampwork beads, created by DeMarie
- Brea Bead Works, 1027 E. Imperial Hwy., Unit D5, Brea, CA 92821, ☎ +1 714 671-9976.
- Beads Etc., 80 W. Bullard, #106, Clovis, CA 93612, ☎ +1 559 297-8526.
- Out On A Whim, 121 E. Cotati Ave., Cotati, CA 94931, ☎ +1 707 664-8343.
- Kiowa Rose, 37581 Niles Blvd., Fremont, CA 94536, ☎ +1 510 794-7465.
- Beads of Marin, 8 Locust Ave., Mill Valley, CA 94941, ☎ +1 415 381-4364.
- Bead Island Inc., 25359 Madison Ave., Suite #108, Murrieta, CA 92562, ☎ +1 951 461-1071.
- The Bead Boutique, 913 Lithia Pinecrest Road, Brandon, FL 33511, ☎ +1 813 662-9900.
- My Bead Gallery, 3671 S. Access Road, Englewood, FL 34224, ☎ +1 941 460-8800.
- Bead All About It, 2441 NW 43rd St., Suite 19, Gainesville, FL 32606, ☎ +1 352 375-8198.
- River City Beads, 1615 W. University Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32217, ☎ +1 904 731-2111.
- Bead Boutique, 8847 SW 132nd Street, Miami, FL 33176, ☎ +1 305 378-4129.
- Bijoux Design Creations Inc., 4776 SW 72 Avenue, Miami, FL 33155, ☎ +1 305 740-3442.
- Anderson's Bead Room, 24600 Sandhill Blvd, Port Charlotte, FL 33983, ☎ +1 941 764-6222.
- Bead Me Up, LLC, 127 Vista Circle, Macon, GA 31204, ☎ +1 478 742-4247.
- The Beadcage, Inc., 6401 Whitesville Rd., Suite 300, Columbus, GA 31904 (Located near Callaway Gardens, one hour from the Atlanta Airport), ☎ +1 706 221-4438.
- Bead It! Kaimuki (Honolulu), 1152 Koko Head Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816, ☎ +1 808 734-1182.
- Bead It! Kailua, 629 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI 96734, ☎ +1 808 263-1182.
- Bead It! Kapolei, 590 Farrington Hwy, Kapolei, HI 96707, ☎ +1 808 674-1192.
- Adelia's Closet, 9227 Waukegan Rd., Morton Grove, IL 60053, ☎ +1 847 966-2323.
- La Bead, Oh!, 1500 S. 6th St., Springfield, IL 62704, ☎ +1 217 544-8473.
- Beads Amore (Fishers), 116th & Allisonville Rd, Fishers, IN 46038, ☎ +1 317 849-2323.
- Beads Amore (Indianapolis), 3834 E. 82nd St, Indianapolis, IN 46240, ☎ +1 317 595-0144.
- Bead Emporium of Cape Cod, 551 Main St., Hyannis, MA 02601, ☎ +1 508 790-0005.
- Bead Gallery Inc., 520 Franklin Street, Melrose, MA, 02176, ☎ +1 781 665-0400.
- Colorful Creations Bead Company, Harkness Ave, East Longmeadow MA 01028.
- Bead Culture, 180 W. Michigan Ave., Jackson, MI 49201, ☎ +1 517 841-9173.
- Bead Quest, 4230 29th Street, SE, Kentwood, MI 49512, ☎ +1 616 726-5908.
- Stormcloud Trading Co. (Beadstorm), 725 Snelling Ave. North, Saint Paul, MN 55104, ☎ +1 651 645-0343.
- Glasshopper Studio LLC, 13011 Olive Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63141, ☎ +1 314 205-0220.
- Lady Bug Beads, 7616 Big Bend Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63119, ☎ +1 314 644-6140.
- Lotus Beads, 155 Delaware Ave., Delmar, NY 12054, ☎ +1 518 439-2323.
- Sandaga a div. of Bhens Products Inc., 1231 Broadway, street level, NY, NY 10001, ☎ +1 212 532-6820.
- Beads 'N Things, 50 State St., Pittsford (Rochester), NY 14534, ☎ +1 585 586-7230.
- The Bead Room, 3321 Guess Rd., Durham, NC 27705, ☎ +1 919 479-0222.
- NC Wholesale Beads, Durham, NC 27722, ☎ +1 919 479-0222. Carries a large selection of Gemstones, Freshwater Pearls, Tools, Gold Filled Beads and Noodles, Displays, jewelry making supplies and more. Online shopping 24/7.
- Ornamentea, 509 North West St., Raleigh, NC 27603, ☎ +1 919 834-6260.
- Panopolie, 6320 Capital Blvd., Raleigh, NC 27616, ☎ +1 919 872-4767.
- Cindale Beads, 150-B South Equity Drive, Smithfield, NC 27577, ☎ +1 919 934-2900.
- Dragonfly Bead Company, 1920 Ste E Smythewyck Drive., Greenville NC (located near Bells Fork near intersection of Arlington Blvd and Fire Tower Road), ☎ +1 252 754-2323.
- A Place To Bead, 814 S College Rd., Wilmington NC 28403, ☎ +1 910 799-2928.
- Beads 'N More, 1809 Lincoln Way, E., Massillon, OH 44646, ☎ +1 330 834-1981, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- OhioBeads.com, 3116 W. US Hwy 22 and 3, Suite C-300, Maineville, OH 45039, ☎ +1 513 770-5564, e-mail: email@example.com. Shop Online 24/7.
