A wholesale bead store recently opened in South Tucson.

Gem & Bead Mall Inc., at 2901 S. Fourth Ave., is a 26,000-square-foot beading mecca, carrying more than 50,000 items from locations including China, Brazil and Thailand.

The store carries products ranging from strands of gemstone beads to sterling- silver pendants and jewelry-making tools.

It also offers jewelry-making classes.

Gem & Bead Mall stores are also located in Las Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix and San Marcos, Calif. The company offers franchise opportunities.

Customers can sign up for a membership to get the wholesale prices, which are typically 20 to 50 percent less than retail, said store manager Rachel Lui.

Membership fees are $45 for the public and $25 for those with a resale license, Lui said. However, the company is currently offering $20 off the membership fee.

If you go

Gem and Bead Mall Inc., 2901 S. Fourth Ave. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Jewelry-making classes begin Saturday. Prices and times vary, depending on class and instructor.

Call 882-4177 for details.

Angela Pittenger