While Manhattan has its diamond district, the corner of Circle Avenue and Madison Street seems on its way to becoming Forest Park’s own bead district.
Briolette Beads and More, which will sell an assortment of beads and equipment allowing customers to make their own beaded jewelry at home, is expected to open in mid-May in place of Circle Video, which closed last month at 7320 Madison St. It will be the second bead shop opened by owners Charlene and Daniel Steele, who also own Caravan Beads, 3361 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago.
“We felt that Forest Park was a really good place to have a bead store because the downtown is just so vibrant,” said Charlene Steele. She said she felt the business would go hand in hand with other Madison Street mainstays like Chix with Stix, the popular yarn shop at 7316 Madison St.
“I’m a knitter too ” a lot of women that do beading are crafty and do all kinds of things,” she said.
Madison Street shoppers are sure to notice the similarities between Briolette Beads and its next door neighbor, Team Blonde Jewelry, which moved to 7324 Madison St. last year from its previous second story space across the street.
Developer Robert Marani, who owns the building that will be occupied by both jewelers as well as La Piazza Italian restaurant, said that the two stores will not compete.
“I would never build or sell anything that would be a direct competitor with anyone else (in the same building). It’s a completely different business with a completely different clientele,” he said, describing Briolette Beads’ product line as “more upscale.”
While Briolette Beads focuses on selling beads which customers can craft into completed jewelry on their own, Team Blonde sells completed products while also allowing shoppers to design their own beaded jewelry which the store’s staff then assembles.
Steele feels that the neighboring bead businesses will compliment one-another.
“Some people don’t like to put things together, so they can go next door and have the girls there do that for them,” she said.
Team Blonde’s owners, on the other hand, are not so sure.
“It’s a delicate situation because we don’t want to be a bad neighbor and don’t want to do anything bad for the street,” said co-owner Heidi Vance. “We did have to realize that we’re disappointed that they’re coming next door and they seem so closely related to us.”
Vance said the most likely source of overlap would be in jewelry making classes which both businesses provide.
Team Blonde also offers several classes, including a “Crafts and Cuisine” program allowing parents to drop off their kids for dinner and jewelry making classes while they dine next door at La Piazza and “Girls’ Night Out,” which combines jewelry making with spa treatments provided by Macdaddy’s Salon.
Vance said that a verbal agreement was made for the two businesses to enter into a non-competition deal, which would prevent their new neighbor from offering overlapping services.
“We’re hopeful that the bead store is going to stand by their original verbal agreement. It hasn’t been executed but we’re hopeful we can do that in the future,” she said.
Marani said he doesn’t feel that such an agreement would be necessary.
“There’s no need for any agreement; they’re non-direct competition,” he said.
“[Briolette Beads] classes are more in the technique aspect. The people who come are more people who make jewelry for a living.”
Steele said that Briolette Beads will offer jewelry making classes for both children and adults. She said she was not aware that Team Blonde also offers classes.
Steele said she hopes her new store will attract new shoppers from all over Chicagoland to Forest Park rather than taking existing shoppers from other businesses.
She described Caravan, which she and her husband opened just over 13 years ago, as a “destination point” for bead fanatics.
“When we first opened up 13 years ago [beads were] just starting to get hot ” now there are bead stores everywhere. The Internet has really helped,” she said. “There’s plenty to go around for everyone…beaders like variety.”