Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Opening

Merry Christmas everyone!

We'll be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day - open again on Thursday.

Then closed again on New Years' Eve and New Years' Day.

After that we'll be open every day except Mondays from 10:00 to 18:00

Friday, 21 September 2012


Customers really don't like coming into an empty shop.

I guess I understand that. There's this worry that you'll get leapt on by the owner, or buy stuff you don't want, or get talked to unnecessarily and so on. And there's only so many things you can do to make a shop seem welcoming without there being some activity to tempt people in.

We're really very nice people, and we don't jump on customers as soon as they get in the door - and we completely don't mind people browsing around and not buying things. After all, we've tried very hard to make it an interesting place to look around. But there's still that little problem of getting people through the door in the first place.

Three things seem to help:

First, there's cleaning the windows. If you're outside with a bucket and a sponge, you can chat to potential customers on the street - and nobody seems to mind that at all. And for some reason, they come into the shop more readily (maybe only to escape the conversation outside?!).

Second, there's having things going on inside the shop. Whenever we've had an order in and are restocking - with boxes and bubblewrap and bags all over the place - the shop immediately fills up with customers, who never worry about all the stuff on the floor and happily skirt around us. Demonstrations work as well - sometimes we have a customer come in wanting to make up an item of jewellery in the shop, and we set up a table for them in the window. That pulls people in.

Third is having lots of customers in already. Customers come in waves, get three in there and another five turn up out of nowhere. Strangely enough, this seems to go for the type of customer as well. One minute the shop will be full of pushchairs, half an hour later it is walking sticks, another hour and we are full of nine-year-olds.


Thursday, 13 September 2012


You'll maybe have noticed from the pictures, like this one ...

... that the shop has all the stock around the edges and a big hole in the middle.

Every now and then we wonder about this, especially when a new order comes in and we puzzle over where we are going to put everything. And yes, we'd love to be able to carry an even bigger range of stock than we have already.

But if we clutter the place up with islands and stands and sticking-out counters like some other bead shops, it becomes a lot less easy for wheelchair users to get around the place, or maybe even to get in in the first place. And that's a problem. It's a problem for wheelchair users of course, but it's also a problem for us - as some of our best customers come with wheels.

As it is, we can fit in two powered chairs and associated minders and it's no more dangerous than, say, jaywalking across Silverstone on a race day. Usually it is a lot of fun too.

It isn't exactly a bed of roses being confined to a chair in the first place, we don't want to make it worse by having you confined to a chair and not being able to get into a bead shop.

So that big hole in the middle is going to stay.

If you're in a chair and want to visit, do come along. So long as your chair fits through the (standard-sized) door you'll be just fine (some of the mobility scooter things don't unfortunately, but there's not much we can about that).


We're on Facebook now.

It's here:

Now, there must be a way of joining the facebook up to the blog and maybe vice-versa, but we haven't worked out how to do it yet.

Generally, what happens is all the day-to-day stuff and pictures and new stock notifications and suchlike go on the Facebook page (because it is easier to do it that way). What we'll do here is the longer posts.

Since we've been trading for three months now we are pretty well done with the business start-up. Probably three or four posts to do to catch up with things, and then we will get onto the nitty-gritty of actually making jewellery. Paul has volunteered to be the guinea-pig for this, just so long as Ann exercises enough quality control.

EDIT: Aha! found a way of doing it! There's a Facebook link up at the top right now.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Location! Location! Location!

Location. That's what they all say it is all about.

We're fairly lucky in where we are. If you can see this in one direction:

which is the Grand Pier and probably the biggest landmark in town; and you can see this in the other direction:

which is a spiky illuminated sculpture thingy conveniently close to where all the buses stop; then you have two enormous advantages.

The first is that you are standing on the corner of St James Street about 50 yards from our shop.

The second is that you are bang in front of the cash machine at Barclays on the corner.

(There's a disadvantage too: If you don't step up onto the pavement pretty sharpish you will likely get run over by a number 7 bus.)

We're about 200 yards from the sea wall (*). That's plenty close enough to get some passing visitors, though we do need to give some thought next summer to having some signs up to send people in the right direction.

