We all talk about the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase (the Chamber of Commerce's official name of the craziness) as amazing, and for good reason. We have done a lot of shows in a lot of towns over the decades, but no place appreciates the shows as much as the City of Tucson. There is a good reason for that too, Tucson businesses and tax collectors profit mightily from the mineral gem and fossil tourism; according to BizTucson, the regional business magazine, the 2014 event (the latest I have figures for) generated $120 Million in direct spending by visitors and dealers and $10.7 million in sales tax collections. We pack the hotels and restaurants and dealers spend huge amounts for storage facilities and support items. I've purchased business supplies, carpet, lighting and display equipment, car tires, batteries, and repairs and I'm sure I am not alone. I understand that the show weeks account for 20% of the annual hospitality business income! I have also attended concerts and opera performances and enjoyed many tourist attractions. Tucson is like a second home; I calculate that I have lived there an accumulated four years, at least, without ever being a resident. So it was particularly nice when I saw the following cartoon on the editorial page of the Tucson Daily Star, the city's best newspaper this year.
A big deal in Tucson this year is the opening of the Mineral City Show in a custom built facility across the street from the Elks Lodge. This was announced last February and construction started in summer. Reports through Autumn were that construction was behind schedule. I drove by in January and saw lots of workers still there. There were also lots of frustrated dealers with truckloads of cabinets and inventory waiting to get in. The available date slipped back daily. The Grand Opening party was scheduled for Feb. 1 long ago. It happened, although the building was not fully open until the next week because the parking lot has not been completed, among other things. Nonetheless, most rooms were open with drinks and snacks available and lots of fine specimens on display. It was a social success!
Leonard Himes Dealer in Fine Mineral Specimens
Well, it happened again, I got one report posted and the pressure of three consecutive shows on three weekends with one day in between to turn around dominated my life and I didn't get another posting done. Maybe next year.
But, it was a good year over all in Tucson. Our shows were well attended and the weather okay, particularly for Westward Look which has a lot of outdoor activity. After the shows were over we rested a bit in Tucson and were able to watch the snow fall in the valley. We had about 3 inches! Certainly not normal Tucson!
Speaking of 'normal', Tucson is changing.
Next year will be the last "Inn Suites" show. It will move to much nicer rooms and ballrooms at the Hilton 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.
When I first went to that hotel, it was for John Barlow's party to announce his 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. It is about a mile north of Ina Road where Westward Look is located and will overlap dates with that Fine Minerals Show. That should be good for booth events.
The other news is that the area of our Just Minerals Event at the corner of Oracle and Lester in downtown Tucson is now exploding into a major mineral center generally being referred to as Lester. We will continue in the Elks Lodge (northeast corner) on opening weekend but starting on Saturday in 2020, rather than Sunday. Across the street are the Sun Gem and Mineral City venues(northwest corner) and I have learned that building permits have been issued for two more building for mineral dealers beyond Mineral City. We also expect that the Jewel Tunnel remodel of the old LaFuente Restaurant building ( southwest corner) will be complete. Since Top Gem is already established adjacent to the Elks Lodge, this area is destined to be a major retail/wholesale venue for years to come.
The TGMS Main Show will continue to be the anchor of all the activity, of course, but early attendees in Tucson will have some excellent shopping options. Tucson is a wonder flu town. If you haven't Attended the show, pu it on your calendar or 2020!
One other piece of news is that there will be another new show in Denver in September 2019. Our Just Minerals Event is starting a two day show at the Embassy Suites two exits west of the Crowne Plaza and we have expanded. See my show schedule page for details.
Well, as I said, Tucson is changing, I hope you enjoyed the report above, it is just the beginning!
Graham Sutton was the driving force behind building the physical plant of the Mineral City Show. Graham has been a miner for Collector's Edge for years and is a major part of their Chinese operations and is also importing custom display cases from there. He has now acquired a former office business property across the alley from the back entrance to the Mineral City building. He plans to begin work soon remodeling the interior to house a number of top dealers. The two office buildings share a parking lot that is entered from one street north of Lester St. that is named La Plata Street. So Graham, assuming not everyone speaks Spanish, decided to call the show the Silver Street Show (plata = silver). For any dealers willing to sign a three year lease, Graham is allowing the dealer to make any desired changes within the rooms footprint. For example, if one took two rooms the wall could be removed. If one wanted an enclosed room within the room it would be built and so on. This is exactly what several dealers chose to do, included yours truly along with Cal Graeber, Isaias Casanova and Geoff Krasnov. The buildings has direct access to Mineral City and was sold out within a week of announcement, which happened at the Denver Spring show and enlisted many of the participating dealers. The alley between the buildings will be paved and gated at the ends to make a pedistrian walkway between the show areas. In case the weather is warm as Tucson can be in February, this building will not only be heated, but also air conditioned. La Plata street will also serve as parking for many cars.
For Graeber & Himes this means some fancy footwork. Cal will take over the wholesale activity at Just Minerals - Tucson, Leonard will be across Oracle in the Silver Street show room and Kerith will have her jewelry there too. We will still be at Westward Look with our finest specimens but we will not be able to open early as we had planned. Early shoppers can see us at Silver Street. Collectors arriving later will see us at Westward Look. We will still have a presence at the TGMS, but we have decided to downsize there. We will be splitting tour 20x20 ft booth into two and sharing the area with Kevin Downey. Stay tuned! This has all happened very quickly and is in flux. We will be ordering new room furnishings and planning a layout worthy of a major new show. Isn't it fun to live in exciting times!!!
Without a doubt the Lester-Plata Street district will be come a major focus of the Tucson experience, so plan to come early to Tucson in 2020, the excitement there starts the last week of January, two weekends prior to the Main Show. And I thought that running three venues was tough!!!
A week before opening, oh dear! Partly paved lot February 1
Some rooms were shuttered. Some had partly filled cases and crates. But some were full of happy collectors
I encourage you to become members of the Friends of the Geology Museum of the Colorado School of Mines one of our area's real treasures. The Friends sponsor monthly lectures, field trips, and special events.
This page features Show Reports, Travel Notes, and other Items of Interest as they strike my fancy.