A Pitt Meadows business owner’s commute is about to get a lot shorter.
Kellie Sutton, who owns Kellie’s Bead Boutique, is set to shutter her brick and mortar store on Harris Road later this summer and shift the business online.
The change was spurred by a number of factors including rising commercial rent costs, the pandemic and Sutton’s own health.
“I’m hoping that this makes me happier because I have just been so unhappy lately,” she said in a video posted to her popular YouTube account. “I paint on a happy face, but really I spend a lot of time very sad and very nervous and scared about the future because it’s been a really, really tough go the last two years with this pandemic.”
Sutton has owned the bead supply business for 13 years, bouncing around locations in Ridge Meadows. The store has been at its current location at 12528 Harris Road in Pitt Meadows for the last five years.
2019 was actually a banner year for the business, which has two separate arms: an online e-commerce website, and a brick and mortar store. In 2020, the storefront was closed for about four months by choice to minimize potential health impacts on her employees’ older relatives. During that time, the volume of online orders picked up and many people were doing local pick-ups. All in all, business wasn’t bad in 2020 or 2021, but this year, it’s a bust.
“This year has been horrifying,” she said. “Awful. Just terrible.”
Before the boutique, Sutton designed and created a successful line of jewelry that was sold in more than 80 stores across the country. When she decided she had enough of designing, she was left with a supply of beads and other tiny pieces, so she opened a store.
Classes were a big part of the business before the pandemic, with customers coming in to learn how to make specially-designed bracelets or necklaces.
The space in the store dedicated to classes had to be converted into a shipping area to accommodate the website orders.
Sutton also has a “fairly healthy” YouTube channel of nearly 84,000 subscribers who tune in weekly for new videos. On the channel she teaches viewers techniques to make jewelry pieces like earrings and necklaces, as well as posting how-to videos for projects. The latest video takes viewers through the steps to make a bracelet inspired by HGTV personality Christina Haack.
“There’s still that desire for learning that has never gone away,” Sutton said.
Not closing down, just transitioning to online sales
Sutton said it’s been bittersweet sharing the news with customers. Some have been with her since the beginning.
“Everybody is kind of bummed out,” she said. “It’s hard for me to hear that over and over again.”
Sutton plans to sell supplies on her website, running the online business from a warehouse on her Mission property.
Sutton said she knows people like to come into the store to see the beads in person but she won’t be able to have customers at the warehouse, even for local order pick-ups due to insurance.
She’s looking forward to the pace of her business slowing down a little bit. Sutton is hoping to have more time to spend with her family and the freedom to be more creative with the videos she posts.
The store is already promoting sales and customers may notice dwindling stock at the store, but that’s not to say there won’t be plenty of options online. Sutton and her staff are planning to transition to the warehouse by the end of August, when the store’s lease is up.