The Bead Box Downtown

The Bead Box
September 12, 2006
Mary LaPorte

“You have to fill out an application and interview to purchase those items in the case” Rhonda Smith said half laughing. I was at her store, The Bead Box in downtown Brainerd to look around. She was referring to the artifacts she has purchased from around the world that are for sale. Surrounding the locked case of pendants and ancient carvings dating back to the b.c’s are thousands of beads.

The Bead Box offers the largest and finest selection of beads in the state. Together Rhonda and her husband Brian travel to four shows a year to hand pick, pack and ship the beads back to themselves. This is to ensure quality and variety.

Some of the different kinds of beads you’ll find at the Bead Box include glass, semi-precious stones, Australian crystal, coral, lava, silver, lamp shade, bali brass, carved rocks and wood. This is just a few examples of what they offer…there are literally hundreds of materials that make up the beads at The Bead Box. None of the beads are plastic and all are made up of natural material. They are meticulously placed in neat rows then labeled and sorted. The space is wide open and has a wonderful feeling of the past. You can tell they put a lot of time, effort, and money into the restoration.

The restoration started in January of 2006 and the bulk of it was finished by May. The ceilings are the original 1903 Pressed Tin Ceiling from when the building was constructed. Her husband Brian and their son sandblasted it themselves using 5,600 pounds of sand. They then decorated the store in a 1930s vintage theme. After that they cleaned out the store, painted and started the painstaking process of organizing and displaying the beads.

The beads sit in open containers and the tables are at a level that is good for bead searching. They have sand beads all the way up to very large beads that are inches in diameter. There is also string, clips, and yarn…nearly everything else you would need to start and finish a project. An enclosed case has bead artifacts that are all for sale and hand made beads from local artists. Making the beads takes special talent and skill, but creating the jewelry out of them is something anyone can do. All you need is a little creative edge and some lessons.

They offer classes for any level of beading and birthday parties for kids over ten. All you have to pay for are the beads you use for the party. The Fall schedule will be up soon so call for details.

If you are in the area or just passing through this is definitely a place you’ll want to check out. The family will love picking out beads and you’ll get a taste of history all at the same time. Rhonda said guys stop in too…to pick out beads for fishing lures. So there really is something for everyone.

The Bead Box
624 Laurel Street
Brainerd, MN 56401