Adventures in Bead Shopping and Hunting….Weekend 2, Day 1
Friday afternoon after work I stopped by the last bead shop on the Bead Shop Hop map in San Diego. It’s in Pacific Beach right in the heart of a very touristy area, so it can be tricky to get parking there. Their theme was Cat in the Hat, and the workers there were very cleverly dressed up as Thing 1 and Thing 2. It was very cute and to add to the atmosphere, they were playing the movie in the store. This store was pretty small overall, but they had a nice selection of interesting beads. I liked that they had a good selection of loose beads and you could buy most of them in strands as well.
Preparing for Day 2 +3
For Saturday, I had planned to visit the LA, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties to get to as many of the Region 1 Stores as I could. This took some planning since that includes 12 stores spread out over many miles. It takes about 7 hours of drive time (265 miles for Day 1, 183 miles for Day 2) and that doesn’t include the time spent inside the stores themselves. I did some research using Google Maps and discovered that it was theoretically possible to do this in a weekend if I only spend about 30min in each bead store. All of you beaders out there know that 30 min in a bead store is usually not nearly enough! It would definitely be a challenge, so I developed a strategy and decided to go for it
My Plan was to start driving from San Diego at 8:30 in the morning so that I would reach the nearest store in Laguna Niguel by the time it opened. I would then continue along the coast making stops in Huntington Beach, El Segundo and Santa Monica. After that the stores were farther inland in Agoura Hills, Newbury Park, Arcadia, and Brea. It would be a trek, but if I thought that by sticking to the schedule and hopefully don’t reach too much traffic, it seemed doable.
Day 2, First Stop!
I left on time as planned, and arrived a little ahead of schedule to my first stop, Bead Station before it opened at 10:00 am. Once it opened, I enjoyed their Grapes of Wrath theme. They had grapes to eat, themed water bottles, and even themed bead freebies that actually look like grapes! I spent about 30 min. inside, picked up a few things, got my passport stamped and my bracelet charmed (a beer stein), and was off on the road again.
Their selection of peanut beads really caught my eye. There were so many wonderful colors, I just chose a handful of them. They also had a lot of 1.8mm cube beads, which I had not found in stores up until now. They are also hard to find online. The freebies included beads, findings, a key chain, coupon, my charm, and munchies for the road!
Next Stop, Huntington Beach!
The next store to visit was Beadology in Huntington Beach, a mere 40 min drive. This was a fun store as their theme was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Their free gift with purchase and their make and take project were both candy-themed pieces. They had a cool trunk show with African beads, as well as their regular stock of loose beads, strands, components, and more! I didn’t have time to go through it all, but it was a worthwhile stop.
The iridescent violet elephant as well as the three circular ceramic beads are all from the trunk show. 100% of the profits go to the amazing African women that made them. There’s also a pretty flower bead, some olivine crystals, seed beads, the candy necklace made with real candies, the make and take bracelet kit, free samples, coupons, and my chocolate bar charm! No time to linger, so it’s off to the next stop!
Beadtopia, El Segundo
This shop was in a nice, shopping district with charming old buildings, and tree-lined roads. That made it so much easier to stop once I saw it. With some of the other shops, I had to almost come to a screeching halt to turn into the shopping centers because they are right off of major roads. I was happy to find one that wasn’t! The whole shop had a calm atmosphere and was relaxing to be in. Their theme was the Poems of Emily Dickinson, and their theme game was to play fill in the blank with an Emily Dickinson poem. I’m not a poetry person, so I had no clue about these answers! I very creatively tried to fill in the blanks but it was hard because I had no idea what it was even about. Needless to say, I had no correct answers, but I got a prize anyway! I didn’t actually buy much at this store, but they did have a nice selection of loose beads that looked very interesting.
The “Emily’s Bracelet” was my consolation prize for trying to play the game. I also got a sweet little heart charm for my bracelet, some free TerraCast samples, and my actual purchase of gold tone findings. I was glad to not spend a lot of time there since I had a long list of places to go, but I would definitely go back! Santa Monica, here I come!
