I had picked some colors out at Knot Just Beads and Funky Hannah's, but I didn't really find everything I needed. In October I talked about the importance of supporting local bead shops, and all of those reasons are still valid. However, when I'm creating kits, I need a bigger selection of colors. Also, I need to buy in bulk and save as much money as I can so my kit prices don't get too high.
I've ranted before about choosing colors for kits online (rant #1, rant #2, brick stitch samples), and I don't want to complain about the same things again. Steve suggested I posted the sites where I've found good deals and ask for the sites you use so we can all benefit. He's so smart (and I'm not just saying that because he's waiting for me to finish blogging).
Here are some of the sites I've found in my online bead travels. Keep in mind that my opinions are MY OPINIONS, and they're colored somewhat by the beads I've been looking for lately - primarily Super Duos, Rizos, and Thunder Polish crystals.
Fire Mountain Gems is a great online resource. They have "All Assortable Pricing", which means that you can save money by buying more. It doesn't matter what you buy, if you buy 15 or more different items, you will save money. Buy 50 different items, and you save even more. Go crazy and buy 200 different items, and you save the most. They have a lot of seed beads, Czech Fire Polished beads, and Swarovski crystals in a number of different sizes and shapes. It's a great site full of inspiration (and their catalogs are excellent), but they don't have everything I need, like Rizos, Super Duos, and Thunder Polish crystals. Oh - they give away goody bags at the Bead&Button Show, which is always fun. Their pens are really good, too.
BeadCorp is a new site to me that I found while looking for Thunder Polish crystals. Right now they're having a 45% off sale on Thunder Polish crystals, so I immediately went shopping (of course). They have a large number of sizes and colors of the crystals, and I was able to find a few colors that I think will match Super Duos I found. Speaking of Super Duos... They have a LOT of colors. If I counted correctly, there are 95 colors on page 1, and there are three pages. The prices are excellent, too - better than I've seen anywhere. I placed an order today, so we'll see how fast shipment is and how good the beads are. However, they don't have Rizos or seed beads. Le sigh.
Goody Beads is a good site with a lot of Rizos (yay!), even though I had to go hunting for them. They're listed under seed beads. You'd think I could have just searched for "Rizo", but I got everything with a horizontal hole. The prices on the Rizos are good, especially now when they're having a "Friends and Family" 20% off everything sale. That goes through 3/11, so I recommend checking the site out. They have volume discounts, too, but only for each item (not like Fire Mountain Gem's mix and match pricing). You don't save a lot when buying in volume, but that is nice if you have to buy a lot of the same bead. Every little bit helps. They have a large selection of Super Duos, but their prices aren't as good as BeadCorp's. There are a lot of seed beads, but I'm not sure if the numbers on the site are the "official color numbers" I tried looking for a few beads I have, but I couldn't find them. That's tricky on any site, actually. Many sites assign their own numbers, which makes it hard to match up with beads you found elsewhere. Oh - Goody Beads frequently gives little extras when purchasing, like right now the 20% off sale includes three cute lampwork owl beads.
Art Beads is another decent site I've purchased from in the past. They have good sales from time to time (and have also given little gifts with purchase). They have an okay selection of Rizos (when compared to the other sites) with smaller quantities (10g instead of 22 or 24g), so their prices are cheaper. I would shop the sales and check per gram pricing to see where the best deal would be. They also have an okay selection of Super Duos. They also seem to have a really good selection of Miyuki and Toho seed beads, but I didn't go delving all that long in those sections.
Whimbeads is another site I've ordered from in the past. Their Super Duo selection is a bit better than Art Beads, but the prices are little higher, and it seemed that a number of the items are out of stock. There's a good selection of Rizos, and their prices are about like the other sites or a little bit higher. They have a lot of peanut beads, and they have colors I've had problems finding on other sites. They also have a really good selection of seed beads, and if I were looking for a particular color, I would probably shop here first. Like a few of the other sites, they have volume pricing. It's not as good as Fire Mountain Gems, but it's better than Art Beads. The volume pricing is by type of bead, not just by one particular bead. For example, if you get 15 or more tubes of multiple colors of peanut beads, you get the volume pricing.
Marilee Rockley recommends Bello Modo. She said, "I like their selection of Vintaj and their steampunk buttons! They also have many kinds of beads and crystals." Check out her steampunk tatted belt that she made with buttons from Bello Modo!
I think that's enough from me for now. I could go on and on because I've had to do a lot of searching to find exactly what I need for my kits. My best advice would be to check these and other sites for who has the colors you need, who has the best per bead/gram price, and who's running a sale (which would affect the per bead/gram price). Wait - I think there's a song about this... "My mama told me... you better shop around" Okay, no - it's about finding a good man, but the principle is the same for bead shopping. "The beads'll come and the beads are gonna go, now..."
I'm getting loopy, and Steve is waiting, so...
If you have anything to add - either more information on any of these sites or of other sites you've ordered from - please leave a comment here or e-mail me at email@example.com. I'll update this post as information comes in, and maybe we'll end up with a good list!