This page features Show Reports, Travel Notes, and other Items of Interest as they strike my fancy.
This fabulous Red Fluorite from China will be on display in out room in Tucson
Here is the view of Mineral City Building C (before all the signage went up) and the view of our room from the hallway.
Leonard Himes Dealer in Fine Mineral Specimens
More about Tucson
If you have made it this far, I'm impressed. I hope you find the blog interesting.
The Chamber of Commerce in Tucson commissioned an economic survey of the 2019 Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase Expenditures.
Here are some of the findings.
They estimate a total of $131,426,030 in direct expenditures resulting from the 2019 Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase. Lodging is the largest individual expenditure category ($45,831,096) – followed by Food & Beverage ($27,154,625).
Out-of-town Buyers traveled to Tucson from 42 different states (as well as Puerto Rico) and 17 foreign countries. Exhibitors traveled from 45 states (including the District of Columbia) and 42 foreign countries.
The 2019 Showcase encompassed 48 individual shows and an estimated 4,882 Exhibitors. The 2019 total gate attendance was estimated to include 457,259 Buyers, each of whom visited 6.97 shows (on average) – for a projected attendance of 65,604 unique persons.
Fully 99% of Buyers purchased one or more items on-site at the shows, most often Gems/Jewelry and/or Rocks/Minerals/Fossils. Among international Buyers, two-thirds report cumulative on-site purchases in excess of $10,000.
They estimated that $13,028,205 in local taxes (including sales, bed and rental car taxes) were paid on $122,866,042 of taxable expenditures made by Owners, Exhibitors and Buyers at the 2019 Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase.
My comment: Notice that none of this actually comments on the sales of specimens although that is reflected in sales tax collections, but only partly since wholesale purchases must exceed retail and are not taxed. If attendee purchases average $10,000 (real easy to do) that gets to $50 million immediately, and that only counts official vendors, not all of the 'tailgaters who also do huge amounts of business. So Tucson is big business, my guess is at least half a billion dollars. No wonder the show is so much appreciated.
SOME HISTORY OF THE 2021 TUCSON SHOWS
The TGMS "Main Show" canceled for 2021. A major factor is the club's desire to protect their many older volunteers. Good Idea! But too bad for all of us who love seeing the exhibits. Also, many foreign dealers are unable to attend. Other major shows in Tucson that canceled early include Westward Look, AGTA, La Conquistador and GJX probably all due to the loss of foreign dealers.
Dealers in the Mineral City district (including the Sun Gem building) were allowed to open individual rooms because the buildings are technically warehouses. They followed health guidelines and some opened only by appointment. There was no official Mineral City Show in January-February, because it moved officially to April. Among those who opened were Graeber & Himes, Geokrazy, IC Minerals, Focal Crystal, Collectors Edge, Kristalle, Stonetrust, Iteco, Crystal Classics, Ausrox, Mountain Minerals International, Lehigh Minerals, The Sunnywood Collection, Shannons' Minerals, Greatful Earth Minerals, XTL-Dennis Beals and PuTzu.
The Mineral-City.com website map shows dealer locations. . Sun Gem is next door.
Local dealerships, like Madagascar Minerals, 1820 Oracle (which includes Top Gem, Clive Queit, Lehigh Minerals & Rocko), Mineral & Fossil Co-op, AZ Independent Warehouse Show, Superb Minerals, Jewel Tunnel, Midwest Minerals (with Dave Bunk there, too) and other brick and mortar businesses, were open, some only by appointment.
We opened early in Mineral City Building C room 27 and had steady business. It is the same room as last year and is best entered from Plata street. Our unit has its own off-street parking lot and there is even more convenient on-street parking. Graeber & Himes shared the oversized room with IC Minerals. For safety we limited the number of shoppers at any time, required face masks and hand sanitizer and provided gloves.
There were fewer shoppers in Tucson and we will limit the number of people in our rooms, and we offered the additional option of reserving a time for private shopping in our room.
We offered discounted minerals at our Mineral City room in separate room across the hall for our Just Minerals wholesale inventory. Our Keystone room replaces our usual Just Minerals Event which was rescheduled for April.
Over all the sales results for dealers in Tucson in January and February were good. Most shoppers were dealers looking for inventory to 'feed' their busy internet shops. There were few 'lookers' but many buyers. This was a repeat of the earlier show in Denver in September. Many dealers actually did better that in 2020's Tucson, probably due to the reduce number of shopping venues.
Tucson is changing, Part III
We thought our lives had stabilized and our future was known when I wrote the report below. The there was a pandemic and while the end of that is in sight, we hope, Tucson continues to change.
Major English dealer Ian Bruce is in the process of purchasing and renovating the Tucson Chamber of Commerce's former building at the corner of Granada by the Inn Suites or Hotel Tucson City Center. He plans for it to become the world headquarters of Mineral Classics. He has named it The Tucson Fine Mineral Gallery and it will have regular hours year round. Of course, it will be the site of a show each February and special events throughout the year. Wow!
Cal Graeber and I were invited by Ian to join Collector's Edge, Focal Crystal and Dreher Carvings as core dealers in the Gallery. We will not be there all year, but will attend special events, beginning with the 2022 Tucson show. We will also continue our Mineral City room with IC Minerals and Geokrazy during the TucsonGem and mineral Showcase.
