Bead Shops of Britain: #2
June 24, 2011 § 2 Comments
It seems like such a long time ago since I did the first Bead Shops of Britain post. This month we’re staying in Brighton and this time, visiting the well-known stalwart of the UK beading scene, the Brighton Bead Shop aka Beads Unlimited.
The Brighton Bead Shop recently celebrated its 25th anniversary: they’ve been providing for the beading needs of makers for a quarter of a century! Brighton Bead Shop is great for a range of basics, lampwork beads, jewellery sundries like Fimo or tools, and also serve both individual, small and large wholesale.
Their Brighton shop is very quirky, with lots of hand-decorated signs, posters, and generally quite a DIY ethos about it, which I really like. When I first visited, I thought it was going to be more like their online shop – lots of huge wholesale amounts, etc. – but instead it’s a shop that is pretty much always busy, full of individuals and small businesses buying up their craft supplies!
The Brighton Bead Shop will always be my first stop for jewellery basics: Czech firepolish, pressed glass, wooden and bone beads, metal charms, and good-value findings. They offer some wholesale amounts within the shop, with the option of flexibility on what you get. For example, they offer a deal on large numbers of Czech firepolish rounds and you can either buy these in a bag of one colour, or count them out yourself to get a mixed colour bag. Their range of fine leathers and thicker cotton cords are also excellent value and in some gorgeous muted colours.
There is also a big range of constantly-changing lampwork beads, like the large heart pendants above, and some awesome ceramic beads in different shapes and sizes (some are massive!) They’re not pictured here but the Brighton Bead Shop also does an excellent range of glass pearls in some cool, unusual colours (including a sage and dusky pink) and very high quality.
Although not technically related to beads themselves, there are another couple of aspects of the Brighton Bead Shop and Beads Unlimited that really strike me as both incredibly important and often underestimated points of business. First, they offer wonderful, personalised customer service. The sales assistants when I visited the shop in Brighton were friendly, helpful, and charming. The online staff have always been helpful and often gone out of their way to make things easier for customers (like when I requested two separate invoices for one order for my recycled jewellery class). So well done to them for making beaders feel happy!
The second thing (which is related to the first) is their understanding and use of social media. Their Facebook page, Twitter, blog and newsletter are interesting, funny, and responsive to their customer base. They have well-timed sales and offers, great competitions on their Facebook page, and are a really good example of how traditional craft businesses can use modern, social technology successfully. Well done again!
In my bag:
Antique gold round link chain (used in the ABS June challenge piece)
The Brighton Bead Shop/Beads Unlimited, recommended for:
Fantastic quality jewellery basics
Good deals on lovely glass beads of all kinds
Excellent customer and social media service
So that’s another great Bead Shop of Britain to make sure you visit. Next month we’re moving north and visiting the Nottingham Bead Shop – don’t forget to check in and see some more bead shop awesomeness! Have a great weekend, beading or not.