ABOUT US

Caravan Beads was started on the sun porch of Barry and Jean's house, in March of 1991. With their neighbors Joe and Carolyn, they founded a tiny 'store' that was only open on Saturdays and had an inventory that fit inside a couple of suitcases. Jean and Carolyn had fallen in love with making beaded jewelry and there were no nearby bead stores to shop at. The first inventory of the store was two paper sandwich bags from a nearby gem show.

Because of wonderful local support and loyal customers, Caravan Beads grew and in the summer of 1994 we launched our mail-order department and began to train customers how to open new bead stores around the country. Our web site went live in October of 1995, and one month later we received our first ever shipment from Miyuki Co., Ltd.

We have continued to expand our selection of Miyuki beads to include every color of Delica bead, as well as the majority of Miyuki seed beads. We have also developed C-lon beading thread and cord in a rainbow of colors to compliment every beading project.

Our design team works to create free projects each month to help keep all of our customers inspired. From easy to make earrings to complex beadwoven projects, there are new techniques and ideas for all levels of beader.

As small business owners we are lucky to have many employees who stay with us for years or even decades. Many of our employees bring their dogs to work with them. We are proud to work with local programs to employ people with developmental disabilities and refugees. All of our jewelry design, web design, graphic design and marketing are done in-house by our passionate and creative staff.

Since the early days of the business, Portland, Maine has become a flourishing destination for foodies & beer-lovers as well as bead lovers! Portland is a historic seacoast town with a working waterfront and is full of galleries, one-of-a-kind shops, and award-winning restaurants. We are a member of Portland Buy Local, an independant business and community alliance. Our retail store frequently hosts special events for Bead Societies in Maine and New England.

The Caravan Beads Retail Store is full of beads and materials for jewelry-making. In addition to all the items on our website we have a large selection of special pendants, strands of African beads, shell and horn, semi-precious stone, freshwater pearls, tools and kits and everything else you might need. We teach all basic beading techniques for free every day we’re open, and have workshops each Friday and Saturday for more advanced projects. Our wholesale customers receive special discounts on just about every item.

You can walk around our retail store with a Virtual Tour from Google Maps. In 2013 we purchased the building next door and we recently installed large solar arrays on the roof of both buildings. We are always looking for ways to lessen our environmental impact, so in 2017 we added more heat pumps and converted all of our lighting to LEDs.

Barry is joined in managing the business by his daughters Heather & Jocelyn, and Heather's partner Jeff. Having their help in the business allows him to spend more time with his two granddaughters Faye and Lily. When away from the office Barry spends time woodworking, writing stories, cutting firewood for the wood stove, and inventing ingenious new devices.

Jean works full time as a nurse midwife at St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston. An amazing chef and gardener, she loves teaching Lily and Faye to cook and dig holes in the ground.

We all love meeting customers from near and far. We hope you'll take the opportunity to visit us someday if you are passing through Maine.