Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reflections Due to a Shopping List

I've been a Bead-Addict since December of 2003.
Not ashamed, in fact, I'd wear that shirt if I had one.

By the middle of 2004, I had opened an online store and started sharing my quantity finds with the rest of the world.
eBay was my stomping ground & I have met and made a ton of great friends and connections.
When the time was right, I opened a retail brick & mortar bead store, Bead & Glass Boutique.
The space was rented in November 2007 & we actually opened the doors to the eager public in February 2008.

The time between finishing the interior renovations and the actual opening of the Boutique was a Bead-Addict's DREAM.
"Permissible bulk bead buying"

I digress......
Prior to having a brick & mortar space, I was a trade show hunter.
Armed with my bottles of water, energy bar, sneakers (regardless of outfit), hair in a ponytail, a cool backpack with wheels, my top-spiral bound pad of paper, pen, calculator, an unsuspecting credit card that didn't know it was about to get slammed, and my resale certificate.
- I'd drive to every show in the area. Most of the hunted treasures were geared for resale.
- I worked closely with the vendors, negotiating real wholesale pricing, not just the pricing you get when you show a tax certificate.
- Other shoppers would look at me as if I were absolutely insane. Why would one person need hundreds of strands of gemstones? Full bowls of sterling silver toggles? and have the full attention of the booth owner?
- I'd keep what I wanted to play with & the rest would soon hit the eBay virtual shelves.
- I'd take a class, maybe two. One year, I took 6 classes. (I must have felt rich that year)
- I got to know my vendors well. Spending time in their booth shopping, chatting with their other customers, even booth-sitting while they needed a break.

Once I'd returned home, prior to allowing myself to play in the treasure pile, my business hat went on.
Everything was sorted, counted, and priced out based on cost.
The next couple of days was a massive amount of hovering over a tripod taking photos (oh my back ached!), editing photos, and making the listing for eBay.
Countless hours were spent on shamless promotion in eBay groups - sharing the newest treasures with others in the hopes they'd have to have it too !!
And they did !
They clicked and they bought ..... a lot.
Nights became longer as the packing & shipping was time consuming.
Lost sleep was just something I got used to - and for a LONG time, didn't mind one bit!
My venture was successful.

Bear in mind I also have a full time professional career, one that carries a tremendous amount of responsibility, accountability, and integrity.
Hence, the marketing, promotion, packing, shipping, etc was all done between the hours of 8pm and 1am.
OMG you say? Yes...OMG - I was a bit out of my mind.
They clicked, they bought, I packed, I shipped, I power-shopped again.

Three years into this cycle, I tired out. The long nights were wearing at me.
It was time to wind it down. Then my fiancee offered to help.
With both of us being entrepreneurial in spirit, we had discussions about expanding this venture & actually making this a real place to shop.
Found a location, did our homework, rented space and almost 3 years later, here we are...

How time and perspective changes everything.......

Let's fast forward to present day.
There is a retail trade show coming to the Greater Philadelphia area (King of Prussia) this week.
This show starts today & runs through Sunday!
It is a retail bead shopper's heaven.
(It is NOT a true wholesale show.)

The difference a few years makes as my bead days have evolved:
- I still attend this show every year.
- I don't buy from vendors there like I used to, as I've now established wholesale accounts with BIG suppliers.
- I don't usually take classes there, although there are some I'd like to sit in on. There's a time factor involved.
- When I find something new that I'd like to carry, I still have negotiations to work out with the booth owner.
- I still wear sneakers, bring the wheeled backpack, lots of water.
- I now also wear an IPod in my ears to avoid having to deal with the massive crowds that for some reason are no longer appealing.
- And from time to time, when it hits me, I power-shop.

So as I prepare my visit to the epic event in this area for bead-addicts alike, I too, still make a shopping list & highlight the vendors I need to see.

This year, I also would like to establish IRL connections with some of the celebrity beaders I've gotten to know a little on Facebook in recent months.
I would like nothing more than to bring them into the Boutique for lessons with our customers !
So I'll put it out there to Jill Wiseman, Shelley Pleines Nybakke, Leslie Rogalski, and Lorelei Eurto -I hope to see you, even if to just say HI. Of course, if conversation turns business, I'm always up for new opportunities!

This year's visit includes restocking some elements that I will only pick out by hand.
I'm also going to stop by some of the metal specialist vendors and pick up where I left off with my personal journey into metals.
And last but not least, a visit to ABR for some fun new glass supplies !!

So...time tells the truth of changing habits.
Onward & upward

BeadFest - here we come!

Now you know why I titled this the Fast & Furious Beader.... Is anything ever done in a normal pace?


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