The Tucson Gem Show – How to Prepare for It
by Judith Altman.
Now that the holidays are over, I’m shifting my focus to the huge Tucson Gem Show that’s held annually in Arizona in early February.
Whatever the size and duration of a gem show, however, there are a few things that I have learned that make the experience more pleasant and more successful.
Here are a few of the preparations I’m making for my upcoming buying jaunt to Tucson:
Tips for the Tucson Gem Show
I use a small rolling suitcase for all my gem show purchases. I used to use a large shoulder satchel, but that became too unwieldy and caused too much back pain.
It took some work to find the right rolling bag but I finally did.
The most important feature of my rolling suitcase is that it has a top opening, so that I can unzip the top and place my purchases in it with the bag still standing upright while I’m at the gem show. This makes it easier to deal with, given the crowds.
It also has front pockets that hold all the rest of my supplies. And here is what I bring along:
Ziptop plastic baggies
of various sizes
Some vendors provide paper bags or unsealed plastic bags – which can result in beads falling out and mixing together.
If a vendor does not put the beads in individual plastic ziptop bags, then I do so at the time of purchase.
I also tuck each receipt into the corresponding bag(s), and each night I make a list of what I bought from each vendor and its price.
In addition, I bring permanent markers so that I can write the price on each baggie.
Some vendors are too busy to provide itemized receipts and don’t mark each item individually. So I write the prices on the baggies myself, as the vendor is writing up my order. That way I can keep track of my costs.
My shopping list
While a great deal of my purchasing is based on what I find at the Tucson Gem Show, I do create a list ahead of time of what I need to get.
I write this in a small notebook along with the list of my regular vendors and their locations at the gem show.
I clip a pen onto the notebook so that as I find items that I want to comparison shop, I write down the vendor name and location, along with a description of the item and cost. This way I can remember to come back if I need to.
Proof of my Business
Of course, one pocket in my bag is for a ton of business cards and copies of my reseller license.
Although all the shows I attend are wholesale and they require a reseller license to get in, many times individual vendors will ask for a copy of it. Always have lots of copies on hand.
Personal Survival Items
One pocket of my rolling bag is for “taking care of me” items. Tissues, snacks and a water bottle are essential.
And as any of you know who have shopped at gem shows, it doesn’t take long for your hands to get dirty and to feel kind of grimy.
So I also bring along hand wipes or unscented baby wipes to clean up every once in a while. It helps me get through a long day.
More Tips for
Shopping at Bead and Gem Shows:
Bead Show Tips
Attending a bead show can be a fantastic but overwhelming experience. Faced with 200+ bead vendors, where do you start? How do you keep from overspending? How can you lug all your purchases around for hours? How do you keep track of the vendors you decide to buy from online later? You’ll enjoy guest author Kathy Reading’s fantastic bead show survival tips!
Tips for Attending Gem Shows
How to define your market and plan your gemstone purchases in advance so you can get in and out of a gem show without blowing your budget.
Judith Altman Designs