In the beading and jewelry community there’s a lot of talk and buzz about the Bead Soup Blog Party. It’s an annual event where participants are matched with a partner and they swap a “Bead Soup” of a focal bead, a clasp, and some supporting beads. Then on the reveal day, everyone reveals what they made with the Bead Soup that their partner sent. This is my second time participating and I’ll be sharing my “reveal” on May 3. (Here’s my entry last year.) To take part, I had to start “cooking” my bead soup for my partner. I did make some polymer clay beads to send, but I wanted to find some extra special accents and try to find a really stunning clasp. To do that I needed to find a local bead store. We have a Michaels and a Hobby Lobby here in my town, but neither are very inspired in their bead selection. I wanted to find a real treasure of a bead shop.
Wouldn’t you know, an online friend who I met on Flickr, Joan Williams of Lil Ruby, mentioned on Facebook that she now works at a bead shop in Branson, Missouri. (Wow, that’s a dream job!) And I was thrilled to hear that there is a local bead store that I can visit. Branson is about 40 miles from me, so I did need a bit of planning to get there. As it happens, this week is spring break at my daughter’s school and she flew from Branson to Chicago to see her dad. It didn’t take me more than 30 seconds to realize that I could drop my daughter at the airport and then go shopping at this bead shop!
Plum Bazaar is at 123 E Main Street in Branson, Missouri. It’s right in the heart of downtown, within mere feet of the famous Branson Landing. I found it right away because it’s painted bright plum purple, of course. The store itself is jam-packed full of beads, jewelry, findings, samples, stringing materials, projects, and fun! I was immediately stunned by the quality of the offerings. There were the usual strands of Czech beads and pearls, little bags of findings, and displays of tools covering every surface and every wall. But I was also thrilled to find many cabinets with drawers full of unique, one-off, and vintage beads that you’re not going to find anywhere else. I also noticed they had Gilders Paste and Alcohol Inks for sale as well as kumihimo supplies and every kind of wire, ribbon, chain, and stringing material that you can think of. I was only sorry that I didn’t have more time (and money) and I will certainly be back the next time I need more beads. Which will be soon, I am sure. They also do have classes. I’m very pleased to find such a great store to recommend to people who live in the Ozarks. Branson is also a major tourist destination for the Midwest, so if you have plans to visit Branson, make sure to put Plum Bazaar on your list of things to enjoy. Tell them that I sent you! Plum Bazaar also has a store in Emporia, Kansas if that works better for you.[dacallout type=callout color=light]Plum Bazaar is at 123 E Main Street in downtown Branson, Missouri. They’re open 7 days a week. You can find them online at their website, Facebook page, on Pinterest, or in their Etsy shop.[/dacallout]
Personally, I think it’s very important to support our local small businesses. When we discuss our hobbies online it’s very easy to recommend the large chain stores because of their uniform offerings (each store offers the same things). But that uniformity also means there is a lack of individuality. Small, independent businesses such as your local bead store can bring customized and unique services to the people in your community. Not only will their stock often be very different from what you can find in a nationwide chain, but the expertise of the staff is invaluable. They know their materials, they know how to use them, and can teach you new ways to work. They’re invested in far more than a paycheck. They want you to succeed. And in order for small businesses to succeed, they need you to visit them, shop with them, and spread the word about them.
With that in mind, do you have a locally owned bead store, craft store, or art shop in your area that makes every visit a pleasure? Feel free to share them in the comments. Get the word out! Help others find a great shop, and help promote your local store. Tell me the name of your favorite store, the name of the town or area it’s in, and give a link to their website. And let’s share the good news about shops in all countries, too. Let’s give all these shops some free advertising.