We're down this street

about 50 yards on the right-hand side. And one of these days we might get a sticking-out sign to compete with all the other sticking-out signs!

(*) being 200 yards from the sea wall isn't the same as being 200 yards from the sea, not here. Because of the tides we're somewhere between 200 yards and a mile-and-a-half from the sea at spring tide, but "on average about a mile from the sea" isn't all that good a slogan. But we're 200 yards from the beach that's for sure.

Monday, 9 July 2012

New orders coming in ...

Fedex guy turned up this morning with another several boxes full of stuff. Haven't had time to take any pictures of it yet, but they'll come.

Meanwhile here are some pics of the last order that I finally got round to posting:

Pretty polymer clay beads

gemstone chips in Flourite

these are pretty too, but I can't remember which ones they are

seed beads galore (and this is only the round ones - there are two more rainbows-worth in the shop

a nice mixture of made-up gemstone pendants

Saturday, 30 June 2012

More Stuff!

Loud knocking at the front door this morning. Guy with a delivery.

We were expecting maybe a small order of wires or something, but no. It's the next two shipments from China. Six extremely heavy boxes full.

So tonight will be like Christmas all over again!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Backgrounds (1)

Paul has finally worked out how to put background pictures on the blog. This one is a small sample of our gemstone strands, agates specifically.

We'll change these around from time to time. Maybe even to match whatever we have posted about sometimes. But one thing's for sure, no photos stolen off the internet. Everything you see here is in  stock at the shop right now whenever we posted it.

Friday, 15 June 2012


I promised you a post about tools.

We carry a lot of tools, ranging from your basic standard pliers through jigs, winders and miscellaneous twisty things all the way up to devices that would look more at home in a mediaeval torture-chamber. So far, though, we don't sell all that many of them, probably because most of our customers are already into making jewellery and if they are anything like us already have more tools than they actually need!

Plus, if you see all these things all at once, it is a little bit daunting. So here's a quick run-through of some of things we have. We're hoping to follow up with some more detailed posts on what these are and how to use them - Paul has volunteered to act as guinea-pig for this, as if he can work how to use them it must be easy for anyone.

This would be roughly your basic toolkit - a range of plier-shaped things, most of which are actually pliers. We carry several ranges of these, from basic to smart colour-co-ordinated toolkits. The ones in the picture are the cheapest imports that we have, and they perform surprisingly well.

At the top left are some side-cutters for chopping bits of wire up and cutting stranded wire (don't use these for memory wire though, they'll go blunt very quickly). These are amazingly popular: all but one of our current stock has either been sold or stolen by our tame local shoplifters. That's kind of annoying for Paul who wants to buy one, and Ann won't let him as customers take priority. Luckily there's a bunch more coming next shipment.

Bottom left is a set of tapered round-nosed pliers for making loops in wire, which is what you need to do for hanging stuff off other stuff. There's a bit of a knack to using them but it isn't as hard as it first looks. Grab a bit of wire and play around with it for a while and you will get the hang of it - certainly beats watching a 20-minute video on Youtube.

The other two red-handled ones are ordinary jewellery pliers. Like household pliers but with narrow jaws and used for squashing things, holding things and bending things. Also handy for picking up small things you have dropped if you have recently cut your fingernails. If you're doing much work with wire you'll probably want two of these (one straight-nosed and one bent-nosed) so there's one for each hand.

And the blue ones at the right are crimping pliers used for squashing crimp beads on to wire or thread to hold other things in place. It is possible to use ordinary household or jewellery pliers for this, though your squashed crimp bead will look flat rather than round, and there's definitely a bit of practise needed to get the technique right. We can always show you to do this in the shop if you aren't sure.

This beast of a tool turned up a few days ago. It is like a monster version of asymmetrical bailing pliers (and no, I haven't yet worked out what bailing pliers do or why they are asymmetrical or we have so many in stock in different sizes). Will have to come back to you on that one.

It claims to be a bracelet-making plier, though it looks like it would be spectacularly effective for crushing somebody's knuckles. Don't try this at home.

When we have worked out what it does we will tell you.

