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Stocking for classes

I am a jewelry artist setting out on the venture of opening a
gallery/classroom. The thing that has me puzzled is how to go about
stocking the backroom of the gallery so that it contains everything
my students would need to create their own jewelry. This would
include findings, silver, beads, etc. Of course, I realize I could
just buy all the supplies, but I am looking for a more economically
feasible way to do this. Any suggestions? Any advice on what and how
much to stock? Obviously, I am new at this business and would
appreciate any advice. Also, I am headed to Tucson in early February
and would like to know dealers to go to to buy slabs. I’ve never had
much luck in finding slabs and this will be my third year!

Thanks! Sharon Major

Hi Sharon!

The simple answer is that you can’t stock everything that people
want. However you can stock the basics. I stock ss round wire in 6
gauges, sheet in 3 x 3 in 5 gauges, jump rings, a few basic clasps,
solder-gold and silver, pin backs, earring backs and clutches, a few
tools, books, sawblades and drill bits. Basically, I came up with a
list of the most annoying things I seem to run out of and that
determined my stock.

Set a budget for yourself, say $500 for your inventory and replace
when necessary. Eventually you will see what sells the most. The
question you have to ask yourself, are you a classroom, or are you a
store? If you are the latter that teaches a few classes, then you
concentrate on the store and its stock. Bead stores do this, but
their emphasis is to really sell you beads. Teaching a few beading
classes is the incentive for you to buy more beads. If you are a
classroom, then your emphasis is on teaching and you supply some
equipment basics and point your students to vendors that you use

Either way, keep asking questions. It will only help you in the
end. Come and find me at Rio Grande’s Catalog in Motion at the
Hilton East, Tucson Gem Show if you would like to chat.

Good luck in your ventures!


Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph: 781/891-3854
Fx: 781/891-3857
email: @Karen_Christians

Sharon, I had to come to grips with this problem too when I set a
small school here in Asheville recently. I had taught elsewhere
before and found that a significant amount of my time was spend
handling and tracking the materials. This was time taken away from
the students and the bench. Eventually the program brought in an
extra person just to handle the logistics for the class.

When I setup the school, I had to decide if the profit from the
materials was worth the loss in bench and student time. I decided to
go for the students. As a result I do not sell materials or tools.

I set up kits that have everything that they will need for their
projects. These kits are included in the class price. The kits are
part of the beginners and intermediate classes. The school supplies
all of the tools and equipment needed to do the projects. The
students just needing to rent bench space supply their own

My situation was very good because I have a student who owns a bead
store. The store is also just one block from the gallery where I
have the school and my studio. He wanted to change the direction of
his store to meet the local market needs. Even foreign imports and
competition are affecting beads. He is now stocking the metals,
tools, and books as an expanded service to his customers. As a
student, he knows what is needed. He carries the books I suggest. He
also gives my students a discount on the materials. We all win. He
gets more customers because he has the tools and supplies. I get
more students because I have the reputation of giving close
attention to each of my students. The students win because they can
concentrate on learning instead of hunting for supplies or waiting
around to be taken care of. If you do not closely monitor the
supplies, you will loose a lot of money. An inch here, an inch there
really add up fast.

I realize not everyone can have a confluence of resources to make a
situation like mine possible. It may be that your only option is to
stock things in house. If so, keep it simple. Use kits where
possible. Survey other groups for what they carry. I think the Bench
Gods have smiled on us here in Asheville. At least they don’t seem
to be frowning on us at the moment.

Please feel free to contact me off list for more info.


Sharon, You might consider contacting Allcraft. Tevel Herbsman often
gives discounts to teachers who prepare kits for their workshops.
When I took a workshop with Valentin Yotkov, Tevel gave us a discount
on pitch bowls, chasing hammers, copper and German pitch. I believe
Rio Grande has a program to help schools, too. The Honolulu Academy
of Arts Education Center gets a school discount when ordering tools,
supplies, silver and findings.

I don’t know what credentials you’ll need but you can obtain more
by contacting various suppliers about their policies.

Donna Shimazu

You could sink a small fortune into materials and supplies that
might never be used if you aren’t cautious. I think if I were doing
this, I would stock only a minimal amount of raw materials.
Depending on the type of classes or demands you find with your
students/customers, this might include sheet metal, wire, solder, and
a minimum of very basic findings in whatever metals you will be
using. Beyond that, use catalogs like Stuller, Rio Grande, Rochester
(R-Findings) and others who offer reasonable 1 or 2 day shipping. I
have a retail repair business and carry almost no inventory of
findings. I know this kills the ‘instant gratification’ thing, but it
is a great way to keep the budget on track.

Good luck.