By Anna Lothson
Nestled in the Oak Park Arts District, Bead in Hand has strung together nearly two decades of history in the niche market on Harrison Street.
The quaint storefront, half a flight down from street level just off Lombard, paves the way to the street's culture. The shop itself offers a haven for jewelry makers and bead connoisseurs with a seemingly endless supply of gems to choose from.
The store is in its 19th year, but Kim Humphrey is only in her second month as owner after being the store manager since 2005. She sat on the decision to buy the store from its founder for a while before determining she needed it as much as the shop needed her.
"I realized I had to buy the store because I love it. That's not necessarily the basis for making a serious business decision, but I believe in love," she said. "I love what I do and the customers wanted the store to survive."
It's that passion, she said, that translates from the employees to the customers.
"I love what the store does," Humphrey said. "I love how people can come in here and find out they can do something they didn't know they could do."
The new ownership may not mean much for those longtime customers of Bead in Hand who've already gotten to know Humphrey, but becoming a business owner is a challenging accomplishment she never pictured herself reaching. Luckily, with the assistance of her faithful employees, the switch has been as smooth as possible. Tackling technology switches and other business matters have been balanced by the positive group of ladies who run the shop.
"We are very welcoming people," Kate Linne, a part-time employee said. "People are very happy here. … Personal service is a big part of it. It really helps."
Linne, who also teaches at the park district, runs the shop's children's parties where kids show off their creativity with beaded crafts.
"I like to see that little light bulb go off when they figure out something," she said. "That's a really fun thing to see."
Linne and Humphrey agree another perk of the shop is its location, since there are many long-term shops in the area that have a collaborative approach to keeping the arts district thriving. A bead store may not fit in everywhere, but in one of Oak Park's premier cultural hubs, it's found a spot.
"It's the Oak Park way. … I just feel at home here," Humphrey said. "It's just a comfortable place to be."
When contemplating the future of the shop there were a lot of factors, but she knew one thing was for sure.
"I thought, 'we have to stay here,'" she said. "And here we are."
Bead in Hand never technically closed in the transition of ownership, but to commemorate the "grand reopening," the store will host a celebration from 6-10 p.m., May 25 and noon-8 p.m. May 26.
For more information about the store, located at 145 Harrison St., visit beadinhand.com or call 708-848-1761.
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