Monday, March 15, 2010

Saturday At The Bead Stores

Some of our weekend days start with a trip to Fillmore (okay, near Fillmore) to our favorite fruit stand, Francisco's. Yes, it's absolutely worth it to drive 76 miles to get fruit.  We go every four to five weeks, and the oranges we get last us until the next trip. They're fresh off the trees, and have not been in transit to stores through warehouses and distribution depots, as even local supermarkets must do. We get the oranges at the peak of their nutrition and taste.  I have a juicer and squeeze fresh orange juice nearly every morning.

And, at the stand, we get a box with 20+ lbs of prime navels for $12.95. A smaller box of blood oranges that cost $2 a lb in the store is $7.95. Plus their selection of other fruits is wonderful. This week I got some new-crop kumquats that are yummy. They have exotic kinds of avocados and other things you never see in the stores, local honey and free-range eggs (err, the chickens are free-range. The eggs pretty much stay put). Anyway, we love Francisco's. The people have gotten to know us and are so friendly. If we leave early in the morning, we can be home before noon.

Another benefit is that the trip there and back takes us into striking distance of a plethora of bead stores. I almost said a myriad, but today is more of a plethora kind of day. Ventura is right there, and if you slide down through Moorpark and Thousand Oaks there are about a dozen stores, most of which we haven't visited yet. So Saturday we chose two, and hit them after we left Francisco's.  The drive down is lovely, the hills are green and lush with spring growth and the road winds between them in the sunshine.

The first store was Beadiak, in Agoura Hills. What a great store! I'd rate it at about an 8 or 8.5 out of 10, frankly. They have great selections of artist-made fused & lampworked beads, carved tagua nut focal beads, and tucked here and there, some really unique finds. I found more of some amazing glass chili pepper beads I'd found once in Redondo Beach. I bought them loose, for $2.50 a bead for the large size.  At Beadiak, I found a whole ristra similar to the one in the picture for 75 cents per bead!! What a find. I bought two strands, and also got a strand of medium and a strand of small size, for comparable bargains.  Okay, so they're cheaper online, but I think mine are bigger and of higher quality. There are certainly more on the ristra.

This store is just visually rich, so much to see that one trip won't do it. Wish they were closer! Oh, well, the orange mission is recurring, and we shouldn't visit too often. Good selection of seed beads, stringing material and tools. Lots of findings and books, and they've got a large stock of back issues of all sorts of beading magazines. They have a good but not outstanding selection of semi-precious strands, but they do have more wood, bone and ethnic beads than you'll find in most stores.

Since I use a wheelchair, I notice the access. This store is about 80% accessible, with some back areas too tight for a chair. Parking is in a lot right at the door. Staff was friendly and helpful, and they take their time, which is great if you're the first customer in line. Otherwise, prepare to wait. This has its downside, as you keep finding things to buy while in line!  I found some flip-top storage tubes for my seedbeads at a reasonable price, in a large selection of sizes. This is not something you see every day.  

I know I've missed a lot of what they have, but I'll certainly go back. 

Next up was Beads of Paradise, in Sherman Oaks. This is a branch of the same store in Ventura.  If you have a choice, go to Ventura. The Sherman Oaks store is a faint reflection of the main store, with about a quarter or less of the selection of everything. The people were nice but it seemed like there was very little unique about the store. At this stage, I've got most of the basics, I seek the unique and significant. This store didn't have it. The Ventura store is outstanding and I'll give a more complete review later on.  The store was 90% accessible, parking on the street. I'd give it a 5 out of 10, if that.

For now, if you're in the area and have to choose one store to visit, go to Beadiak. 

By the time we got out of the second store, we were hungry. We'd planned ahead, and went to Carney's Hot Dogs, on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City. My goodness. My husband is the hot dog enthusiast, but I have to say these were the best dogs I've had in a loooong time. Natural casings, soft steamed buns, oh my. The place was constantly busy with locals, many with their kids. Adequate fries, good lemonade. Beats the pants off Pinks, seriously. Plus the train car is cool. 

So that was Saturday. Fun!

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