Beads shop a dream come true for owners


In the summer of 1969, Phil Fischman walked into his first bead store on the New Jersey boardwalk.

At just 15 years old, he thought it would be nice to one day own a bead shop in a little beach town a few blocks from the ocean. More than three decades later, his dream came true.

“This is exactly what I asked for when I was 15 years old,” said Fischman, as he looked around Beads, Crystals and More, an Encinitas-based shop he owns with his wife, Valeri Okun. “It just took 35 years to catch up to that vision.”

Fischman and his wife have owned the store for the last 16 years of its 23-year history. Located at 967 South Coast Hwy 101, the roughly 1,600-square-foot store offers a variety of beads, crystals, jewelry and antiques.

“We have beads in the store that are 6,000 years old from sacred religious places in the world where Judaism and Christianity originated, and for children, we have little pieces of plastic with puppies on it,” Fischman said. “I love seeing children play, and I love seeing adults get stimulated culturally, intellectually and spiritually.”

A New Jersey native, Fischman is a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America. He worked for Zales for nearly a decade.

With a passion for jewelry, Fischman has created numerous pieces for his wife of 21 years. For her 43rd birthday, he spent several weeks secretly crafting 43 pairs of earrings. When he ran out of materials after the 42nd pair, he visited the local bead shop and learned it was just days from foreclosure after being on the market for years.

The couple decided to use their life savings to save the place.

“I was the exact right person to walk through the door that day,” recalled Fischman, who has lived in the community for more than 20 years. “They were just about ready to give up and close the doors.”

From the chains to the charms, Fischman selects every piece he sells in his store.

“I buy everything like it’s a gift for my wife, my mom, my dad,” he said. “I don’t buy things to sell to other people; I buy things that I love and I would gift to the people I love the most. Our clients appreciate that. They know that when they come in, they’re going to find the nicest things we could find. We give loving attention to everything we do.”

Years ago, he purchased gold charms that read, “Rescued.” Although he intended on selling the charms, after they arrived, he decided to give them to customers who rescue animals, which he continues to do to this day.

Fischman and his wife rescued their first cat, Jasper, when they first moved in together, and later adopted Topaz. After the 2007 wildfires, the couple adopted a badly burned kitten. Burned on his face and paws, Lava spent six months in intensive care.

Fischman is currently writing a book about Lava’s recovery.

Since welcoming Lava, the couple has adopted cats Opal and Onyx from the Rancho Coastal Humane Society.

“My wife and I are examples of, and we are living, the American Dream,” said Fischman, who supports local schools, shelters and the Escondido-based Ecolife Foundation.

“We’re grateful that we’ve got something that pays the bills and supports our lives. It’s a very special thing for us. It’s more than a business. It gives us the opportunity to be creative, to be generous, to be in touch with nature and to be part of the community.”

Beads, Crystals and More is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

For more about the store, call 760-942-5222 or visit