Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mostly Bead Store Review, and a Little Birthday

Mendocino Bay is gorgeous in the sunshine. It's not too shabby in the rain, either. 

So I sit here blogging, looking out over the bay. I'm waiting for the thermals to rise, so the osprey pair that live here will begin to fly past the cliff. A lone quail just wandered past on the deck, not more than 5 feet away from my chair, his little hmuh curled tightly over his head. Yes, it's called a hmuh. Don't ask me how to pronounce it. We say it "hmm-muh" but that may be wrong. We don't care. It's an intrinsically cool word.

Anyway, hmuhs aside, yesterday we made the long-awaited visit to Rubaiyat Bead Store in Fort Bragg. The owner, Dawa Sherpa, was there. We had a wonderful conversation while he helped us find the treasures that were all over the store. Dawa is from Nepal, so much of the shop is filled with Nepalese ethnic pieces. He's a man of many interests, and he told us about his farm in Nepal, where he actually has yaks, although he called them cows. I guess in Nepal they are cows!  He and his wife own this shop and the one with the same name in Mendocino. He also has a business in Katmandu! Imagine. Visit their website, as it shows all the other types of things they stock besides beads; rugs, textiles and religious carvings and other items.

Many of the stones that line his walls are from India, Nepal, and China. He has amazingly high-quality items I have not seen anywhere else, for exceedingly low prices. Because much of it comes directly from the producers in Thailand, India, China, etc, and Dawa shops for it and brings it in personally, the prices are kept very low. This is much closer to direct-importer stuff than you're likely to find elsewhere. The undyed coral and the Chinese turquoise were wonderful, and I got some unique pieces. I got some faceted green topaz and citrine drops that look like nearly gem-quality. 

I invested heavily in faceted multi-color tourmaline strands like these. The price on the ones in the photo is $39 a strand. Let's just say I paid far less than that. This shop offers major discounts for those with a resale license. Slightly less but still fabulous discounts for retail shoppers, and frankly, even the regular prices without discount were about half of what you find online.

I bought some ruby and amethyst drops, some Thai silver beads, and various other bits of uniqueness. Dawa told me that next month (May 2010) he will be traveling in China getting new inventory, and the shop will be closed. But if you can make it here when the shop is open, visit!  

The shop is a bit tight for wheelchair access, but I stood long enough for my husband to move the chair about and made do. Dawa was very helpful in bringing things for me to see.  Like every other shop, there is just too much variety for this review to cover it in full.

They have a very high uniqueness factor here. No supplies to speak of, no workshops or classes. Just high-quality merchandise at low-low prices. I'll give the shop a 9 out of 10 rating.

It was John's birthday, of course, and we ate lunch again at the Laurel Street Deli. John voted for the chili-burger again. Someday he'll grow up. Maybe. Probably not. 

We took a short stroll across the Pudding Creek trestle, and looked at the beginning of the 10-mile trail up the coast. Allegedly you can walk all the way to McKerricher State park on this trail. It might be a bit too far for us (particularly round trip!) but we might try a small part of it. 

Then, when I came home, I got to put all my new acquisitions into the BeadEnCounter software so I can keep track of costs and sources for the future. I actually enjoy this part of the process immensely. It helps me to remember where and when purchased something, and that adds to the emotional weight of the finished pieces.

In the evening I got one of my kumihimo disks set up with a new braid, and today, I'm going to spend some time with an embroidered picture frame I'm working on. 

Tomorrow we'll be spending some time at McKerricher. It's my Happy Place.

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