Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show- First Round

Who could resist this wonderful piece?

It looks good from both sides.

I thought that this agate looked like one of my lampwork beads.

We'll be selling these online and in Alaska at shows.

I can hardly skip a chance to go to the Tucson Gem and Mineral show since it's only 90 miles from our house. In the past I would fly down from Alaska to load up on supplies. I couldn't imagine anything more exciting than acres of beads, gems and minerals of every shape and from all over the world. The timing was perfect for a mid-winter escape from the darkness and cold of an interior Alaskan winter. Running into fellow Alaskan designers and bead shop owners is not uncommon among the 40 plus shows that the gem show offers. I would act as if I were on someone else's expense account and load up on enough supplies that I would sometimes need to buy an extra piece of luggage at a thrift store to haul it all home.

The first few years I went I was trying to sell at a bead show and shared a booth with a fellow Alaskan beadmaker and David Bennett. It was a "learning experience" and you all know what that means as far as sales go. It was maddening to be stuck inside a venue selling nothing when there were gorgeous clear sunny desert days beckoning us outside. I've done better at a one day farmer's market in Alaska! The third year I thought that at least I could do an outdoor show and enjoy the benefits of sunny weather while I was set up. This time we were set up at ABC Direct, a local bead store in Tucson and wouldn't you know it, it was so damn cold and windy that I was wearing my Alaska down jacket, Mountain Heather hat and gloves and shoppers seemed to be discouraged from venturing to outdoor shows. Snow was dusting the mountains around Tucson.

Three strikes did it, I vowed to just go as a buyer from then on and really enjoy the time and get to see everything without the time constraints of working around my show schedule.

It was a good strategy and so much more enjoyable. There was even an unexpected benefit one year. I had met "a man of interest" in Fairbanks two weeks previous to the show back in "05. I was fascinated that he was a licensed gemologist and archaeologist and was delighted to find out that he'd be attending the show during the same time frame as myself. We exchanged email addresses and that was that. My sister came along to the show with me to keep me company and visit. I had mentioned that there was a man I was interested in that would be attending the show but I had no idea how we might connect. (that was before either of us had deigned to get cellphones) Whether he checked his email while away from home was unknown and I didn't have regular access to internet either then. (my, times have changed)

My sister and I were sitting in a shuttle bus at the main lot. You need to realize that there are dozens of shuttle buses going to up to 40 different shows and it's kind of a cluster%*#! for sure.
We were sitting in the back row of a nearly full bus and there was somewhat of a delay. the bus driver said, "Wait, one more person" and Mr. Alaska Gem man sits right down beside me! I whisper to my sister "That's the guy!"

We only had the bus ride to converse as he was meeting up with some other folks and we were headed to a different show. He looked flustered and sweaty and late for an important date.

The funny thing was that just a few rows ahead some people heard us talking and say "Are you Kimberly Rogers from Alaska? We've been looking for you" It turned out to be some Skagway, Alaska folks that wanted to see my work for their shop Heart of Broadway a gallery in Skagway that carries distinctive handmade jewelry.

This was quite a fortuitous shuttle bus ride as I ran into Mr. Alaska Gem two weeks later at Fred Meyer store in Fairbanks at 8:30 AM when I was expediting for my job. He lived 100 miles away which made it even a more unlikely meeting. That's when he asked me out and we've been together ever since! And Heart of Broadway picked me up as an artist as well! Two years later we married and three years later David and I decided to split our time between Alaska and Arizona.

Back to the gem show story now. Now that we have easy access to the gem show I have been scaling back on my purchasing for a number of reasons. There is so much to see but I feel I'm almost getting numb to the abundance of offerings and some of the shows seem repetitive. The quality has cheapened in many of the bead shows ( Not the artisan crafted bead shows) There are more and more of the stone beads of gaudy colors and dyed imitations everywhere you look. It quickly becomes visual overload for me and I usually get a headache and low backache after several hours of the visual stimulation. After the third or fourth booth displaying the same wonderful minerals or geodes the size of small people I reach my saturation point yet I know that I could never skip a show either. It draws me in like an intoxicant. And I get the subsequent hangover from it I guess. It certainly isn't as much fun when I'm not buying much either!

Yesterday we primarily attended the mineral show since the big shows hadn't yet started. Many booths were still unpacking and setting up and we took advantage of the pre-crowd shopping.
I did spot a good deal on some ammonite slices that were pre-packaged in a sweet little bamboo box that we'll be offering at some of out Alaskan shows that allow resale.

I bought an agate that reminded me so much of one of my lampwork beads that I had to get it. It's about 6 times the size of one of my beads though. I frugally bought some needed supplies of small zip lock baggies and some Beadalon stringing wire too.

My biggest impulse buy was the table made from a Chinese cypress tree root- Haung Yang. I couldn't resist it and he was offering a reasonable price that sealed the deal.

All in all I was proud of myself for exhibiting restraint in spending. We'll be heading to a bead show on Sunday for some more findings and and again next week to the AGTA at the Convention Center and GJX where my husband likes to see the latest offerings in the gem world and has been attending for the last 20 years.

1 comment:

  1. oh I tried the open air market thingy too and it is not for me!!! LOL!!


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