The Bead Shack offers jewelry, signature T-shirts and hometown hospitality
By Galen Holley
Special to the Gazette
NEW ALBANY – Christy Ray came to admire delicate, Ronaldo jewelry, but her husband, Rob, liked the fashionable, rugged shirts from Oxford-based Properly Tied, so she had two reasons to shop in downtown New Albany.
“This place is friendly, hometown, and carries the brands we like,” said Ray, as she walked through the showroom at The Bead Shack on Bankhead Street.
Owner Kelley Brunetti gladly opened the case for her friend and long-time customer, and showed Ray gleaming selections with special names and significance.
The “Faith” design had golden, diamond-shaped sections, cradling a pearl center, Brunetti explained.
The “Dawn” design featured a smooth, golden band, framing white topaz.
The “Waverly” design showcased synthetic diamonds, strung together, like the glistening episodes of a pleasant dream.
Brunetti closed the case, and told Ray to take her time and just ask if she needed anything.
“We have so many wonderful, regular customers, and they tell us what they need, and it’s a friendly, low-pressure environment,” said Brunetti, as she rearranged her boutique’s signature t-shirts, and looked out at the gathering, afternoon clouds.
The Bead Shack opened in 2001, at a different location on Bankhead Street. Brunetti and her husband, Charles, bought the store in 2011.
“We wanted a business that anchored us downtown,” said Brunetti.
After receiving their degrees from Mississippi State University, the Brunettis, Christy, a certified financial consultant, and West Union graduate, and Charles, a Delta native, who specializes in sports landscaping, took a brief sojourn into Yankee territory – check that, Red Sox territory--working in Boston, before returning to establish roots in New Albany.
Amid the blizzard of big, box stores and retail giants blanketing the American landscape, The Bead Shop offers artisanship and finery, Brunetti said, items truly beautiful, and a downtown, walking-and-shopping experience, close to great restaurants, in small-town America.
Shopping in downtown New Albany is a great day trip for girlfriends, Brunetti said. .
“We have so many great boutiques and shops, along with wonderful food and hospitality,” Brunetti said. “We’re really proud of the downtown community and are eager to welcome visitors.”
Brunetti was busy finalizing details about an upcoming festival she helped plan.
Clayton Forman was only about a month old when he passed away in the summer of 2016, and Brunetti helped organize a festival in his honor, benefitting local charities.
This year’s festival, on June 9, at the courthouse square, will benefit First Choice Center for Women, in New Albany, which serves women facing unplanned pregnancies.
“The festival, which will feature food vendors, live music and a color run, is a small tribute to the life and legacy of Clayton and the people who loved him,” said Brunetti,” holding up one of the event t-shirts she carries in the store.
T-shirts are a main attraction at The Bead Shack, from brands like Over and Under, and Land and Sea.
Katie Kidd stopped in to pick up a t-shirt as a graduation gift.
“I love the jewelry and shirts here, and the staff is always friendly,” said Kidd.
Two doors down Bankhead St., Brunetti has another Bead Shack store that specializes in children’s items.
“We want to be the hairbow center of northeast Mississippi,” Brunetti said, smiling and pointing to the tremendous selection on the wall.
“I have no children of my own, but 20 wonderful kids in my life,” Brunetti said, laughing and smiling as she spoke lovingly of her nieces, nephews, and children of her friends.
A large, stuffed giraffe stood guard at the window, as Kelli Burks and Hannah Howell arranged the cute little clothes and toys.
“I love the girls that work for me,” Brunetti said. “This place wouldn’t run without them.”
Renae Koon started at The Bead Shack in its first incarnation in 2001. She has been with Brunetti throughout her tenure.
“I just love working with people, my coworkers and customers both. Times change, and trends come and go. It’s just a pleasure to work with the public.”
Shana Rakestraw and her mother, Mary Lynn selected a unique and unusual item, wax chips and spray mist scented like Jolly Rancher candy.
“We come here a lot, and it’s always a wonderful experience and they’re very sweet, nice people,” said Rakestraw.
Brunetti thanked Rakestraw for her business, and saw her out with a smile.
“I just love what I do,” said Brunetti. “Downtown New Albany is a great environment in which to work and the people are wonderful. I really enjoy it.”
The Bead Shack and Bead Shack Kids are open Mon. – Fri., 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Saturdays 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Visit Brunetti’s website at www.shopthebeadshack.com and visit the store’s pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.