Those were the days ... and bloody good times too.
Margaret River's very own bead family. Marius and Rose with their grandson Zebediah.
Twenty-five years have passed since we opened the doors to our first shop in Broome, a small community in far North-western Australia.
We called the shop Broome Beads and other things - that was on Friday, April 17, 1998.
And boy, were we ever green in those days!
We began the journey in a tiny 28 square metre shop on Johnny Chi Lane, in the heart of Chinatown, with 200 jars of beads and findings and about 20 pieces of jewellery Rose had created.
On opening day, we were so nervous about unlocking the doors to the public for the first time, we ended up procrastinating all morning before building up the courage to tear down the newspapers in the windows.
I recall our first sale was a 10-gram packet of shiny plastic pearls we sold for a dollar, purchased by a local fisherman who wanted to dress up his lures.
And with our first days’ takings a paltry $11.70, we wondered if we’d made a big mistake.
Up until this point many of our friends and other local retailers had urged us to think very carefully about what we were getting into; many of them thought we were nuts, saying things like: …”a bead shop in Broome … you must be crazy – how can you make a living by selling beads for five and 10 cents? …”
Negative thoughts began to race through our minds – like how on earth were we going to make ends meet, how were we going to pay the rent let alone generating enough moola to put food on the table.
But fear is a powerful motivator – which, when coupled with conviction become key ingredients as well as a formula for success.
We believed in ourselves and had faith in our dream of creating the best little bead shop in Australia – one that not only carried a broad selection, but one that also offered an interesting range of rare and collectible beads not found elsewhere.
We knew in our hearts we could make it work. And we did.
For the next 12 years, armed with a permanent staff of three, we did just that – going from strength to strength - increasing our stock range, improving our knowledge, enhancing choice of product plus sharing that newfound expertise with a hands-on approach with our customers.
Rose was the creative partner, who spent less time serving customers, but more time getting to play with the beads – creating a vast selection of jewellery from necklaces to bracelets, and earrings to anklets to sell in the shop.
So, Broome Beads - that tiny little shop in the heart of downtown Broome, became a veritable magnet for all those locals and tourists who couldn’t live without their beads.
Without question, it became one of the best-stocked and renowned bead shops in Australia.
And, by its very location, the shop also became the most remote bead shop in the southern hemisphere.
However, after almost three years of trading and the shop doing well, the idea of establishing a second shop presented itself. And the thought wouldn’t go away!
We’d heard lots of positive things about a little town in the southwest of the state called Margaret River which we discovered was located in the heart of the state’s largest premium wine producing district which claimed a modest and temperate climate.
This thought of ours had a lot to do with the weather. Having both come from the northern hemisphere – our conditioning to the extreme wet season and cyclonic conditions during the winter months became a little too much for us to bare.
So, with the seeds already sown a year earlier, we began to put our plans in motion and started putting stock aside for the new venture.
For simplicity’s sake, we decided to duplicate the stock-range we carried in Broome – which comprised a world-wide selection of more than 6000 beads and findings. We thought it would be easier for us to maintain efficiency at both shops by carrying the same inventory.
Our plan called for Margaret River to become the headquarters – where the surplus stock for both shops would be housed – and we would utilise road and air freight services between Broome and Margaret River to shift the beads.
That said, the Margaret River shop had to be substantially larger than the hole in the wall we had in Broome in order to store the surplus stock.
No mucking around, the plan was to open the new shop with a bang.
Margaret River would be modelled in a similar way to Broome – with rows and rows of wall-to-wall shelving packed to the hilt with thousands of bead jars filled brim-full with beads and findings.
And like in Broome - entering the shop would be a visual experience where customers would be met by a massive blaze of eye-level colour and a bead repository showcasing one of the finest collections of beads found anywhere.
In preparation for all this, we spent several months filling up and labelling the jars destined to go south.
We acquired two shop counter display cabinets, two single-pedestal antique tables, a POS cash and register system, an upright display cabinet, and ordered custom-made revolving display racks for packages of beads.
Finally, it was mid-December 2001 - armed with conviction, box trailer packed and ready to go, Marius jumped into his Landcruiser and headed south, while Rose remained in Broome to continue running the shop there.
After securing a lease for premises on Station Road, Marius built and fitted out the new shop over the course of the next month.
So, Margaret River Beads and other things ... was born – opening its doors for the first time on January 17, 2002.
The shop was an instant hit with the community – with customers amazed by the amount of stock we had on opening day!!
Over the years we had built a reputation for being able to source items which were distinctly different to similar stores - keeping up with current fashion trends in terms of style and colour – and that’s why we were able to stand out in the crowd.
With millions of beads and findings on hand, a permanent stock range of more than 6000 individual products (in both shops) – plus an enviable collection of antique, ethnic, rare and unusual beads – our shops became synonymous to the beading fraternity – everywhere.
In the early days, because our brand had become so sought after – maintaining stock levels and variety kept us working twenty four seven.
Chasing the sun rather than the rain - we spent six months in Broome and the other six months in Margaret River.
Naturally, we selected to be in each location during their respective busy periods, which meant we could enjoy the warmth of the sun almost year round.
Up until 2009 we employed nine staff during peak periods, with a shop manager posted at both locations during our absence.
This lifestyle continued for about six years.
But unfortunately, after 12 years, we had to make the heart-wrenching decision to sell Broome Beads following the tragic passing of our daughter Alana.
This turned our lives upside down – and our lives have never quite been the same since.
However, selling the Broome shop enabled to us to provide the stability needed in the raising of her three-year old son in Margaret River.
And this where we have been until we closed the shop on December 31, 2019.
- Marius Dakin