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The last strand: Bead Creative shop will close in village plaza

BEADS BRING FRIENDS TOGETHER — Kathy Macaluso and Ree Byrne examine some of the pre-made jewelry that Bead Creative in Hamburg has to offer. The shop, which will close due to an ending lease in February, provides supplies for jewelry crafting with loose beads, findings and more. Photos by Alicia Greco.
HAMBURG — The walls of Bead Creative, a bead shop within the Village Town Plaza in Hamburg, will be bare by early February, as the business closes its doors, due to an ending lease.

According to owner Richard Alt, the store “did OK for a number of years, then it started to slide, just as the whole [bead] business did.”

Alt is a North Buffalo native who has lived in the area for all of his life, except for three years while he served in the United States Air Force, during the Vietnam War. He currently resides in Williamsville.

He said that, several years ago, he was searching for a new business venture. After having conversations over the fence with his next-door neighbor, he seemed to find what he was seeking: the bead business. As newly formed partners, the two made the journey to Sacramento, Calif. for training from the neighbor’s sister-in-law, who owned a bead store in that city. The first of their establishments opened on Main Street in Williamsville.

“The partnership blew apart, so I went on my own,” Alt said. He opened a Rochester location that lasted approximately two years, until he closed it and, in 1998, went on to open the Bead Creative Shop, which will remain at 5401 Sheridan Drive in Williamsville. Shortly thereafter, he opened his Hamburg location.

“I’ve enjoyed it, big time,” Alt said. “It’s nice to be [working with] something that you like.” He used to make jewelry, but said he no longer does, because the business became too time-consuming. In addition to running the two local stores, he would also attend out-of-state trade shows in places like Detroit, Mich. or Tucson, Ariz., to purchase wholesale items.

The bead business itself, Alt said, had been on the decline a few years before the economy started to tank. He said that the closing of his store has been impacted by three things: the economy, bead business decline and the Internet.

RAINBOW STRANDS — All merchandise at Bead Creative is currently being sold at a 30 percent discount; that number will increase, as the closing date nears.
“It’s not a necessity,” he said, about jewelry supplies. “I don’t want to call it a fad, because there will always be bead stores.” He said that the core of his business are his routine customers; some Bead Creative patrons have called Alt, inquiring about the closing. “My main business is repeat

customers,” he said, adding that many of his loyal customers will follow him to his Williamsville store.

What makes a bead shop different than a craft store is the exclusivity and speciality focus on the jewelry craft. Alt said that these type of businesses offer a higher quality, better prices and a greater variety of products, compared to a chain craft store. His employees often create jewelry themselves and are able to educate customers who may be in need of assistance.

Alt said that he will continue to run his Williamsville location, but does not plan on opening another bead store, especially “considering the bead business climate.” Everything in the Hamburg store is currently being sold at a 30 percent discount, which will increase, as the closing date approaches.

Alt said that he has had trouble as a renter within the local plaza. The location next door to Bead Creative has flooded, due to a burst pipe, three times in the past four years; Alt said that assistance from the plaza management was minimal.

“It got better [over the years], but for a while it was horrible,” Alt said, adding that he would consider maintaining his location if his business was doing well enough.

A specific closing date has not quite been set, but Bead Creative will close in early February. Alt announced that gift certificates will be honored at the Sheridan Drive location.

Bead Creative in Hamburg is located within the Village Square Plaza at 141 Buffalo St. and can be reached by calling 649-1133. The store that will remain open is located at 5401 Sheridan Drive in Williamsville and can be reached at 626-4182.

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