Beadahs, Santa Monica
It was actually a quick 28 minute drive to get to Santa Monica, but it did take a little driving around to find this bead store. There was a street fair going on that made direct access impossible. Luckily, there was a public garage close by, and Google maps helped me pinpoint this place, since it wasn’t visible from the street. Once I got there however, I was in awe. Their theme was The Great Gatsby, and it was a good fit, because this bead store was a place of great excesses too! So many beads…trays and trays of them stacked onto each other. It would have taken hours to give the store a proper going through. They also had a fun game to play: tossing ping pong balls painted to look like olives into plastic martini glasses. It’s a great way to get ping pong balls bouncing everywhere! Out of 8 throws, I got one in, pitiful, but I got a small prize anyway. If there’s one thing that I really like about the Bead Shop Hop it’s that everyone is really nice and willing to give away lots of free stuff! Who wouldn’t love that?
I didn’t have the time to get everything I would have liked to, but I did pick up a couple of ceramic hearts that caught my eye, as well as some cool two-hole vintage star beads. My freebies were TerraCast samples, a sailboat charm for my bracelet, amber heart beads, a coupon, candies, an apple, water…I was grateful for the apple because it was past lunchtime by then, and I was getting a little hungry. No time to stop though, I had to get to Agoura Hills next.
Beadiak, Agoura Hills
The drive took almost an hour, but it was the most scenic drive of the trip so far! It took me along the coast from Santa Monica, through Malibu, and then winded through the Santa Monica Mountains. I got ocean views and beautiful mountain views all in the space of an hour! That is a trip I will be taking again, but slower, so I can enjoy it longer. I almost didn’t find this store because when Google maps said, “You have reached your destination, all I could see was a blank wall and some sort of tiny amusement park. I was a little worried and hoped that Google maps didn’t let me down, it had been going so well. Luckily it turned out that I had arrived at the back of a small shopping center that was actually facing a different street, once I figured that out, it was fine. Beadiak is one of those small stores that has so much stuff crammed into it, you hardly know where to start looking.
As you can probably see, the theme is Hawaii, the charm I got for the bracelet, is the prettiest one yet. I just love that rich color! Speaking of rich colors, I found the most beautiful dark purple pearls, I couldn’t pass them up. I also found some unusual Raku beads. I’m not sure how to describe that finish, but I love it. I also got some silver berry beads and some purple bugle beads. This store had a great selection of berry beads which stores don’t really seem to carry. I have a hard time even finding them online. Everything else you see is from my gift bag. Gotta love it!
Creative Castle, Newbury Park
At this point in the day, I was tired, but happy with my progress so far. It looked like I still had a chance of meeting my goal. This store was the last one in the western side of Los Angeles county. It was also the first store listed in the passport, so I felt like I had made some real progress! Their book was The Secret Life of Bees; their themed refreshments included cornbread and sweet tea. I needed the sustenance because they had actual racks of beads, taller than me, throughout a pretty spacious store. It was a little exhausting just seeing it!
As you can see, my restraint left me at this store, or maybe I was too tired to make “practical” decisions–or maybe there was just too much good stuff that I couldn’t pass up. Not only did I spend more money than I should have, I stayed way too long. I had a lot of fun though, and found a lot of great artisan beads. I also found great glass beads in interesting colors. In return, I got many coupons, some good quality crystals, a beading kit, and of course my bee charm to put on my bracelet. If you love glass beads, then this is definitely the place to come! Like I said, they have racks and racks of them including Japanese seed beads in every shape and size imaginable, and fabulous artisan beads too.
San Gabriel Bead Company, Arcadia
After leaving the fabulous Creative Castle, and filling up on gas at a station that was conveniently next to the bead store, I was on my way to the San Gabriel Bead Company. This was one of my longest drives yet at an hour and twenty minutes. In fact, I barely got to my destination before they closed. I only had time for a quick run through, which was kind of like a timed shopping spree. They too had a great selection of glass beads, in completely different styles from what I had seen yet–and so much more. This store was by far the largest in square footage, and if I had the time, I would have stayed an hour or more. I think I did good in the time I had though.
I had to take the beads out of their bags so you could see them. I got a lot of beautiful beads from India, some ceramic beads, a unique Czech glass strand, and a make and take bracelet kit that makes the most beautiful floral bracelet. The theme of this store is The Secret Garden, and as you can see I got many beads whose colors are straight out of a garden! This store also had a lot of great free patterns you could take for inspiration or to make as is. In keeping with their theme, they gave out “seed packets” that included a seed bead bracelet kit, as well as raffle tickets and coupons. I had a great time here and was sorry to not be able to stay longer.
Since I closed out this store, there was no way I was going to make it to Brea after all. However, I was very impressed that I was able to visit 7 stores in one (long) day by mostly sticking to my schedule. Time to eat and find a place to stay the night!