If you're in the UK, please visit us for a MrBead bag & a free gift at one of our bead fairs during May & June. Our next show is today, Sunday 11th May 2014 at the George Hotel, Arlington Lane, Norwich NR2 2DA. All our 2014 fairs here.
For Free Shipping off anything enter NORWICH in the box at checkout, and click "Redeem Coupon". Use NOW - as expires Friday 16th May 2014. No minimum order, but can only for used at MrBead.com or MrBead.co.uk and cannot be used with any other discount or eBay.
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In the UK, wholesale and retail bead fairs are combined, so anyone can buy wholesale. In the US, there are two kinds of bead shows: wholesale and retail. You will need the right credentials to get into the wholesale shows, where really big bead vendors and importers exhibit. In the States, make sure you bring photo ID and at least one copy of your resale license so you can register for wholesale.
UK and American retail shows are made up of mostly smaller exhibitors, typically very varied. Selling loose and strand beads, one-of-a-kind readymade jewellery, antique, and other specialty items like bead books, storage boxes, and accessories. Most shows will charge a small entrance fee, usually reduced or free for toddlers.
If you haven’t been to the gym lately, drink a mocha espresso latte before you go. You’ll need the energy to walk the entire floor! It’s also a good idea to take some sort of trolley bag so you don’t get tired huffing bags of heavy beads around all day. You’ll also need a pen and paper for notes. Grab a map or list of exhibiters before you go in, you will need this to organize the best places to buy from. Some buyers like to bring some of their own beads to match colours and shapes. It's easy to imagine a design if you can get the colours right, and you may even get a few new ideas to use.
When you enter the show you’ll see rows and rows of bead vendors, all sitting next to one another in little booths or behind tables. Some of the larger exhibitors rent many booths making a huge presence - but don’t miss out on the little sellers, they often feature handmade items you won’t find anywhere else. You’ll probably be overwhelmed at the variety of things to buy. So walk the entire show before you get anything.
Each exhibitor has name or a number which you can write down so you can revisit. Use a pen to circle those vendors you know you don’t want to miss and later beeline to them first. If you're with a friend, it’s a good idea to walk the show solo so you don’t waste time lingering at booths you’re not interested with – you can meet up for a drink later, compare the bargains found, and scope out items you may have missed. Keep moving to stay focused and get through the show faster. After seeing all the stalls, sit down and go through your list. Get yourself some lunch and a drink.
If you’re a compulsive shopper: review your stash and make a list of things you need before you go. This prevents getting home to find you’ve spent good money on something you already have. Bring cash, as many exhibitors won’t take credit cards and you are less likely to get carried away with “real money”! Give yourself a budget and withdraw small notes, as many vendors run out of change. Stop spending when you run out. For those expensive must-have items, a check book is useful with a check guarantee card. Most sellers will accept this payment and you are less likely to overspend than with a card.
If you intend to buy a lot of beads at a fair, it’s a good idea to call your credit card companies to let them know, especially if you are going to a show in another country. This saves the inconvenience of having payments declined. When there are charges on your card from many different cities and/or countries in a short amount of time it looks like fraud. If you are going to another country, make sure you bring a calculator to convert prices to the currency you understand best.
Talk to the vendors to educate yourself. It will help you make better choices, curbing your natural tendency to buy on impulse. Some sellers with online stores may offer discount codes to use on their website within a few days of the show - these are always worthwhile making a note, plus you can choose leisurely when you get home. Keep exhibiters business cards and leaflets together in one bag so they don't get lost - or if you buy, keep in the bag with the purchase.
Many shows offer beading classes. These workshops are a great way to learn techniques and projects you might not encounter in your home town. Bead fairs are also a great place to stock up on bead books, threads, boxes, and other bead accessories which are hard to find elsewhere. You can find where the shows are by Googling in your area - key “bead fair” or bead shows” + your location over say 100-miles. However, be prepared to travel, as the best shows are likely to be miles away. Especially in Britain where there is a shortage of bead shows, although more are being organized every year. If you can't find a bead-only show, then go to a craft fair with bead exhibiters.
Keep receipts in the same bag as the beads you buy, so you know how much they cost when you get home. It’s also a good idea to take a large felt-tip pen to write the price directly on the bag yourself – this is especially useful if you are in a country where you don’t understand the writing. If you are flying home and are worried about being overweight, bring a lot as hand luggage. Wholesale beads will be very heavy, but not bulky: carry-on bags don’t get weighed at the airport! We sometimes carry over 18 kgs (40lbs) on the plane in a pilot’s bag with wheels.
One last tip: If you are buying wholesale in the US, get your resale number printed on business cards with all your contact information to leave with merchants so you don’t have to wait while they copying everything down. To make sure you always have a copy of your resale license, shrink a copy down to a size that can fit in your wallet, and have it laminated.
The largest bead show in the world is in Tucson, Arizona, every February. In the UK the largest bead show is The Big Bead Show at Sandown Park, West London. For the best list of British bead fairs click UK Bead Shows.
Sunday 11th May 2014 - Norwich MrBead Bead Show with The Bead Queen - George Hotel, Arlington Lane, Norwich NR2 2DA
Saturday 17th May 2014 - The Luton MrBead Bead Show - Stockwood Hotel, Stockwood Crescent, Luton LU1 3SS
Sunday 18th May 2013 - The North East Bead Show - Holiday Inn, Great North Road, Seaton Burn, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE13 3BP
Sunday 1st June 2013 - Cheshire Bead Fair - Nantwich Civic Hall CW5 5DG
Sat & Sun 7th-8th June 2014 - Gem 'n' Bead Fair, Kempton Park Racecourse, Sunbury, London TW16 5AQ
We will also be calling at some beading groups. If you would like us to call on your group, please e-mail or tweet Nigel, or phone after 24th April 07576134264.
For details of all our 2014 bead fairs click here
See a video of some of our past bead fairs
Nigel's blog is now fully functional - so please join in at NigelHayMckay.com/blog!
To see all What's New in our US store click MrBead.com or UK MrBead.co.uk
To go to the US MrBead store click MrBead.com. Or our UK shop at MrBead.co.uk
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