Bead Shopping Woes

I got into crafting jewelry and bead smithing because I thought that this would be a nice, affordable and relaxing hobby.  I figured that it would help me curb some of my other bad habits, keep me occupied and is an opportunity to channel my creative juices.  And it most certainly has!

What I quickly learned is that all these seemingly cheap strands of beads can add up – and add up fast.  There is nothing like the gratification of walking into a craft store, picking out some matching beads to make a fetching piece and actually feel it in your hands.  Then you do the same exact thing about 10 – 12 times.  Well, it’s about that time that I walk over to the register to check out and realize that my total costs for beads and supplies far exceeds three figures.  I said: 

Me: “A HUNDRED AND WHA???”
Cashier Person: “One hundred and seventy two dol…”
Me: “I heard you the first time.  For real tho?”

And then I look down in the bag with all the beads that I have just thoughtfully chosen with care:

beads

Me: “Oh.  My bad.”  Plastic get swiped…

An incident like that will really make one reflect on the approach to bead shopping.  I started thinking about this and how I can better strategize bead shopping to get the most bead for my buck.  I am by no means good with money at all.  But, I do have some tips that will help you save some green.  It comes down to 4 key elements: sales, shameless couponing, bulk ordering and free shipping.

Local Craft Stores
These would probably be your go-to bead place by default.  In my area, we have 3 major craft stores.  The trick with these guys is to look for the sales in the Sunday flyer.  If you don’t get one in your paper?  That’s when it’s time to go online and look to see who is having a bead sale.   Most of these places will offer a coupon of some sort.  TIP:  Go early in the week to get the best of the lot.  If you wait, you’ll be picking through scraps.  Make sure you picked up the beads that are on sale.  Some places try to get slick.

Ordering Online
I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon.com.  It’s so easy to impulse buy for beads and other goods.  The nice thing about shopping for beads on Amazon is that you can buy a higher quantity of beads for a much lower price.  If you are a Prime member, that’s even better.  A good chunk of the orders will be free shipping and arrive within 2 days.  Evil, I tell you.  TIP:  Even if you are not a Prime member, there are plenty of places that will offer free shipping.  Better than paying 2.25 on a baggie of loose beads and pay 5 bucks for shipping.

Bead Specialty Stores
Unless a bead specialty store is in your area, it will be hard to spot coupons and sales.  I usually think of these places as a treat to visit.  Beads everywhere!  TIP: Take the time to speak to the store keepers.  They are usually very knowledgeable about jewelry making, and if you ask them questions of any kind, they are usually very receptive.  If you are bold enough, ask them to point you in the right location for a great price in their store.

Coupons
Most of the local stores in my area have a coupon weekly that says “get ##% of one regular priced item“.  Yeah, that’s all fine and good.  But one coupon for one strand of beads?  There are many shameless ways to get around this.  This includes bringing your people with a copy of the coupon so they can buy beads for you, and leaving the store and coming back an hour later with a hat on and a different shirt.  This is extreme shameless couponing right here.  If I had my heart set on a couple of strands of very choice beads that are not on sale…I would totally do this.  Don’t be shy – the worst they can say is NO.  Then just say “I’m sorry.  I didn’t know I couldn’t do that”, and walk away.

Some bead magazines also have online coupons with codes that are included.  If you don’t want to buy the mag, browse in the book store to find the codes.

Also, never underestimate the power of google.  You could always search for coupons and codes for online shops and local stores.

With a little planning, you can save some serious money on beads and supplies.  Unfortunately, it’s just like shopping for anything else.  The more you buy, the more you save.  Good luck! ::C

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