Purebeads is a home-based retail business. It is a sole-proprietorship, meaning that it is a one-person business. I run it out of an office in my apartment. Beads are small items, so they do not require much storage space. That being said, I keep the beads in two large metal shelving units in my office, in a bookcase, and in boxes all over the floor. I carry mainly Czech beads because they are well made yet fairly inexpensive. Despite being a very small business, searches on the internet have shown that my prices are competitive.
At the present time, I do not carry anything but glass beads, a few ceramic beads, a few hematite beads, and a few findings. When I lived in New York City, I carried semi-precious stones. However, now that I am in Rhode Island, I carry few of them because there is no way for me to see their quality before I purchase them. (I now purchase all my products by mail.) I don't carry many findings. The problem with findings is that there are so many types that I could not carry a complete selection without cutting back on my bead purchases.
About the Proprietor
I am a 65-year-old single man. I love poetry and have tried for years to write good poetry, but without much success (according to the people who read it). I'm concerned about the environment, justice, racial equality, and the fair distribution of wealth. I worked as a legal secretary and word-processing operator for more than 25 years. In the mid-1980's I designed jewelry, most of which was (I admit) sold by my mother in the cafeteria of her company. When my mother retired, the jewelry business dried up. That was before the internet.
I have loved colorful jewelry since I was small. When I was a boy, I remember buying my mother a multi-colored rhinestone brooch which I thought was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She made a show of wearing it out one evening, but I'm quite sure she slipped it into her purse as soon as she was out the door. It was very gaudy.
In mid-2002 I took a job with a demanding boss who criticized me no matter how hard I worked (that's a story in itself!). I asked him if I could take a 30-minute lunch hour instead of a 60-minute lunch hour, the idea being to shorten my work day, and he said no. So I had to find something to do on that lunch hour. The office was situated five blocks from the costume-jewelry district and five blocks from the fine-jewelry district (in New York City). On my lunch hours I found myself looking at beads and thinking about my previous experience as a jewelry designer. Before long, I was returning to the office ten minutes late with bags of beads in my hands! I realized at that time that I just didn't have the creative juices any more to design jewelry, so I started selling the beads on eBay, and thus my business was born.
I stayed on eBay for only a year or two. eBay raises their auction rates every January; and after two years of rate hikes, I said enough and stopped posting auctions there. Fortunately I had the prescience right at the beginning to secure my domain name and open my site, so my site was ready to go when I left eBay.
I'm what you might call a "reluctant retailer". I buy beads for X amount of money and sell them for 2 times X (or more). It almost seems dishonest. Why, I wonder, shouldn't I just tell people where to get the beads themselves at wholesale prices? When I first started doing this, the retail business seemed like a big scam, but then I realized that retail has its place. Most people don't want to buy beads in wholesale quantities, and most wholesalers don't want to sell small quantities to the public – and thus a middleman is needed. If my markup, as a retailer, is high, there is a reason for that: It takes much more work to sell small quantities of beads to the public than it does to sell large quantities to other businesses, as wholesalers do. Retailers charge a high markup because of the work involved.
My Philosophy as a Seller
I try to make the buying experience as pleasant as possible for my customers. I know how annoying it is to get defective beads, to get beads which were misrepresented or don't match the picture, and to have to pay for return shipping. That's why:
(1) I do my best to post good pictures.
(2) I state the condition of the beads clearly on the site.
(3) I have low shipping charges.
(4) If more than 5% of the beads are defective, I reduce the price or eliminate the defective beads before shipping.
(5) I do not have a restocking fee if beads are returned within 30 days.
(6) I pay for return shipping and give you a refund of your original shipping charge if you feel that my pictures don't represent the beads accurately.
It is easy to be a good seller when your product is beads. Beads are small and inexpensive to ship. They rarely get damaged in the mail, and few people bother to return them when they aren't happy with them. Given how easy it is to be a good bead-seller, I wonder why more sellers don't have customer-friendly policies.
My Bead Choices
I tend to focus on machine-made beads rather than hand-made beads. There are several reasons for this: first, they are less expensive. Second, there is great consistency from one bead to the next, unlike lampwork or semiprecious beads. The Czech Republic is the leading manufacturer of glass beads these days. With the exception of individual lampwork craftsmen, very few beads are being manufactured in the United States. Czech beads are attractive and cheap. Beads are also made in China, India, Japan, Italy and Austria. Italian ("Venetian") beads are very expensive. Indian beads should be less expensive than Czech beads, but they aren't, and they are not always well-made. Most of the beads made in Japan are seed beads, which I don't carry. In Austria there is Swarovski, the crystal company, whose beads are too expensive for me to carry.
Please note that if the prices for Czech beads don't seem low, that has more to do with the current exchange rate than anything else. Ever since the presidency of George Bush Jr., the dollar has been weak, and that makes imported goods more expensive than they should be.