Farewell, Beaded Bliss

Today was the last day of normal shopping hours for my local bead shop, Beaded Bliss.

We’ve had a lot of losses in the beading community this year. Personally, I’ve blogged before about losing Bead Stash (a local bead shop about an hour from me, owned by Carole Ohl) and in the wider community we’ve lost the entire Bead & Button empire and seem to be in the process of losing Swarovski. And while that’s nothing in comparison to the human lives that have been lost and I’m thankful to have survived this year with my health, my employment, and my loved ones intact, knowing that Beaded Bliss was going to close has been weighing on my heart so heavily these past few months.

For those of you who don’t know my history, I started working at a bead shop called Beads Direct USA fresh out of high school in 2010. After three years, that shop moved from a retail location to an office space an became an online-only beading website that I still work for. I adore that job and the inventory management and shipping type of job that it has morphed into is a much better fit for me than customer-facing retail and service. But there were parts of the brick and mortar experience that I really missed. I missed teaching classes and having a place to sell my beadweaving patterns. I missed getting to bead with friends and having a place to hang out.

Then my dear friend Terri (and former customer from the brick and mortar shop) asked me if I had talked to Cathy at Beaded Bliss about doing guest instruction for my patterns. And did I know that she had open bead nights on Wednesdays where she was open late and I could work on projects with other beaders?

a selfie with Cathy from my birthday party at Beaded Bliss in July of 2018, complete with kitty cat filter

That’s how I met Cathy, who would become another dear friend and fixture in my life. For the past six or seven years, I have left work an hour early on Wednesdays, grabbed some Starbucks or cheap Kroger sushi and driven the half hour out to Beaded Bliss, where I would stay until she closed at eight. This is legitimately where I got most of my beading done. Every time I came up with a new beadweaving pattern, I would pick a Saturday morning and teach it at Bliss and have my lovely bead ladies proofread it for me (sometimes brutally teasing me for my little mistakes) before I would post it on Etsy. My first posts on this very blog are about scheduling classes at Bliss and sharing what I made at bead night one of those Wednesdays.

Since 2014, I’ve been in that shop almost weekly. I watched Joyce make incredible heirloom necklaces for her daughter, agonizing over every rose gold finding and crystal. I continued my friendship with Terri and watched her become a grandmother. I met the indominable Rose who makes the best Dill dip on earth and her husband Charlie, who takes wildlife photography and gave me some gorgeous photos of a bald eagle who lives near the Ohio river. I took classes from Wanda and watched her make beaded kippahs. I heard about Kathy’s marathons and stories about her early life as a nun. Carole took my classes and always made my patterns in the most delicate and beautiful shades of pink. I heard stories about the time Linda taught a Kumihimo class in the dark and laughed at Tresa’s jokes. I met Maggie, who works with me now and makes my life easier every week. I cried with Annette and gossiped with Lynn and laughed and laughed and laughed with Mur. We drank and had birthday parties compared projects and told stories. I met so many wonderful women at that table (and Charlie and Jim, of course). They enriched my life.

And Cathy and I became close. We commiserated as pattern designers and bead retailers. We gossiped about bead wholesalers and manufacturers and whined about the never-ending onslaught of weird two-holed beads. I watched the shop when she needed a vacation and got to remember what bead retail was like. I helped her set up the Beaded Bliss Etsy shop and Instagram and she helped me be less afraid of wire-wrapping, leather, and super glue. She saw all my new projects before anyone else and was a constant source of encouragement and welcome.

2020 was full of blows for a lot of businesses and the bead industry is not a particularly sturdy place to be to begin with. Cathy announced her retirement earlier this fall and I wasn’t super surprised. With bead shops, it’s always a matter of time and Cathy deserves her retirement. She has a grandbaby in Hawaii that needs visiting and deserves to have time to pursue her own hobbies and joys. To actually spend time in the beautiful house she and John have relentlessly renovated and improved. I am excited for her to have time to herself to enjoy, for the chance to sleep in when her insomnia is bad and to have an actual Saturday off.

I am going to really, really miss our beading clubhouse and the weekly nights with friends. Not having a place to teach is definitely messing with my pattern writing motivation, for sure. But I think what I’m feeling most right now is nostalgia and the root of that is gratitude. I am so grateful for the memories I made in this place and the chances for growth that Cathy fostered there. I’m grateful for my friends and the silliness they put up with for six years while I goofed off and used bad words and told stupid stories every Wednesday night.

Thank you for running such a magical place, Cathy. I am so grateful for having access to it for so many years. You made a very good thing and I benefitted from it, greedily. We all did. I love you and I miss you and I’m so excited for you to have more time and freedom. When it’s safe, I’m going to take you out for dinner sometime so we can whine about Etsy some more and I tell you Post Office horror stories and gossip about customers, just like old times.

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23 Responses to Farewell, Beaded Bliss

  1. Elizabeth (Liz) Browning Fox says:

    Sigh…….I feel your pain, Sam. You’ve expressed yourself beautifully, and I think that Cathy would agree.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous says:

    What a beautifully written tribute to Cathy & Beaded Bliss, Sam. As the newcomer (only two years there), I felt instantly welcomed by the beading ladies. In such a short time, I count many of them as friends now. Hopefully we will find a way to get together post pandemic. I have missed seeing you the last several months!


  3. Carole Ohl says:

    Wow, what a beautiful tribute not only to Cathy and her wonderful store, but to bead communities everywhere. It’s a year of grief for so many things. But it’s also a year of taking stock of the things we are grateful for, and you have expressed it perfectly. Sitting here in the feels. Thanks, Sam.


