Shopping in New York 2005
OK, so going to the factories in Europe are out of the question,
and traveling to Paris, France for the week to buy beads seems
a little over the top for you; so consider the East coast, and
in particular New York, and Providence, Rhode Island for your
If youre flying in, start in New York City, and if you
have time, catch the train to Providence. If you dont have
time, New York will be just fine.
The bead district is basically 36th Ave. If you flew in, youll
be staying in a hotel, and will be riding the subway in to town.
You will get off at Grand Central Station, or if you are staying
on Long Island, you will get off at Penn Station. Either way,
you are just a few short blocks to the bead and garment district.
Almost immediately you will find retail bead shops such as
Toho Shoji, and The Bead Shop of New York. These shops are just
like your typical bead shop back home.
Continue up 38th Ave, and you will find M & J Trim, a
huge button, notion and trim shop, with thousands of square feet
of retail and wholesale space filled with goodies. If thats
what you are looking for, plan on spending several hours there.
Just across the street, on the other side, the first importer
you will come across is Margola. They are an old Czech glass
bead importer, and there you will find small bins of old (not
vintage) beads for sale. They will be loose. Then there are bundles
of new Czech pressed beads and fire polish hanging on the wall,
available by the strand and by the ¼ or ½ mass.
They sell wholesale to the public, but there is a discount for
quantity, again available to anyone. With your tax I.D. you can
avoid paying the sales tax. They also sell plastic beads, rocailles
Just across the street, and a few doors down, you will find
Elliot, Greene & Co, Inc., another old Czech glass bead importer.
You have to ring the bell to be let in, and usually need an appointment
to get in, or a referral by another business involved in the
trade. Lots of sequins and rhinestones here, and rocaille seed
beads. Elliot Greene was probably the first importer to carry
13/0 charlottes, and still does today. Old man Greene does not
run the business anymore, he sold to Alan Shaw several years
ago, but according to people who know, nothing has changed.
A couple doors down from Elliot Greene is Elvee Rosenberg,
another old time Czech and German glass bead importer. From the
street if you look up you can see 3 or 4 floors of windows filled
with dusty old boxes that contain beads and rhinestones and trim
and who knows what else, just waiting for you to discover.
Crossing the street once again you come to York Novelties,
another old Czech importer from the 1930s. Old man Soloman
Brookstein started working for Elliot Greene as an errand boy
back then, met his wife who also worked for Elliot Greene, and
purchased his first $400 worth of beads from Greene and sold
it to one customer. According to Marti Brookstein, Solomons
son, who took over York Novelties in the seventies when Soloman
retired, they still havent been paid for that first sale!
Soloman purchased the building in 1932 during the depression,
and it is still owned to this day by the family. Soloman died
in 1973, Marti retired in the nineties, and his son Perry now
runs York Novelties. The ground floor is basically the showroom,
and like Margola, York Novelties sells wholesale to the public.
Most items are available to be purchased in the showroom, but
some bulk items like charlottes and wood beads are on the second
floor. In the old days, the vintage beads were stashed in the
basement, and you were given gloves and a shovel to go down there
gloves because of the dirt, and the shovel because of the rats.
Perry has since cleaned up all that, and now its relatively
boring down there
just beads. (Yeah, right!)
Marti still has an office on the second floor, next to Perry,
probably to keep an eye on him, but just as probably to get away
from his wife, and to fight off retirement boredom.
Marti used to take Perry to Czechoslovakia back in the 1950s
and 60s to buy beads, when the country was communist, and
after the Jablonex salesmen left New York on their sales runs
to York Novelties, Marti would be visited by FBI agents to find
out what the commies wanted. (It has been documented elsewhere
that during the cold war Jablonex salesmen were sometimes a front
for Czech and KGB agents to come to the west on spy missions.)
Which brings us to the 3rd floor of York Novelties building
the offices and showroom of Bijou de Boheme, aka Jablonex.
Here you can look at and maybe place orders directly with the
factories in Czech Republic. I say that because although you
can look at the sample cards of all the rocailles made by Ornela
and distributed by Jablonex, you cannot actually buy any. So
why they even bother to show them is a mystery to me.
Just off 36th Ave by one block, on 37th Ave, is another warehouse
worth visiting. It is a 10 story high rise owned by Carl, an
amazing man who began in the bead business when he was 16. He
is still in the business at 74, but the 10-story building that
used to be all beads and stuff has been consolidated down to
one story, the second floor. It is a maze of boxes, piled 3 ft
high, with trails leading from room to room. Occasionally an
avalanche will occur behind you as you move boxes to make your
own trail into a corner. Carl has glass beads, crystal beads,
plastic beads, metal beads, rhinestones, flat backs, chain, sequins,
rivolis, cabochons, ornaments, stuff you didnt know
you needed or wanted, and its all old and vintage. Definitely
plan on spending the day. And if you play chess, it may take
longer. Oh, and by the way, Carl loves puppies!
Everything is by weight, and its cheap. Carls business
name is CJS, and you will need a referral to get in. Good luck!
every once in a while someone talks about an old
warehouse in New York City that they found wonderful stuff in
well, this is that warehouse. It really does exist.
There are many other places to go see, some you will just
stumble across, most you will be referred to by the place you
just left. You must just ask
.where do you suggest
I go to find
.? Usually they will then call
that business and let them know you are coming over.
One such place is Metalliferous, owned by a great guy, Anthony.
He specializes in metal findings and filigree, but has tools,
lapidary equipment, beads and lots of other stuff.
If you are still looking for other things, such as crystal,
or vintage, head out to Farmingdale, Long Island, to a bead store
called The Bead Market. The sales manager is Franklin, and if
youre nice, he might let you into his warehouse out back.
The warehouse is Harmon Imports. He has a huge selection of Swarovski
crystal, and an enormous selection of vintage glass from Austria
and Germany. He has a formula you must follow to purchase vintage
new and 1/3 vintage.
Finally, if youre through with New York, and the subway,
and the people, and the food (oh my god
the food!) then
maybe you are ready for Providence, Rhode Island, and the warehouses
Just outside of Providence proper is a business hardly anyone
knows called Waliga Imports. This is a wonderland of beads, crystals,
trim, chain, vintage, and contempary, old, unusual, you name
it. It is large, maybe 10,000 sq. feet, stuffed full of things
you must have. They open crates all the time, and new discoveries
are made that have been hidden for decades. Waliga Imports is
Next is a huge warehouse in Providence called Wolf E. Myrow.
After you investigate the huge ground level floor space, you
are led down into the basement, and are made aware of the yellow
line you must locate so as to be able to find your way out when
you are forced to leave by hunger many hours later. This place
is stuffed full of everything you can imagine. Their swarovski
crystal cage is large, and well stocked. To see all the lovely
crystal you must get past the woman guarding the cage. Be nice
Also in Providence is Pontiac Treasures, the closeout warehouse
for John F. Allen, another old time Czech and German glass bead
And finally, E.H. Ashley is in Providence. They carry Swarovski
crystal and contempory German glass beads.
All right now, you are armed with enough information to go
out there and shop til you drop! Bring cash, travelers checks,
checks, and credit cards ready to go spend! The warehouses in
New York will sell wholesale to the public, but in Providence
you will need your tax I.D. or resale certificate to get in and