Walking into Beads by the Bay in Morro Bay, it becomes very evident that this is not just a store — you are walking into a community. This community is made up of all walks of life; do-it-yourself jewelers, crafters and people just walking in to greet the shop kitty (whose name is Shop Kitty). 

“It’s always funny to me, it seems that people really make connections in the store,” said owner Susan Stewart. “It’s become a real destination with a really special feel to it.”

Stewart says patrons of the store chat with each other, come up with solutions to each other’s crafting hurdles and have even had customers find out they’re related while shopping for beading supplies.

Thirteen years ago, Stewart was doing construction-related work and as the economy tanked, times were getting tough. The current owner of a second bead store in Cambria made Stewart, a beading hobbyist at the time, an offer to take over the business or the store would close up for good.

Stewart took a leap of faith and has kept the store open ever since.

Beads by the Bay has no shortage of inventory with beads made of glass, stone, shell, bone, seaglass, freshwater pearls, and the list goes on.

In addition to beads, the store sells pre-made jewelry, charms, stained glass window art, windchimes, etc.

The store also does jewelry repairs or can offer customers instructions on restringing, repairing, or how to start a DIY beading project.

Outside, the back end of the store is an inviting garden area complete with a fish pond and home to a large stock of plants such as succulents, air plants, seasonal herbs and local white sage. They also have a garden-potting station where you can choose from their selection of terra cotta or bonsai pottery and pot a plant right there in the back of the shop.

Beads by the Bay also has everything you need for creating your own miniature fairy garden — a perfect all-ages project.

Aside from merchandise, Beads by the Bay also offers a schedule of classes each month including basic beading, jewelry making, wire wrapping, or whatever patrons are into and the garden space can even be used for events and parties. 

So whether you are a novice to beading, an expert jeweler, or just want to bring your dog and drink your coffee in the tranquil garden area, anyone would be sure to leave this store inspired to create something beautiful.