On Monday, I shared with you my happy explorations of a linen shop in the Garment District of New York City when I visited the wee metropolis a couple weeks ago.
There were two other shops on my “must visit” list, besides the linen shop. One was another fabric shop that’s Huge and Overwhelming and just wasn’t my cup of tea.
The other shop was a bead shop. There are several well-known bead and trim shops in NYC, but I was looking for a shop that carried seed beads, and specifically, Miyuki seed beads. My research from out of town turned up only one shop that seemed likely to have a wide range of Miyuki seed beads.
Miyuki beads are my favorite beads for embroidery, because they have a huge range of types and colors and they are consistent, high quality beads. But when I buy them online (which is the only way I can usually buy them), I’m not always certain of the color. More often than not, I order beads expecting a certain color or shade, and upon arrival, they’re just not quite what I thought they would be.
The idea of shopping for beads in person, where I could actually see the colors, was quite appealing to me!
The shop that I found – and there may be others, but I didn’t have time to explore all the other possible bead and trim shops – was TOHO Shoji, located across from Bryant Park on 6th Avenue between 40th & 41st Street. They don’t have a website.
The shop is a decent size, with an abundance of beads, from seed beads to semi-precious stones, to findings and charms, and and all kinds of whats-its and whatnots used in jewelry making and other arts and crafts.
Unfortunately, the shopping experience here wasn’t so great. The shop was overheated, since New York wasn’t sure if it was winter or spring (and it happened to be spring that day).
But the worst part was that, when I walked through the door, I ran into a solid wall of heavy, perfumy scent permeating the place. I’ve run into this before, but not at this level of olfactory shock. I’m not sure why shops do this. Perhaps it’s to cover the undeniable smell of marijuana on every street you stroll down in NYC? Perhaps it’s to counteract the subway smell in summer (even though it was winter)? Perhaps it’s to “freshen” the smell of old buildings? Whatever the case, it doesn’t exactly enhance the shopping experience. (I’m not sure if this is an every day situation. If you’re planning on bead shopping in NYC, though, and you’re smell-sensitive, just be aware.)
To avoid contracting a headache and nausea, I reduced my concentration very quickly to just the seed beads I wanted to check out. And there is a mighty wall of them!
It’s not the full extent of Miyuki’s line of beads, but it is a great jumping-off place if you’re looking for specific colors of 15/0 and 11/0 beads to use with embroidery.
Very quickly, I scanned the wall, selecting colors that would fill some gaps in my beads. Mostly, I concentrated on 15/0 seed beads.
The prices, incidentally, are not what I’d call “good” – you can usually find larger quantities for similar prices online through many different bead sources.
But since I was there for specific colors and types of beads, I picked out a good selection and headed to the counter to check out. If it weren’t for the overwhelming scent of the place, I probably would have done more damage to the pocketbook, so in retrospect, it’s probably good that I didn’t linger.
The checkout process took forever, incidentally! In what I would describe as the most hilarious checkout experience of my life in the modern world – and in such a contemporary city as NYC! – the clerk hand-wrote the ticket, with each stock number of each product I bought and its price. It took me three times longer to check out than it took me to shop! What heck?!?!
It was worth the chuckle!
It was a joy and pleasure to walk out of the shop into the relatively fresh air of New York City, knowing that I had a decent selection of new beads to add to my collection. A quick cup of tea and a visit to a bookstore put my head to rights and rounded things off.
Two of my nieces were with me that day, and I met a long-time friend in the city, too, so the rest of my time concentrated on them.
The strangest thing about New York City to me is this: I have been there five times. Every time, in that city of millions, I’ve run into someone I know well. Once, it was neighbor from down the street in my home town in Kansas. Once, I ran into a good friend from Minnesota in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Once, it was two guys I taught in high school. They were right behind me in a crowded ferry line for the Statue of Liberty! This time, it was a chum from college who was there to visit her Greek family. I’m not sure how this happens. But it always happens in New York!
I’m happy to be home – back to isolated Kansas, that fly-over state that people on the East Coast have very vague ideas about, and that always garners a Wizard of Oz joke when you say where you’re from. It’s quiet, but it’s open, it’s beautiful, and it’s home.
And after all, I have new linen and beads. What more could a gal want?