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Shipwreck Beads’ Summer Artisan Market

This year’s Summer Artisan Market will include food from Hawk’s Prairie Casino, Serious Pizza, Tijuana Taco, TNT Espresso and Warthog Barbecue Pit, plus, Hawaiian shaved ice. Photo courtesy Shipwreck Beads

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It isn't often most people get to say this, but holy hand grenade: That's a lot of beads.

Shipwreck Beads is a quick jog off Interstate 5 from the Marvin Road exit in Lacey. First-time visitors, lured, no doubt, by the catchy radio jingle, are often stunned into an overwhelmed silence, jaws agape. "People do have that reaction," agrees the store's buyer and event coordinator, Beth Simmons. "It's kinda like, ‘Whoooaaa.'" Any reader picturing a quaint, dusty shoppe staffed by a snoozing grandma will experience a similar jolt. It's the reaction for which the Greeks invented the exclamation "Eureka." That's because Shipwreck Beads fills a 22,000-square-foot showroom with over 30 aisles, eight cashiers, hundreds of beadwork books and accessories and literal billions of beads, the lifeblood of its thriving catalog, retail and phone-order business.

How big is a billion? In seconds, it's about the length of time Drake has been alive. Emilia Clarke, mother of dragons on Game of Thrones, is also a billion seconds old, give or take. A billion dollars is the combined, median income of 17,000 average American households. In beads, it's, well -- one simply has to see to believe it. Simmons, who co-manages the store with her husband Pat, estimates their emporium carries over 40,000 different products. They fill the showroom from floor to ceiling in an explosion of colors and styles. In a word, it's beadvana, which is why beaders and non-hobbyists alike owe it to themselves to check out Shipwreck Beads' "Summer Artisan Fair" this Saturday.

"This is our sixth summer market," said Simmons, "our 11th market overall. We do the summer market and then we do a winter market the Saturday after Thanksgiving." The Simmonses devised these fairs as a way of celebrating and highlighting "creative minds" in the area: "not just our customers but other artisans. So it's open to any handmade, artisan goods: woodworking, pottery, clothing. It doesn't have to have beads." This summer's returning artists of note include landscape and wildlife photographer Chuck Flewelling alongside gifted jewelers, wind chime carvers, Miracle Body Butter, yarn from Wild Wool Farm and plenty of others. Throw in the spicy pickles crafted by Pigtail Creations, of which Simmons notes, "Those are an employee favorite. She brings cases, 'cause our employees buy her out."

Among the food and beverage vendors catering to hungry guests will be Hawk's Prairie Casino, Serious Pizza, Tijuana Taco, TNT Espresso and Warthog Barbecue Pit. "We'll also have a Hawaiian shaved ice," added Simmons. "I'm really looking forward to that one, especially if it's hot." Attendance amped up to about 4,000 last year when Northwest Military signed on as a partner. To ease the resulting congestion, the event added two free shuttles to carry guests to and from the nearby Hawks Prairie Park & Ride every 15 minutes.

SUMMER ARTISAN MARKET, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 25, Shipwreck Beads, 8560 Commerce Place Dr. NE, Lacey, free, 800.950.4232,

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