Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Skyscraper to Skyscraper

A follow to my article, page 32 of the current August 2014 Bead and Button: 

 I mentioned jobbing. A popular term in the eighties, jobbing is comparable to out-sourcing. Jobbing is procuring an item that you did not import to satisfy customer demands. I imagine Amazon or Ebay can be considered a conduit to this phenomenon. In the 80's and prior, manufacturers just had neither the time nor Google desktop to find that missing bead or rhinestone.  The city was our own personal marketplace or year-round bead show. We imported more than just Czechoslovakian glass beads: we had merchandise from Taiwan, West Germany,  Japan, the Philippines , India as well as domestic items, many from Providence, Rhode Island. Having this collection, and being in a big city can bring you many other requests. "Do you have SS20 crystal AB Rhinestones, Kidney Ear Wire, or maybe a 12/0 Three Cut in Opaque Gray? Companies had beads outside their specialty stranded in boxes.

These were the days where we let our "fingers do the walking", Yellow Pages were like our Bibles and you could go to the Directory of each Skyscraper lobby in the garment district  and discover a specialty Importer.  Having a store front was Great, but that hinted at the term "retailer". If you worked on the Sixteenth floor, and were willing to brave the elevator situation, you could find that Swarovski dealer of choice.

Or if you picked up the phone you may have 100 mass of 3mm Black Fire Polish at your door step much quicker than UPS or JABLONEX could deliver. Even African Trade Beads were a phone call away in Harlem.

These Skyscrappers in the garment district were like personal department stores. There were whole floors  of beady merchandise hidden from the street level eyes, much more exclusive than your favorite URL.

I  have studied bead history books, and I've noticed many New York-based importers from the 1920's and pre-WWII credited for importing that trendy "bead of the moment". Yet after the depression and the war, all of these companies disappeared. A new crop of bead import company sprouted up during this time, of which York Beads is one.

But when i was a "kid" ( just out college), there were importer names such as Sheru Bead, Morris Berger, Di-Mar Imports, Elliot Greene, Wall Bead, Eric and K Gottfried, and Wepra, Ruben Bead. Many of these companies were never well know to the public, as were not retail store fronts, but they were the hidden treasure chests of the New York Skyline. Names with change, syllables and all, but thebeads will not.

On My last Visit to CJS, which is also on an UPPER floor not meant for the Public, I noticed this box of stones in envelopes. While I am not a stone person, i am a vintage Person, and i noticed that these packages marked "K.S. & co.", and "Made in Austria", both signs of Vintage. One Stamped N.Levy Corporation, another name I  have never heard of, and were out of Providence in the same box of Morris Berger goodies. I have always said that beads leave a trail: Memories, markings and for some, a maddening mining march!