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Audrey Yane, manager of Beads 'n Things, a bead shop on the west side, helps a customer to make a pair of earrings on January 30, 2017. (EMMA HOWELLS | PHOTO EDITOR)

Local bead stores stocks beads from all over the world

A local store that sells beads from all over the world teaches customers how to explore their creativity.

“It’s kind of a comfortable place to come hang out and play with your own creativity,” Audrey Yane, the manager of Beads and Things, said. “And people that think they don’t have creativity, they come here and hang out and do a little bit of something and they’ll realize, ‘Oh, maybe I am kind of creative.'”

Beads and Things, 8 N. Shafer St., has been open since 1990 and helps inspire both hobbyists and professional jewelry-makers create beautiful pieces. Jo Merkle and Phil Berry, the owners of Beads and Things, travel around the world to find beads that people “aren’t going to find anywhere else,” Yane said. Some places the owners have traveled to get beads include Turkey, China, Bali and Morocco.

“They have really high quality and some unusual beads,” Sally Sowell, a customer from Charleston, West Virginia, said. “You can’t get high-quality beads at … the chain stores.”

At Beads and Things, people can also just buy one single bead if they want to and can mix and match.

“It’s a little bit more personal,” Emily Brunton, a customer from Glouster, said. “You don’t feel like you’re just buying something in bulk.”

The prices range from "under pennies" to hundreds of dollars, based on the material the bead is made out of, where it came from and how old it is.

“It really is an asset (to Athens,)” Yane said. “I think it’s because it’s a creative outlet for anyone since we have such a large price range, little tiny kids can bring their piggy bank here and they can make something. And we still have high quality things, so you can make fine jewelry, too.”

Some of the materials the beads are made out of include wood, shells, seeds, paper and fabric.

Beads and Things does not just sell the beads to customer but also is what Yane calls a “teaching store.”

“Somebody that comes in that’s never made anything before can pick out beads, sit down and we’ll walk them through how to make earrings or a necklace or whatever they want to make,” Yane said.

The teaching aspect of the store is something Brunton said keeps her coming back because she enjoys how the owners are “just happy to help” people make jewelry right in the store for free.

She also said one time she left a single bead she purchased in the store after leaving, and Berry came to her work a few days later to drop it off.

“I wasn’t even concerned about it. It probably didn’t cost any more than like 50 cents or something but he went out of his way to bring it to me to make sure that I got everything that I paid for,” Brunton said. "And that was something that always stuck out in my memory. They’re the kind of people that I’m happy to support their business.”


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