Going to Tucson from South Africa takes a lot of planning and is costly
We decided to travel to Phoenix and drive down to Tucson. A savings of almost R6000 for the two tickets. It takes about 2 hours of driving to get to Tucson from Phoenix.
We hired a large SUV and felt like Americans when we saw all the large fuel guzzlers on the road. Tucson is flat and unasuming .
The I 10 cuts right through the centre of Tucson. And most of the shows are fairly close or adjacent to the I 10. With 40 shows overlapping you need enough time to visit some of them. Everybody who is somebody in the gemstone world is here during this time.
We had a room in the Tucson Hotel City centre. Our stock was send two weeks before and just had to be picked up and delivered to our hotel. At the Hotel I had to carry 14 boxes up a flight of stairs to my room. There were no casual labour available to help. It almost killed me and my shoulder was sore for days afterwards. Each box weighed 30 kg
We chose to both sleep and exhibit in the same room. At ten in the morning you open your door and your room becomes a showroom. Because of the smaller size that an alexandrite display ocupies we only used half of the room. After the show closes at 6, you close your door and then it becomes a bedroom again.
Our acrylic display cases were made in South Africa and looked splendid with the alexandrite in them. Careful planning and good display meant that we were set up in a day. We took the first afternoon off to visit a few of the other shows that were also in the process of being set up. It is a complete scensory overload. Around every corner there is stones, Geodes, crystals and fossils.
How they all got there and where they will all be going after the show is anyones guess. But many of them land up in faraway places such as China, Russia and Japan. The show can be a bit of a drag. We were in the room for 14 days just waiting for customers. Some days were good and others were slower.
On the one Sunday they had superbowl Sunday and almost no visitors came. This is tough on the nerves. Everytime you close your room to go somewhere you might miss an important sale. We ended strong and for us it was a good show. We sold the bulk of our specimens and got a lot of orders as well. The overall response meant that we booked to be back next year at the same venue.
Our impressions of the show: The competition is fierce and the visitors have a big choice on where to spend their money. Pricing is competitive. Your stones have to be priced right and the right quality to get a slice of this market. For many dealers 2017 was a poor year due to an uncertain political climate in the USA. There were fewer visitors and less money was spend. We had a unique stone with a good name and that is why we did well.