Store Spotlight: Blue Door Beads

VM Works is happy to shine the visual merchandising spotlight on Blue Door Beads, a woman-owned business located on vibrant Piedmont Ave in Oakland, CA. Their tagline is "we're so much more than just a bead store" and it's absolutely true. Blue Door Beads also offers classes, rents artist studio spaces, and hosts multiple events! It's clear that Blue Door Beads is less a bead store and more like a haven for the local beading community. Owner Sara Mancini designed a shop environment where customers feel welcome to hang out and create together.

With colorful thread and a handful of nails, Blue Door Beads urges customers to "Make & Create"

The large unobstructed windows give pedestrians a view of what's happening in the store. Once inside, the space gives off a cozy vibe without feeling constricting. The unfinished concrete flooring makes the customer feel like they're entering an artist studio while the houseplant, large rug, and soft chair near the door reminds them of walking into a friend's living room.

Blue Door Beads' unobstructed entrance creates an inviting space for customers to enter

Considering the TINY inventory and VAST array of merchandise, it would be easy for a customer to feel overwhelmed in a bead store; but in Blue Door Beads the categories are well organized and customers easily navigate their way around the store. Tools are all merchandised together, spools of chain are neatly displayed, and beads are color-blocked throughout the store. 

Blue Door Beads' fixture layout makes it easy for customers to navigate through the store.

It would have been easy for Sara to throw hooks on a slatwall fixture and call it a day but she knew her target customers were crafty people who would appreciate more creative displays. All around her shop, you can find charming household items used to display merchandise from an iron skillet to muffin tins. 

Blue Door Beads cleverly uses kitchen supplies as props to merchandise their product

The store fixtures are repurposed shutters, dressers, cabinets, and bookshelves. She even used an old door and corrugated tin to build her own cash wrap.

Blue Door Beads' custom made, repurposed cash wrap painted in the signature blue color

In addition to repeating the signature blue color, Sara also took the time to curate a nice gallery of blue door photos behind the register. The branding message is clear without screaming out the logo. It's an artistic and impactful way to cover negative space in what would otherwise have been a non-productive area of the store.

A gallery of blue door photos hang behind the cash wrap

The door leading to the artist studios and the workshop area where classes are held is painted the signature blue and subtly reaffirms the branding message.

The famous blue door

Even more impressive than their attention to branding is Blue Door Beads' care for their customers' comfort. Reading glasses are conveniently provided in the store for those who need them.

Blue Door Beads provides reading glasses for customers while they shop

It's clear that Sara and her team want customers to feel right at home, hang out, and get creative. There is a large work table surrounded by cheerful green chairs where people are invited to gather and encouraged to use the tools for free. Sara drilled holes into an old spool and used fishing hooks to create a tool caddy.

Blue Door Beads' communal work table

No matter where you turn, there is something to delight customers in this shop. There is the bust form draped in burlap that is totally aligned with their target customer's design aesthetics (and also makes the chunky necklaces stand out more). 

A boring bust form is transformed with burlap and T-pins

There is effective and strategically placed lighting throughout the store. There is an attractive color story. There is so much that Blue Door Beads is doing right! I have plenty more photos and examples but I urge independent retailers to visit this shop if possible and see it for yourself. Kudos to Sara for being so in tune with her customers and for keeping them engaged at every opportunity!

Blue Door Beads shop entrance

Blue Door Beads is located on 4167 Piedmont Ave in Oakland, CA. Find out more at