Astronomer Carl Sagan was familiar with millions and billions. He’d have been right at home visiting Shipwreck Beads, a family-owned arts and crafts store in Lacey, that has been a community favorite since the late 1960s. The team at Shipwreck Beads understands the challenges of getting your head around their vast bead inventory – whether you had the chance to visit the showroom before coronavirus closures or have ever toured their website. To help customers navigate more easily and successfully, Shipwreck Beads has redesigned and upgraded their website. You can explore this colorful universe from the comfort and safety of your home.

Shipwreck Beads
Shipwreck Beads has everything you need for necklaces. Find charms, beads and material for stringing and clasping. There are tools, too. Photo courtesy: Shipwreck Beads

Launching new software involves endless details to manage. This equation is more complicated with Shipwreck’s extensive inventory of beads along with all the accompanying accoutrément such as strings, wires, tools, fasteners, needles and more. The goal is to make shopping easier and to allow for diverse sorting options. Consider for a moment picking out a bead, which seems simple enough. It’s not. Suppose you want a blue bead, but which blue do you have in mind? Teal? Midnight blue? Robin egg? Did you want a matte or shiny finish? Then you need to decide what size is needed. Beads start as small as tiny seeds and get incrementally bigger. Are you hoping for material made of wood, plastic, metal or something else? Then there’s the actual shape – round, oval, square, irregular, rough or multi-faceted. There are more choices than even the most complicated barista-made coffee drink. You can imagine why selecting beads can get complicated. Of course, to the craft enthusiast, this is lots of fun to figure out.

Pat Simmons, Shipwreck’s IT manager and creative director, is deep into this undertaking. He first started working on the showroom floor when he was in college. His interest and willingness to embrace technology was essential to the redesign of the store’s original website, making it a more customer-friendly e-commerce site. His computer savvy has developed exponentially over the past two decades and the inventory has grown significantly. Beth Simmons wears many hats with Shipwreck Beads, including buying beads, making jewelry for ads and other administrative tasks. She admits the upgrade is overdue and very welcomed by all. The improved web experience is even more important as the showroom remains closed due to COVID-19 concerns.

Shipwreck Beads
The possibilities are limitless when you make your own beaded pieces. Select colors and styles to fit the tastes of the lucky wearers. Photo courtesy: Shipwreck Beads

Shipwreck Beads maintains a brisk mail-order business at their facility on Commerce Place Drive in Lacey. Safety always has been and remains a priority. Beth knows people like to touch and see the many beads, and Shipwreck Beads is studying the possibilities for more shopping experiences, including events. “It is really, really sad not to be having it,” she remarked about the cancelation of the summer Shipwreck Beads Artisan Market. Nevertheless, the group is looking for ways to promote their vendors. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, Beth wants to remind everyone that beading, making jewelry and other crafts are fun activities for people of all ages. It is a creative use of time and makes for engaging family entertainment. Even young children can thread beads and older children can manipulate wires and pliers. For those who don’t know where to start, check out the children’s kits, which will get you going.

Shipwreck Beads
You can design your own earrings or use kits from Shipwreck Beads. Crafting can be enjoyed by all members of your family. Photo courtesy: Shipwreck Beads

I remember the Perler beads we used when our kids were young. The characters and ornaments were heated up with an iron and melded together. There are also project kits for fashionable earrings and bracelets. You can always design your own. The inventory has grown over time, so there’s plenty to pick from. All Washington State orders are shipped at no cost to the customer and usually arrive within 24-48 hours.

On a romantic note, Beth began working at Shipwreck beads 22 years ago. About 21 years ago Pat started working on the showroom floor. They have been a couple for 17 years and will celebrate another wedding anniversary in August. Recently, their daughter was born, giving her brother a future craft partner. And, yes, you can be certain there are bead activities in their household. The couple has enjoyed watching the business grow and are happy to be part of it.

Shipwreck Beads
Making jewelry can be as simple or complicated as you want. Get ideas on the website. Photo courtesy: Shipwreck Beads

You can count grains of sand on the beach or admire a clear night sky to get a taste for millions and millions. You can also cruise the website of Shipwreck Beads to find inspiration for all sorts of crafty adventures. The showroom may be temporarily closed, but curbside pickup is possible weekdays from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Check out the Shipwreck Beads Facebook page for the latest news and informative videos.

Shipwreck Beads
8650 Commerce Place Drive NE, Lacey


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