Friday, March 24, 2017

Bead Hoarder's Heaven: CJS

The minute I read a blog post (on Interweave's blog, in September I think) about CJS in NYC, a wholesale jewelry supplies warehouse, I dreamed of going there. It truly sounded like heaven to me. I'd really wanted to go, but I wasn't likely to go to NYC (from Philly area) by myself. Luckily for me, I have a friend that feels the same way about beads, and bargain hunting. Together, we hatched a plan to go.

We met up very early in the morning and caught a train into the city at Princeton Junction. One short hour later, we were in midtown Manhattan! We made the mistake of getting in the "quiet car", so we had to move down a car, so we could talk excitedly about our fun adventure. The people on the train probably thought we were absolute hicks - talking on the train, and asking questions, not knowing where to put our tickets, etc...we weren't as blas√© about going to New York City as all the "regulars" were.

I had done my research before going, so I knew exactly where we needed to go. Coming up from underground onto the streets of  New York can be confusing, but once we figured out what block we'd emerged on, we took off on foot. CJS is only about 4 blocks from Penn Station - how convenient!
And it was a weird mild weather day for November, so we didn't even need to bundle up! In fact, we got too hot!

My friend brought her rolling carry-on suitcase, but I had convinced myself that I wouldn't buy too much, so I brought a collapsible wheeled tote, the kind you'd use to transport a knitting project. We didn't know what to expect, really.

We arrived at the building and took the elevator to the 2nd floor. The doors opened and it was unbelievable! There were beads and jewelry supplies everywhere! And I do mean everywhere!! They were stacked up in boxes in hallways, on the floor, even on the air conditioner in the window! (heaven!)

Carl, the owner, gave us the tour....the finished jewelry room, the pearl nook, the metal room, the plastic room, the shell and wood room, the chain room, etc. Every room was filled with boxes full of jewelry supplies, with the boxes stacked 4-5 deep, with just skinny paths through the rooms. The main room near the elevator had old Swarovski stuff, and fabulous vintage cabochons. The pricing was by the pound, for the most part. He handed us an empty box, and left us alone to explore.
So, we started in the metal room, rummaging through box after box after box, throwing bags of stuff in our boxes as we  worked our way through the rooms. Metal, then wood and shell stuff, then to the chain room, which had lots of glass beads and plastic beads as well. As our boxes filled up, we'd take them to the main room, to stack near the elevator, and to grab a new empty box!! (this is when I should have realized I was in trouble!)

We were there from about 9am until about 1pm. We kind of both looked at each other at the same time and said we were ready to call it quits. I was completely saturated in all things "jewelry". We were hot, tired, thirsty, hungry, and completely thrilled. Carl weighed our boxes and tallied the results.

The good news was that all my stuff fit into my tote. The bad news was my tote was not up to the task. I don't remember how many pounds of stuff I got, but it was more than I thought it would be. After leaving CJS, we ate lunch nearby and attempted to go to some of the actual bead stores in the neighborhood (in the garment district), but my bag, while it did roll, was too heavy for me to go too far. So, we headed back to catch the train. I was able to get my bag onto the train, but as I made the final shove, to get in my seat with my loot, I heard the sound of breaking plastic. Uh Oh! We rode the train back to NJ, and I dragged my bag off the train. The wheels were all but gone.

At this point, I should mention that I'd parked the car expertly, as close to where we boarded the train as possible. Of course in hind sight, it would have been advantageous to have parked on the other side of the tracks in the morning, so we'd be parked on the correct side when we returned. Lesson learned.

So, my bag needed to go down the steps, through the tunnel under the tracks, and then back up the other side....My friend offered to help, and we both grabbed the handle and started dragging it. We were doing ok, and I didn't really care if the bag got scraped up from the sidewalks. We got almost to the bottom of the stairs when a young woman walking behind me said "Excuse me, ma'am, I think your bracelet broke". I turned around and saw beads all over the steps. My bag had busted open, and beads were bouncing down the stairs! My Precious!!!! All the people on the stairs were nice enough to pick up beads and hand them to me. I got my bag down to the bottom of the stairs, shoving the loose beads back into the hole. At that point, I literally had no idea how I was going to get the bag the rest of the way to my car. It needed to go through the tunnel, and then up the stairs on the other side!! I was feeling hopeless, and panicked when a young man stopped and said "Do you need help with your bag?". Now, I consider myself an independent woman that has never needed a man's help, but in this moment, I think I saw a halo around his face and heard angels singing! I said "Oh my God, yes. Let me carry your soda.". So he handed me his Mountain Dew, and he picked up my bag and carried it up the stairs and to the curb on the other side. He even offered to take it all the way to the car, but I told him we could handle it from here, and thanked him profusely!! So, I brought the car over to the bag, and we loaded my pitiful bag, and my friend's rolling carry-on (which actually worked well, but one wheel suffered an injury under the weight of the beads) into the car.

Exhilarated! Exhausted!

Now, you deserve some photos!

The metal room

That's my foot - this is the floor of the plastic room!

My foot again! This is the floor of the chain room. The pile of chain was probably about 6 inches deep!

That's me in the chain room - like a pig in mud! OMG!
Sadly, CJS has lost their lease and will be forced to move, although I don't know how they'll possibly move everything. There is so. much. stuff.
Hope you enjoyed hearing about my "adventure"! Thanks for stopping by!

Next post I'll show you some jewelry I've made with My Precious from CJS!

1 comment:

  1. Other than the horror of getting all that back to your car, that sounds like some serious fun!! I hate that I'm much too far away to indulge in a spree like that, but it's probably for the best. Thanks for sharing that adventure with us!


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