Walla Walla Bead Company runs with (re)purpose

Much of the new shop's decorations and goods are recycled or reused, owner Darlene Steiner said.

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Darlene Steiner, owner of Walla Walla Bead Company, is reflected in a reused mirror, one of the many reused, repurposed or found items throughout her store used to display products. Steiner estimates that more than 90% of the display, decoration and other items used to sell jewelry and beads are from recycled, reused or repurposed items. Constantly on the lookout for new or seasonal items, she takes almost daily trips to local thrift stores. Thursday, October 28, 2010

WALLA WALLA -- A new local store is going out of its way to incorporate environmentally friendly and economical practices into all aspects of its business.

Walla Walla Bead Company on Main Street, which opened three months ago, uses 90 percent recycled, reused and repurposed decorations and goods in its store.

"Pretty much everything (is recycled, reused or repurposed)," said owner Darlene Steiner.

Steiner bought the majority of the decorations in her store from Goodwill, Salvation Army, garage sales, thrift stores and other stores that went out of business.

She purchased her tables and tablecloths from Hollywood Video.

Her cash register, the hooks that hold the beads and her paper towels came from a scrapbooking store that went out of business in Pendleton.

Steiner bought the dishes that hold the beads from the Salvation Army.

The chairs, furniture, curtains, microwave, refrigerator, lamps, light fixtures and curtains were all reused as well. Even the paint on the store's walls is recycled.

"We had paint that we used before and my husband just buys the big buckets and we just mix our own colors. So we might find two or three colors that we like and he will mix them together and create our own color," Steiner said. Steiner notes that the inventory is the only thing she purchased new.

"The beads (are the only things we purchase new). And we do use some beads that are vintage beads that we wash up and clean," Steiner notes.

Every day from 9 to 10 a.m., Stiener stops by the Walla Walla Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul stores to look for new items.

Steiner uses recycled, reused and repurposed materials because they are not only economical, but also environmentally friendly.

If she is unable to use an item the way it is, she modifies the object to make it work in her store.

When Steiner needs to buy something new, she tries to buy the item on clearance.

"It's economical and there is so much great stuff out there that people are getting rid of that can be used in a lot of different ways" she said.

Steiner uses these same principles in her home. She found some of her clothes at thrift stores and she purchases items for her home when shopping there.

The classes at the Bead Company often focus on reusing materials and many of the items in her store are made of recycled items.

Some of the jewelry at the store is made out of reused Scrabble pieces or dominoes. Customers seem to appreciate Steiner's effort to reuse goods, she said.

"They're pleased. We are pretty frugal with everything we do."

Steiner said the store environment also benefits in that it is unique.

"It is not your same run-of-the-mill stuff that you find at every store. It is stuff that is sometimes from all over the place. I have lamps from India, I have something from another country. I might have a really pretty brass dish that somebody brought back from vacation. I don't have to go outside the area to find something that is different or unique," she said. Joe Volpert can be reached at joevolpert@wwub.com.

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