- Reed's Beads, 32 N. Main St., Ambler, PA 19002, ☎ +1 215 540-5585.
- The Potomac Bead Company, 167 Bridge St., Phoenixville, PA 19460, ☎ +1 610 415-9991.
- Bead Oasis, 1425 FM 802 Suite N, Brownsville, TX 78521, ☎ +1 956 541-3488.
- Splendor In The Glass, 1900 Abrams Pkwy., Dallas, TX 75214, ☎ +1 214 824-2777.
- Artful Bead, 5304 Trail Lake Dr., Fort Worth, TX 76133, ☎ +1 817 294-2903.
- Beads & More, 215 Water St., Kerrville, TX. 78028, ☎ +1 830 896-9107.
- Beadoholique, 8220 Louetta #124., Spring, TX 77379, ☎ +1 281 257-0510.
- Bead on Beads, 11538 Harry Hines Blvd STE C1., Dallas, TX 77229, ☎ +1 972 241-5868.
- Plumb Alley Beads and Gifts, 266 W Main St, Abingdon, VA 24210, ☎ +1 276 628-2420.
- The Bead Cottage, 5278 Fairfield Shopping Center, Virginia Beach, VA 23464, ☎ +1 757 495-6402.
- Beadworld (Kirkland), 110 Central Way, Kirkland, WA 98033, ☎ +1 425 827-4808.
- Shipwreck Beads, 8560 Commerce Place Dr NE, Lacey, WA 98516, toll-free: +1-800-950-4232.
- Alexander's Bead Bazaar, 6307 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle, WA 981115, ☎ +1 206 526-8909.
- Beadworld (Seattle), 9520 Roosevelt Way, Seattle, WA 98115, ☎ +1 206 523-0530.
- Fusion Beads, 3830 Stone Way North, Seattle, WA 98103, ☎ +1 206 782-4595.
- Fireweed Bead Company, 915 SW 152nd St, Seattle, WA 98166, ☎ +1 206 444-0011.
- Kimdoly Beads at English Bay, 909 Denman St., Vancouver, BC, ☎ +1 604 683-6323. Semi-precious stone beads in strands, findings, tools, classes and more.
- Bedrock Supply Ltd., 9435-63 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T6E0G2, ☎ +1 780 434-2040, toll-free: +1-800-661-3988.
- BeadedLily - Florence, Italy (An inspiring array of unique, Italian beading supples, designer jewelry, Tubular Wire Mesh Ribbons and more.), Via Toscanella 33R, Florence, Italy 50125, ☎ +39 055 239 9182.
- BeadedLily Glass Works - Florence, Italy, Via Toscanella 33R Florence, Italy 50125 (The Oltrarno District - 5 minutes from Ponte Vecchio at the corner of Via Toscanella & Via Dei Veluti), ☎ +39 055 239 9182. Beginner and Intermediate Beadmaking Courses.
- Crystal and Glass Beads, Wales, United Kingdom, ☎ +44 1792 524967. Jewellery making course information and beading supplies.
- The Beadstalk, Swansea, United Kingdom, fax: +44 1792 680066. Gemstones, Swarovski, threads and beading components.
Where to stay
Contact the bead store ahead of time if you are traveling a great distance and would like a recommendation on where to stay in their area. Many stores are part of a local Merchants' Association or group where they get special discounts to pass along to their customers and visitors. Even if they can't offer you lodging discounts, they probably have had many guests who have stayed at local accommodations and can pass along any recommendations of where to stay or where to avoid.
It's always a good idea when planning your shopping trip to call ahead to confirm the stores hours, even if their hours are listed on their website. Local holidays, shortened off-season hours, or other reasons may from time to time deter the owner or staff from opening and it's better to be safe than sorry. Also, many bead stores would be delighted to hear about someone coming from a great distance solely to see their shop. They might be able to inform you if there are any special events such as trunk shows, book signings, or classes taking place during your stay.
Due to issues of global supply and demand, geopolitics and circumstances beyond the shop owners' control, you may never see that same attractive bead offered for sale ever again in your lifetime.
In addition, some types of beads that are easier to source than others (such as Austrian crystals), still have dye lots, where the color will vary slightly from lot to lot (much as you may see color differences in different lots of textiles such as carpet.)
Buy plenty of beads and beading material now to make the projects you need.
Check in advance for forms of payment accepted by the bead shops. In the United States, the most common forms of payment accepted are cash, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Card and checks drawn on a local bank. However, not every shop will accept every form of payment.
Classes and in-store events
When planning your bead trip, be sure to check your destination store's website or listing of class offerings. You may be able to plan your trip around an exciting in-store event, visiting artist class, trunk show or some other 'not-to-miss' event.
Some bead shops allow you to bring your own wine or have hosted events that include wine and assorted beverages. You should check first with the bead shop before assuming that you can bring wine – or any other food or beverage – into the shop.
If the neighborhood where the bead shop is located looks safe, then you are probably safe too. Remember that the bead shops serve their local customers, who also wish to be safe.
Tipping bead shop staff who help you beyond cashing you out is permissible, acceptable and highly appreciated. However some bead shops may have a policy against it. A sincere thank you and acknowledgment of good customer service is always appreciated.