About this time last year, we were madly packing - as we were moving into new premises. We doubled our floor space, increased our back office/counting/packaging/shipping area, and added a big classroom, a metal-smithing studio, and a redesigned, state of the art lampworking studio.
Around the middle of the year - we installed a new point of sale system in the store for faster and more accurate checkout, and which finally, finally, talks to our website, which means that our incidence of items showing as being available online, but actually being sold out has dropped right off. Less frustration for all!
We also saw some new ideas in jewelry making, like the embossing tools, Regaliz leather, the Mirrix looms, and the Soutache.
We added over 3200 products this year - all individually photographed and described. We don't believe in using stock photos that show you "one bead," or worse - show all the sizes as the same bead, enlarged. We also believe in supporting the small wholesalers, who aren't in a position to provide photos, or have one-of-a-kind items that you just won't see anywhere else!
We show you actual pictures of the beads - so you know that we really do have them. We measure them and list the dimensions, show you the backs of items, and give you the same amount of information that you would get if you came into the store and handled the beads yourself. Sorry - until we all get robotic arms with tactile feedback - we can't simulate rolling the beads around in your hands! (That would be pretty cool though!)
This coming year - we're going to be giving the website a major facelift that will give you modern features that we have all come to expect from websites - like better search function, more consistent navigation, choice of sort order, zoomable pictures, saveable shopping cart, (and easier to use!), access to previous orders, view status of orders, and a bunch of other friendly features that we don't want to say anything about until we test them!
We'll be doing some online re-organizing - because it's just time! We could use a few on-line testers - if you want to drop me a line and volunteer. ;-)
As for new beads - in the immediate future, well - more Swarovski's. That's a given. I see Freshwater Pearls in the near future. More metal, ooo and some vintage beads that we don't want to reveal the nature of yet. Spoil-ers! And that's just January! Our buyer is already planning her trip to Tucson in February to pick up fabulous goodies for you, and plotting and planning to find the greatest and most inspiring stuff!
So - while 2012 was fabulous - we're really excited about 2013. It's going to be Awesome!
Holiday HoursWe are CLOSED straight through until the new year - re-opening on January 2. This gives everyone here a chance to have some quality time with their family, reacquaint themselves with the strangers with whom they live, and generally just recharge their batteries.
However - we are carrying on our tradition of giving you 12 inspirations over the 12 days of Christmas. This year - Stephanie has agreed to do the 12 days of Christmas jewelry - with the theme of "Bling in the New Year." We await her creations with breathless anticipation!
So - from all of us - to all of you - we wish you a wonderful and happy holiday season, and may all your wishes come true!
As always, wonderful, wonderful things - all over the site. I leave you to explore at your leisure. Click on a link or an image to go straight to the item mentioned above, or go to our massive list of everything, or if that page seems overwhelming - which we freely admit it is! - then try for bite-size portions by checking out these categories: Firepolish, Pressed Glass, Swarovski Crystal, Seedbeads, Stone and Pearls, Preciosa Crystal, Metal Beads, Other Cool Beads, Findings, Metal Clay & Supplies or Books, Kits, Tools.