Sometimes you don’t realize how much a place means to you until it’s gone.I found out a few days ago that treasured bead haven Byzantium will close its doors after 25 years. The store is hosting a closing sale between now and the end of the month. Here’s a copy of the letter that owner Joyce Griffiths sent to customers, as well as a recent Short North Gazette article about the history of the business.
I first frequented Byzantium when it was next to the King Avenue Coffee House. As a tormented teen whose obsession turned from stickers to beads, Byzantium was a sandalwood-infused hideout. It was that cruelty-free-zone where all of the employees were twirly hippie chicks you secretly wished were your older sisters. Inside of Byzantium, I was safe from adolescent tension and academic pressure. It was my happy place. Ten years ago it moved to a Short North space with bounds of natural light perfect for showcasing Japanese pottery, African masks, Buddha statues, Indian incense, and galaxies of beads.
This sort of feels like finding out about Santa Claus. Byzantium was an adult escape where I took jewelry-making classes and endlessly rifled through vintage beads. But I’m also grateful because I know that not everyone got to grow up with a Byzantium in their lives. So thank you to all of the inspiring women (and men) who worked there. Thanks for always offering me clasp advice, fixing my beaded mishaps, and for providing so many of us with a magical, cultural playground.