And this beautifully shaped and weighted object is a chasing hammer. Traditionally it is used for fine-grained punch-work on metal, but for us it is for flattening and shaping wire. Should also be good for juggling with if you have three of them, but again I wouldn't suggest trying this at home, not if there is anything fragile in the room like your head for example.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Open again today

That was a good day off. Open again today.

Later - that was quite a hectic morning. New record for number of people crammed into the shop - ten customers plus Ann & Paul, and noisy with conversation and banter like a good pub. Not, so far, our best morning for sales but easily the best in terms of atmosphere.

We like it like that.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Twelve days in ...

We've been trading now for 12 straight days, and the shop won't be open today (Monday).

We do need a bit of a rest, and so far it looks like Mondays is the best bet, other than Bank Holiday Mondays of course.

Open again on Tuesday.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

More boats!

We have got two more of these things on the way, with between them another third of a ton of stock on them (plus, I guess, several thousands of tons of stuff for other people too). Some of it should turn up end-June and the rest mid-July.

Thursday, 7 June 2012


Phew. That's the end of our first week trading, and a very strange week it was too.

For starters, with all the rush to get the shop stocked, labelled and tidy before opening we hadn't got as far as understanding how the till worked before we opened. Tills are harder than they look (at least this one is). So a few early transactions went through a bit more than once before we got it right. Maybe we'll talk a bit more about tills later (when we run out of other stuff to say).

First day was really promising. Steady stream of customers from early on until mid-afternoon. After that it was a bit more varied, especially given the rotten weather and the fact that more people wanted to be rained on in street parties over the Jubilee weekend than wanted to be rained on in Weston town centre.

But what I really hadn't anticipated is just how interesting most of our customers would be.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Opening Day!

Well, that last 7 days has been hard work. Sorry we haven't posted much, but you'll understand we had other priorities.

We opened today at 10 o'clock and our first customer came a minute later (and no, it wasn't a set-up job). A more-or-less continuous stream of customers through the morning too, both locals and visitors - and we're hugely grateful to all of you.

Here's what it looks like. I'm no longer embarrassed about showing pictures of the floor thanks to Ann & Jenny working until midnight yesterday to get it all tidy.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Countdown: 8 days to go

It's been kind of busy since Saturday.

Much of that time, and then some, has gone in tying little loops on the ends of about 10,000 strands of beads. We naively thought they would already have little loops on them. Wrong.

Still, what with that and a whole lot of unpacking, building an extra counter and hanging things on walls the shop has gone from looking like this:

To something a bit more like this:

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Countdown: 11 days to go

Yesterday we unpacked and checked off that massive Chinese shipment, turning it from this

to this:

in just over 11 hours.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Startup: Slow boat from China ...

Look at this boat. Big ain't it?

That came all the way from China with a lot of our stock on board. And thanks to the wonders of the Internet we could track it (nearly) all the way here - it's a bit like watching a kettle boil, goes a lot slower when you are paying attention to it.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Startup: Oops, we got a shop ...

1st April we went to see the shop. Ours now, and properly insured and serviced and meters read and reported. Trouble is, we now have to do something with it, and all we have to go on is a foamboard model.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Startup: Leases, Accountants and Utilities ...

On the first of March we viewed the shop at 10 St James Street. It's small, but a lot bigger inside than we had expected. It took all of half an hour in the afternoon to negotiate heads of agreement - very sensible estate agent at Mayfair Town & Country, but we delayed making a firm offer for a week so we could consult with our accountants and make sure our business plan made sense.

That was perhaps a bit cheeky as at the time we didn't have an accountant and we didn't have a business plan either! Could be a tricky month.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Startup: Let's open a bead shop then ...

Ann - who is the one with all the talent for making things - suggested that a bead shop might be a good idea. Paul (whose only experience of gemstones came from reading this Dick Francis book) mumbled something that might or might not have been agreement and it all sort of spiralled out from there.

First things first, we needed to get some angle on what things are available on the market and how much they cost, and there was a trade show coming up in late February at the NEC in Birmingham. Of course, in order to get into a trade show you have to be in the trade, so we rather rapidly set up a company to do the trading.