Since 1994, a boutique on River Road has been bringing a little piece of the world to Des Plaines.
Judith Schwab, owner of Bodacious Beads, opened the store because simply put, she loves beads.
“Its hard for me to not buy beads,” Schwab said.
Her interest developed 23 years ago when she was making polymer clay beads with a friend. Schwab went to a store to buy complementing beads for a necklace and quickly realized she was “hooked.” Schwab sold beads at craft and industry shows for a while but opened Bodacious Beads because she wanted to bring her passion to a wider audience.
Bodacious Beads, located at 1942 South River Road, offers hundreds of varieties of beads, from Swarovski crystal to freshwater pearls from China. Shoppers can purchase large Indian bone beads and string a necklace in ten minutes or buy seed beads and spend hours weaving an intricate design.
The store’s staff, composed of four employees in addition to Schwab, are all experienced beaders and can answer any question that customers have.
“No one walks in and their questions can’t be answered,” Schwab said. Bodacious Beads does not offer classes but will do demonstrations upon request.
The store’s inventory is geared toward jewelry making, although other bead-related projects include sculptures, home decorations, and holiday gifts. Aside from beads, the store carries tools, magazines and books related to beading.
Bodacious Beads has seen a slow-down during the recession but it hasn’t affected the store’s hours or operations, Schwab said. She noted that when she got into the business, there were very few sources for beads. Within the past five years or so, many other stores and online sources for jewelry makers have surfaced.
The store has stayed competitive because of its prices and unique selection, Schwab said, adding that customers, some of whom come from as far as Rockford, like the “depth and breadth” of the selection.
Many customers start with one craft or project and then realize how much they love making jewelry, Schwab said. Some store patrons make jewelry for just themselves or friends. Others run a brisk business, making lots of jewelry for their customers and selling their wares at shows.
While not much networking happens in the store itself, many meet at Bodacious Beads and exchange ideas, Schwab said. There is some finished jewelry featured in the store.
Sher Berman, who has been a Bodacious Beads employee for 10 years, makes glass beads at her home studio in Deerfield. She enjoys bead making because the options are “endless” and added that the store is a great place to work.
“Judith’s energy is amazing,” Berman said.