Graham Sutton and his group have purchased the large storage building just west of Ian's new place on St. Marys Street and plan to convert it into another Fine Mineral venue similar to Mineral City, but maybe even classier. This is a major construction project and will not be available until 2023.
Tucson is changing, Part II
2020 was the last year for the Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show at"Inn Suites" show. It will move to much nicer rooms and ballrooms at the Hilton El Conquistador Hotel/Resort. I toured the facility to see what it is like and it is beautiful and spacious with no muddy parking lot. The rooms are NOT moldy and the plumbing DOES work. I think it is a great choice. The buildings are new and modern but I learned recently that there has been a magnificent El Conquistador in Tucson since the 1920s.
When I first went to the current hotel, it was for John Barlow's party to announce the new book on his collection. I thought I was driving to Phoenix before I got there; it was north on Oracle, way out in the country. Well, it is in the same place, but no longer in the country as the Oro Valley area has grown to be a city of luxury homes, restaurants and businesses. It is about two mile norths of Ina Road where Westward Look is a bit to the east and will overlap dates with that Fine Minerals Show. That should be good for booth events.
The original plans for the AZ M&F Show at La Conquistador might have been too ambitious. Only about 50 dealers had decided to participate, probably because the current owner of the Inn Suites (aka HTCC) decided to promote his own show after refusing to renew the show. Many dealers chose to stay because it met their needs. Many top dealers had already moved to Mineral City, too. I heard a lot of dealers say that the new location was too far north, but that didn't seem hurt Westward Look. Regardless of the reason, the enrollment was too low for the AZ M&F management to guarantee the dollars needed to hold the show. But within days, the hotel management volunteered to help the show go on by extended the due date for payment, allowing flexible scheduling for room dealers, and allowing the ballroom size to be adjusted to fit the number of dealers who wish to be there. That is an amazing behavior for a hotel, certainly what show management needed and unlike what we have seen for venues in Tucson previously. Maybe Hilton is just a classier venue! If you are a quality dealer looking for a venue, I recommend you give the show a chance.
The other news is that the area of our Just Minerals Event at the corner of Oracle and Lester Street in downtown Tucson has exploded into a major mineral center generally being referred to as Mineral City. We will continue in the Elks Lodge (northeast corner) for 3 days on opening weekend, but starting on Sunday in 2021. Across the street are the Sun Gem and the actual Mineral City. The Jewel Tunnel remodel of the old LaFuente Restaurant building ( southwest corner) is complete and there were even large tent shows nearby. Since Top Gem is already established adjacent to the Elks Lodge (northeast corner), this area is destined to be a major retail/wholesale venue for years to come. We understand that promoters are scrambling to purchase more real estate adjacent to the area for future expansion.
The TGMS Main Show continued to be the anchor of all the activity, of course The anticipated greatness of this year's theme of World Class Minerals was met spectacularly. Tucson is a wonderful town and it hosts the finest show in the world. If you haven't attended the show, put it on your calendar or 2021! Like many other dealers who are making changes to accommodate all of the new venues in Tucson, we downsized our booth this year, splitting it with Well Arranged Molecules. That worked well and we expect to be in the same place again next year just like we have been for a decade or more. By doing so, we were able to keep our Mineral City room open during TGMS and will in the future
Graham Sutton was the driving force behind building the physical plant of the Mineral City Show. Graham has been a miner for himself and Collector's Edge for years and is a major part of their Chinese operations and is also importing custom display cases from there. The partnership he is part of acquired a former office business property across the alley from the back entrance to the Mineral City building. The two office buildings there share a parking lot that is entered from La Plata Street, one street north of Lester St. During 2020 they modified these buildings to provide excellent selling spaces for dealers. Cal Graeber and I, along with Isaias Casanova and Geoff Krasnov operated Room C27 this year and will do so again in 2021. We arranged to have a double-sized room for fine minerals retail and equipped it with new high-quality cases and comfortable furniture. The buildings have direct access to the original Mineral City building. The alley between the buildings will be paved and gated at the ends to make a pedestrian walkway between the show areas. We understand that the area will feature food trucks and local ares with tables, etc, installed for use in 2021. In case the weather is cold or warm, as Tucson can be in February, our building is heated and air conditioned.
La Plata street also serves as extensive parking for many cars. But wait, there is more, Graham will oversee the construction of a completely new building on the remaining vacant lot east of our remodeled buildings. That building is planned to open for the 2021 show and will house many additional high end dealers.
For Graeber & Himes all of this meant some fancy footwork since the Mineral City show overlapped Westward Look and TGMS. But we pulled it off, shuffling staff between both Westward Look and TGMS to keep the Mineral City room open. We will do it again in 2021. We couldn't have done it without the help of Isaias and Geoff! Isaias and Geoff plan to downsize their TGMS booth for 2021, so one of them will be able to tend the Mineral City room daily along with someone from the Graeber and Himes' crew during TGMS for full service. We invite you all to join us there in 2021 especially for the Kick Off Party on opening day night.