  4. cathy feist says:

    Oh my Sammy, you made me cry! Beautifully written and so wonderfully describes the lovely ladies I have met in the last 16 years! We loved hearing your stories, being your test subjects for your new patterns, learning the latest Millennial lingo & trends and seeing your latest tattoo! Beading brings together people who might not otherwise have ever met. I look forward to eventually teaching small classes in our home or a studio in our barn. We’ll be at the Intergalactic Bead Shows and I’m happy to bring supplies to west side beaders! Thanks for the memories but we’ll make more; I promise!


  5. Janice Grande says:

    Bead stores everywhere are struggling to survive. I feel your pain. I too, work at a bead store part time and I enjoy the camaraderie of the many wonderful and eager ladies that love to bead. That was a wonderful tribute to your friend. I just hope that we can squeak by and I don’t have to say farewell to my friends and leave a tribute to my boss and friend. Everyone, please support the remaining few bead stores that are still open. Thank you.


  6. Karen Eisenberger says:

    This is definitely crazy times. I am sorry aboug you clsing your shop. I’m a stuggling artist. I under the love for beads. felt compelled to leave a comment. I hope 2021 is going to be a great year. Much love Karen


  7. Wanda Pitzele says:

    I loved your tribute to Cathy & Beaded Bliss. I originally wrote a really eloquent response which disappeared into the ether! As the new comer to the shop & group of regular beaders, I so appreciated the warmth I encountered. Having just moved from out of state, I was so delighted to find such a great place & great group of people. I already miss the Wednesday Open Beading. And, Sam, I have missed you these past several months! Best wishes to Cathy on the next part of her journey!


  8. May I ask what is the plan for all of the products that dont sell when the store closes.


  9. JudyHyland says:

    Sorry to hear about the shop closing


    • cathy feist says:

      Hi Judy, While we’re closing our brick & mortar store for a variety of reason we are not getting out of the bead business by any any means. We are moving to online retail via Etsy but I’m happy to bring beads to our west side Cincy customers or meet somewhere like Starbucks or make an appointment for you to visit for private shopping. There’s over 2100 items on the Beaded Bliss Designs Etsy page and we plan on exhibiting at the upcoming Intergalactic Bead Shows in Sharonville!


  10. Anonymous says:

    What state was this shop in?


  11. Hope Smitherman says:

    I kinda hate this for you but am so glad you have those memories and connections. Here’s hoping you find a way to connect moving forward.


  12. So sorry.. I own Just Bead It in Marshall Mi. Been here 21 years . We did lots of bead shows with Intergalactic and of course Bead and Button for 17 years. We did this under the name of Filigree Supply. Im about the only bead store left in Southern Michigan! I’m not getting any younger!! Lol. This has been my life like yours . It is a blessing to have had those connections like you speak of. I related. We have also gone on line more and more but its not the same is it. Ty for your tribute. It speaks to all of us who love this business. Blessings to your future!!


  13. I’m so saddened to see another bead shop close! I’ve bead beading for about 27 yrs. But last year, 2020 I stopped beading when my husband passed January 1st, 2020 of cancer! I’m hoping to pick it back up and sell my jewelry again! But what stores are going to be left for me to find my jewelry needs! I try and support my local businesses instead of outside the country! Sad to think I will support that and poor quality I may add! I’m happy that your retiring and it was a beautiful tribute about Love, friends and sharing new ideas! I’m sure you will be missed by so many! Take care all of you and stay safe! Thx for sharing! May the Lord bless y’all and be with you lovely people on your new journeys.


    • samwescott says:

      Thanks for you kind words. Just to clarify, this is not my store that is closing and I’m not retiring. I’m 28.


    • cathy feist says:

      Hi CJLDZINZJEWELRY, We closed the brick & mortar shop after 16 years for a variety of reasons but certainly are not out of the bead business. We’ve been on Etsy for over a year now thanks to Sam’s help and have almost 2200 listings for quality bead products with brands like Miyuki, Toho, BeadSmith, TierraCast, Swarovski, Preciosa and more. I plan on having more time to list the thousands of items still remaining in our inventory and am happy to be an online bead shop resource for the creative community. Check out our Etsy page: www://www.etsy.com/shop/beadedblissdesigns
      I think you will find some interesting goodies! Be well, keep on beading! All the best, Cathy


  14. Lori Dawn Weaver says:

    I don’t know you, where you’re from, or even your name but this story about the bead store popped up on my google homepage so because I love beads I read it. And I read it and by the last sentence I had big ole tears streaming down my face. Your article was very touching. You are so lucky to have experienced those beading nights and savor all the memories you made there and relive them in your mind often. Kathy must be a truly remarkable woman. Thank you for sharing. From a grateful reader in Shasta Lake, California.


  15. Anonymous says:

    This is beautiful


  16. Penny says:

    I’m sorry to hear you are closing. I too had a store for about 7 years. I had to close in 2014 due to the economy and some deaths in the family. I had a small investment and used it to fix up an old trailer I bought. Its not nearly big enough, but I use storage buildings also. I’m going to get back into it all by putting mine on a Facebook page and selling there. Theres still bracers out there that need some good deals! Good luck with your future endeavors and God bless!


  17. SD says:

    It sucks to hear about your friend’s bead shop closing. I would love to have a nearby bead shop where I could go to learn new techniques. (I can pick up most things from well illustrated books, but I would love to learn to make loomed seed bead jewelry or wire wrapping and can’t seem to pick it up from a book.)


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