End of an era as Nelson's iconic Bead Gallery finally shuts up shop

Odette Turner wearing a bead Mala (prayer beads),  outside the Bead Gallery in Hardy St which is closing at the end of April.
MARTIN DE RUYTER

Odette Turner wearing a bead Mala (prayer beads), outside the Bead Gallery in Hardy St which is closing at the end of April.

It's been a long time coming but Nelson's iconic Bead Gallery is closing its doors and emptying the shop for good.

The shop on Hardy St will be packing up its buddha, beads and jewellery on April 30 due to legal obligations.

Bead Gallery manager Odette Turner said it was "too complicated to get into" but since the owner Laurie Johnson died suddenly last May of heart failure, the Bead Gallery no longer had an owner.

Turner said Laurie had left his will unsigned and it was being disputed in court.

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For 25 years, the gallery has been the hub for keen bead fixers and foragers in Nelson. It started out small in a Parere St cottage, before moving to its present location at 153 Hardy St. 

Over the years, other Bead Gallery stores have opened and closed, including one in Richmond, Wellington and a second on Hardy St. 

Turner laughed as she said Johnson's two year closing down sale "was a bit ridiculous" so they had only given a month's warning that the shop would shut forever.

"For the public it will seem like we're always closing down, but this is the last shop, and this is the end."

Turner has set up Inspire, a jewellery and repairs business which she operates from home.

She said it would be exactly what she did at the Bead Gallery, just on a smaller scale.

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Turner had worked at the store for 16 years and had a good relationship with Johnson. After his death she said he appeared in a dream and told her she was pregnant before she even knew. She and her husband had been trying for a baby.

His wife Michelle Johnson said a few unexplained things had happened in the store since he died.

When she had gone to remove a photo of Johnson from the counter a fuse blew causing the lights in the store to go out.

The printer spat out a page with the word "help" while the computer displayed no such text. Michelle said a clairvoyant later told her she needed help in the business. 

A small amount of Johnson's ashes are set inside a giant glass bead which sits atop the Buddha in the store window.

Moving to Christchurch with her disabled son, Michelle was excited for the new chapter in her life. She has a job lined up in nursing.

"I've never lived anywhere else, it's my time to do something new."

As well as the beads, jewellery and shop fittings, the store's Buddha will be up for grabs with offers welcome. 

For those who "want a piece of Bead Gallery history", Michelle said. 

 - Stuff

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