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8th St. Marketplace, Boise ID

About Us


Cole & Ustick, Boise ID

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Garden City, ID


Our Story


Bead Street was established in 1990 by owner Eileen Barker.  We first opened in a small shop in the Eighth Street Marketplace, located in downtown Boise.  We expanded into an 1800 square foot business located on the southwest corner of Cole and Ustick, right next to what was then JoAnn's Fabrics.

Over the years we grew into a 4000 square foot retail and mail-order business with the largest inventory in the northwest.  We owe this success to our wonderful customers - many of which have been with us since day one.

Our staff included trained professional bead artists, jewelry designers and consultants, and nationally acclaimed beading instructors.  Bead Streets owner, Eileen Barker is a 2012 through 2018 member of the Starman's Trendsetter Team.  As a member, she not only got to see the very newest beads manufactured in the Czech Republic, she also was a member of a group responsible for creating new designs utilizing these beads.  Because of this, our customers are in the leading edge of beading designs.  Eileen has had her beading designs published in Bead and Button, Bead Work and Germany's Perlen Posie magazines as well as Kalmbach's Creative Beading book, Vol 12.

Email  or call 208-336-9707  for product availability or any other questions you may have.

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Eileen's Story


Eileen’s fascination with beads started at the age of five at her grandmother's side.  Eileen's newly widowed and incredibly creative grandmother  took care of her while her parents worked.  Her Grandmother was making quilts and many other craft items, all in an effort to provide income for her family.  Eileen learned many skills and greatly benefited from her grandmother's creative expertise.  One day Grandma  and Eileen walked to downtown Downey (California) to buy needles and thread.  Entering Woolworth's Five & Dime, Eileen saw these tiny glass tubes filled with even tinier glass beads topped off with a cork.  Thus the journey began.

After graduating college in the mid 1930's, Eileen's parents originally moved to Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.;  her father working for the Government Printing Office, her mother for Treasury.  During the war, her father enlisted and mom  went  to Rio de Janeiro where she was the Chief Disbursing Officer counting out payroll to American troops stationed there.   After the war,  her parents took Grandma and moved west to California where they both grew cut flowers while still working for the government.  Cook's Gladiola Gardens  became the third largest gladioli grower in California where Dad was the hybridizer and grower, Mom the accountant, financial manager and delivery gal.  So while Eileen and her sister spent a great deal of their time with their grandmother,  Eileen was also learning how to run a business at a very early age; packaging flowers, collecting and counting change, while dealing with customers in her roadside stand.


                      An article about Bead Street and Eileen

                     in the Idaho Statesman July 22, 1994

After retirement from the Corporate world, Eileen took on more responsibilities at the store by designing jewelry, writing project instructions, and teaching classes  while still buying products, packaging, traveling nationwide (and then worldwide) to attend bead shows, design workshops and craft conferences.  While sharing an office/retail complex with her Czech glass supplier, the Starman Family, she learned graphic design, continued designing jewelry, and  illustrating instructions where they were published in Bead and Button, Bead Work, and  Germany's Perlen Poesie magazines as well as Creative Beading, Vol 12 published by Kalmbach.


On November 12, 2012  Eileen wrote a blog post about how fortunate she was that beads were a part of her life, for meeting the wonderful people because of them, and how she was now selling products worldwide.  This was the beginning of  the Starman Trendsetter program with Eileen becoming a founding member.  She provided input on the new CzechMates line as well as helping select the colored glass for Nichole's new creations.    As part of the Trendsetter team,  she was one of the first people to see and use the newest bead designs manufactured in the Czech Republic. 


Because of her passion with beads, Eileen has had many opportunities to travel the entire United States and around the world.  From the bead factories in the Czech Republic, the flea markets in Paris (and throughout France), the Grand Bazaar shopping in Istanbul, the Italian hill town markets  and even the English countryside;  all have enabled Eileen to directly import products and offer many unique items not available in the U.S.  For example, Eileen's Leather Wrap Bracelet kits include a one-of-a-kind French antique button as a closure.   Her website continues to be a work in progress and some items may never get added because of time constraints.   If you are trying to source a particular item and can’t find it, let us know.  We may just have it in the ‘back room’.  

Eileen speaks often about how grateful she is for her Grandmothers creativity and the influence she and her parents had on her life. So much inspiration from the 'back seat of a station wagon'  that became a method to help reduce stress,  evolving into a second career filled with incredibly beautiful jewelry and wonderful lifelong friendships.  Truly remarkable from something so tiny


A big, big, thank you goes out to our customers for allowing Eileen and the Bead Street family to thrive as long as it has.  We feel so fortunate for your support.  


Because her extended family still lived on the east coast, her parents made a road trip every summer to visit.  Think 1950’s, long before seat belts, entertainment in a car, and the way to pass the time was to count different colored cars, read billboards or sing songs.  So Eileen and Grandma made beaded wrap bracelets in the back seat using shoe laces for the leather, dental floss for thread, and handmade ‘rolled’ paper beads they had made prior to the trip.   With the leather safety pinned to the back of the cloth-drivers seat,  Eileen's expertise in jewelry making and design took a foothold.  From 1950 to 1964, these summer trips continued with increasingly more complicated projects. 

Eileen helping her Dad plant flowers at age 3. Notice the mason jar on her knee?  Her favorite container to hold any 'found gems'.

In 1972, Eileen and her very young children found themselves living in Idaho.  Like her grandmother,  Eileen started crafting items, painting pictures etc. and found a couple of local galleries to sell her products.  Graduating with a BA from Boise State University, she worked as a Data Processing Programmer, Systems Analyst and eventually an IT Bureau Chief where she was working 60 hours a week supporting employees with broken computers.  Her  stressed life needed an outlet, so she took up beading again and one day, years later,  found herself with a roomful of beads that surpassed the biggest bead store around.  In 1992  she opened Bead Street in what was then the 8th Street Market Place with her daughter, now in her early twenties, managing the store.

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