Bangles and Beads

The first venture of mine is through Bangles and Beads on the west end of Carytown. It is owned and run by Shirley Moore situated just below the popular Xtra’s Café – not coincidentally owned by her Husband, Bob, and her Youngest daughter, Xtra.

When you’re Passing Bangles and Beads you may think by just looking inside that it’s another jewelry store. It’s not. They function as a jewelry and craft supply store and are doing very well with this.  With beads from all over the world the assortment here would seem like a trippy, chaotic collection.  It’s a little trippy but there is an impeccable amount of organization that has gone into this – and is still being, “compulsively”, reorganized on the sales floor.  I learn all this and more during my visit.

When I first arrived I met my friend, Marigrace, who helped me arrange this interview. Standing at the front register, she was busy putting together a set of beads (new arrivals) on a string as is procedure before displaying any merchandise.  Marigrace briefly introduces me to Shirley before I am guided throughout the store to learn the basics.  I actually missed Shirley when I walked in the store; she was almost hidden in ceiling standing on a step ladder hanging some decorations.

As I mentioned before: so much organization.

The store is arranged in two major sections, stone beads and glass beads. There is Fair-trade and they have charms in silver and gold in the back.

After the guided tour and a brief history of Bangles and Beads Marigrace turns me over to Shirley. So I can get what I was really hoping for, a story. In the backroom at her desk I sat down across from her and pulled the chair to the corner. At that point I really didn’t know what I was doing. This was my first interview and – after all, this day, this meeting, and this project had been delayed for so long. A little nervous, I was.

I just shot the first question out desperately hoping she could even understand the question, a jumble of word and curiosities. There was absolutely nothing to be afraid of – Shirley was animated and sincere.

Shirley shared with me her story and the rich history of Bangles and Beads. As she does now, she began business with family. It started out as a need when times were rough, like now so many years ago. Shirley and her mother sold an assortment of items at the flea markets when she was young. Some of it was even their personal possessions. What they found was that certain items they sold were more popular – crafts and craft supplies. Shirley would procure many of her goods from many places and they would make a good turn around as she would.

Bangles and Beads started around 27 years ago, in the Fan District near the old Bohanna’s record store – she remembers she was still pregnant with Xtra. The store has moved since – to its current location in Carytown and where it’s nearest to the greater part its clientele. Shirley recalls the conveniences of having her own business and being her own boss. Childcare was easy for her children they would hang out right there in the store. Consequently they would also learn how to run a business themselves.

Sophia, Xtra, and Zack are all working with mom or dad running Xtra’s café, Bangles and Beads, and the Father-Son run construction company.

I ask Shirley if she works on any personal or creative projects in her spare time. “What spare time?” The one thing she works on is, “compulsively”, making the store run more efficiently. She is always looking for inspiration to do this, she tells me. She finds it in thrift shops and in repurposed goods. What does that mean? When you swing by next time check out the baskets hanging from the ceiling and guess what is inconspicuously holding them up so well. They’re engine gaskets!

They are currently making a new transition from racks to turnstiles and lazy-Susans to hold more of the beads in the space they have. Which; if you have a look at it, you’ll see how brilliantly they are applying the new fixtures.

Sitting with Shirley, I feel I learned a little more about Richmond’s history and how she is able to maintain Bangles and Beads as a shop that is Unique and contributes to the culture of RVA.


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