A Rolling Stone has been a Redlands fixture for more than 14 years. Located on Citrus Street in what was once a pharmacy, this daughter-mother partnership is one of only a handful of independently owned bead and beading shops in the Inland Empire.
Beading, the craft of attaching beads to one another by stringing them onto thread or thin wire, or sewing them to cloth, is an ancient art which has enjoyed a resurgence in the past few decades. Beads were possibly developed in Egypt around 3000 B.C. It is thought that bead making was a precursor to glass making. Beading includes bead stringing, bead embroidery, bead weaving, bead macramé, beading on a loom and even 3D beading.
Leah, the daughter, studied at the Gemology Institute of America. After graduating, she spent a year in Carlsbad grading diamonds. She didn’t find peering at diamonds under a microscope every day to be fulfilling. She did, however, love beading, using many of the gems she had studied at the institute. She sold her beaded items for six months at Redlands Market Night, receiving rave reviews from her customers.
She then decided to open a store and asked her mother, Rena, a civil engineer, drafter and office manager, to be her partner. Rena figured she could manage the business while Leah crafted items and taught beading classes, but Rena then discovered that she also loved beading.
At the start, they offered gemstones, glass beads, and findings (clasps, spacers, and hardware) needed to create bracelets, necklaces, and pins. They taught beginner beading classes. Then, as their customers’ skills increased, added intermediate and advanced classes.
An expanding customer base allowed them to increase the shop’s inventory. At A Rolling Stone one will come across charms, buckles, marbles, domino and scrabble tiles, and, of course, all types of beads. Five years ago, they started selling vintage items — jewelry, beads, and buttons — made from glass, metal and Bakelite, a plastic resin. They source their wares from China, India, the Czech Republic — all over the world. Many of these items are not available in the “big box” stores.
Each month they showcase a gemstone “trunk show” from one of their vendors. Each show is unique — new items not previously available in the store. Ready-made jewelry, ornaments and other items also are for sale.
People come to the shop looking for “themed” pieces. During an interview with Rena, a customer came in looking for items for a Western-themed party. Rena suggested bolo ties, showed the customer how that type of tie is made, and helped the customer gather the components necessary for her guests to create their own bolo. Another customer asked Rena to make a rosary for a grandchild’s First Communion. A third customer was interested in making wind chimes.
Rena repairs jewelry. Many of the local jewelers refer customers to A Rolling Stone for repairs that the jeweler would have to send out. Although Leah and Rena do not repair watches, they do replace watch batteries. If there are no other customers in the store, they will replace the battery immediately — great customer service.
A Rolling Stone is host to private parties where guests can make jewelry, ornaments, and home décor. Rena will guide attendees through the creation process.
Rena admits it’s tough to run a small business. So, what keeps her going? “I love creating. I love my customers. This is my social life.”
A Rolling Stone
Where: 320 E Citrus Ave, Redlands, CA 92373
Hours: 10:30 a.m. 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Why shop local? You conserve your tax dollars. Spending locally instead of online ensures that your sales taxes are reinvested where they belong — in your community!
Update: Star Tulip Stuffies, profiled in this column on May 24, has moved. The store is now in the Tri-City Center, mid-way between Burlington Coat Factory and Dollar Tree, 1410 Industrial Park Ave. The sign still reads “Sweet Pea and Me Bakery” (former occupant), but Kathy’s house and yard banners are displayed in front of the store. You can’t miss it.