March 2016 "Spotlight on Vendors" Midwest Beads

The March meeting was busy as usual. Members were catching up after the Visiting Artist and Retreat programs.

The first “Spotlight on Vendors” presentation was done by the owners of Midwest Beads in Sendik’s Towne Center on Capitol Drive. Alice and Gary, proprietors, have been in business since 1997. They brought along their second oldest daughter Katie and Carol one of their long-time employees.

Alice shared some of their history beginning with how she got into beading – bored and living in Iowa. When she was able to sell $80 worth of $1 earrings (made from plastic beads), she was hooked. By the time she and Gary moved back to Wisconsin, they were ready to take the plunge, opening their first store front in Stonewood Village. Gary’s background in retail helped propel them to that decision. After too many years of dripping ceilings and running outside to the nearest restroom, they relocated to Capitol Plaza where they stayed until 2014.

Alice raved about their newest storefront at Sendik’s Towne Center and the great staff. She listed the many services that make Midwest unique: large variety, one-of-a-kind beads, all of the basics, plus, of course, the helpful staff that is always ready to assist beaders with color and bead choices.

One trend she noted was the shift in how beads are being purchased today versus during their early years of beading. Now patrons come in looking for beads for a specific project, no longer buying every color of a particular bead. She also asked members for suggestions on how to get younger people interested in beading – a problem they are trying to approach through social media. Gary, the behind the scenes guy and chief buyer, is currently taking courses to keep current and look for ideas.

Alice invited everyone to stop by anytime and when classes are not in session, there are tables ready for beaders spread out and bead.
Members were encouraged to browse some of the store’s offerings after the talk. Alice and Gary also offered a free pattern and coupon good for the next visit to the shop.

Alice also unveiled the new mascot for their shop "Alma". 

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