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Weight of business too much, shop is alluring - Weekly Briefing - jewelry stores

WHEN Marguerite Markarian got tired of lugging around heavy jewelry to sell to boutiques, she decided she wanted her own store. Fifteen years ago she and her husband, Shant, opened Bead Source, which sells a variety of charms, crystals, beads and tools to make jewelry. Now they have five stores in the Los Angeles area.

"I started out making jewelry when I was 15 years old. When I was in college, I realized making jewelry would be more interesting than what I was studying and I left in my last year.

"I would sell my jewelry to boutiques. Then I started buying and selling jewelry from jobbers. I would travel around to boutiques and chain stores. But it got heavy and I knew I couldn't do that forever. That's when my husband and I decided to open our store.

"We carry an assortment of metal charms, crystals, all sorts of things. We probably have the largest selection of Austrian crystal in town.

"We opened our first store in Reseda 15 years ago. After about a year we realized that we were onto something. We opened a second location in West L.A. 13 years ago. Now we have five stores.

"Our busiest times are the holidays. Christmas, of course. Valentine's. Mother's Day. And we get busy when there are trends. The last trend was turquoise and coral beads. Before that was rhinestone belts.

"The trends last about six or seven months. I don't know how the trends get started but they happen quickly. Usually a movie star or musician wears something. Then, the customers start coming in. We can respond to sudden demand because we have such an assortment of loose pieces we can put anything together.

"Our best selling items are Austrian crystals and semiprecious stones. People use them for bracelets, necklaces, clothing, handbags, key chains, home accessories, candles. Our customers are everyone from kids to grandmas. But we also have wholesalers and small companies.

"Prices range from one penny for some beads to $20 for a semi-precious or sterling pendant. We also sell tools to make jewelry. It seems like making jewelry and crafts in general has been growing. The bigger hobby stores just don't carry the variety that we have.

"Right now we don't have any plans for more stores. I oversee all five stores."

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