Originally posted at http://designsbykatierose.com/blog/support-local-business-buy-local
A few years ago, I moved to Denver, CO. I lived out of state for about a year. When I left, Woodbury (my hometown) had 2 bead shops that I LOVED to frequent. I had things that I bought at each and was very attached to both. When I returned over a year later, both had closed. I was practically in tears over this because I had built a relationship with the owners/staff as well as the beads they sold. In this economy I am always saddened when a small, locally owned business closes. They usually are forced to close their doors because the big box stores are able to severely undercut their prices. Larger stores buy lower quality materials and their prices are set accordingly. Because of the power of marketing, they are often able to lure customers away from local stores with the promise of big savings. Of course we all want to pay less for more. The way I feel, however, is that you are getting exactly what you pay for. With the lower price tag often comes lower quality goods, lower quality service, and no personal investment. I would much rather get to know a shop owner by name, have a nice chat about our mutual hobby, and pay slightly more for a higher quality product. I’ll take that any day of the week.
Every chance I get I buy local (especially beads). This past weekend I went out of town and visited the quaint town of Galena, IL.. While in Galena, I made a point to visit my favorite bead shop there; Galena Beads. My heart sank when I walked up to their storefront to find another business occupying the space. I asked around and learned that Galena Beads had relocated up the street, and I let out a huge sigh of relief. I was not about to let another bead shop go out of business without a fight, thankfully I didn’t have to! I walked down the street and through the doors. The shop was a bit smaller than before, but there did not seem to be any shortage of customers.
After picking out some beautiful beads, I remembered I had a necklace that needed repair in my purse. I approached the owner, who was more than happy to share her space, tools and crimp beads with me. She refused to charge me for the crimp beads I used, despite my adamant attempts to do so. This was an amazing experience and something that is missing when I occasionally pick up beads at a larger retailer. I will go out of my way to get quality beads and service, every time. Just the other day I drove 30+ miles out of my way to go to shop I hadn’t been to in years. Sea of Beads is located in Lakeville, MN. They had exactly what I needed and provided great service to go along with it. I can’t imagine getting the same quality and same service from a larger store.
I cannot always shop local, sometimes I need something in a pinch or I cannot find what I am looking for in the surrounding area and I must resort to the internet, but whenever possible I try to make it to my nearest bead store. Yes, sometimes the prices are higher but for good reason.
Another hidden gem is in Art N Soul/Stillwater Beads; at this shop they have excellent gems and random beads I would have never looked twice at online, but in hand, I fall in love. If a bead moves me, I have to get it!
In the same vein; I am annoyed with the constant invites to Lia Sophia parties on Facebook. I am a local jewelry maker and I refuse to be crushed by mass-produced and unoriginal jewelry. Lia Sophia also does not have the customer service to match their hefty price tags. I love making unique pieces because by definition no one else will have the same piece. Admittedly I do have a current order for 5 of the same piece, but that’s 5 not 5,000, and since they are handmade, they will never be EXACTLY the same. If a customer requests something, I always try to deliver. I have been sent beads that I didn’t pick out and have no connection to but still made something that was true to that customer’s character. I have also made bracelets, or necklaces to match earrings or other jewelry my clients have in their existing collection. Creatively both of these situations are hard but I enjoy the challenge and continue to work hard to please customers. I am happy to let the beads inspire me to make something new every time and hope that people continue to support me as a local small business!
Note: I do not own any of the images for the above mentioned bead shops, they are property of the corresponding shops.