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Preparing for Tucson as a vendor

Hi folks!

I know many of you have been to Tucson before, some as customers and
some as vendors. I will be a vendor for the very first time at the
"To Bead True Blue Show." I will mainly be selling my Silver Metal
Clay center pieces, silver jewelry components, and rainbow sculpture
titanium. I could really use some expert advise on the best way to
prepare. The show is several days longer than I am used to doing and
so I’m wondering mainly how much stock I’ll need. Other tips for
vending, travel, organization, eating, and evening activities
(assuming I have any energy left). I also am wondering about price
points especial for my Metal Clay focals. I know people are doing
some bargain hunting and my focals probably would not attract that
kind of person, however maybe I should think in price point levels,
such as so many over the top pieces, so many mid-range pieces and so
many simpler pieces. What price points do you suggest I shoot for as
my goal for one-of-a-kind type work. Thanks a bunch


We have been doing the GJX show since it opened up in Tucson. Though
we sell loose Emeralds, Opals and Colored Stones and Gemstone
Faceting Rough, there are several areas we will have in common. I
have never been to your venue so I am not sure what your competition
will look like - but a quick trip through the Gem Mall really shocked
me that so many strands of beads actually existed in the world and
that most of them seemed to have landed in Tucson.

Looking at your material on your website, it doesn’t seem to be the
kind of merchandise that you are going to be willing to throw a
plastic tarp over at night and trust the show’s security people to
keep safe for you. Which means setting up in the morning and breaking
down in the evening. So count on at least another two hours a day
for these activities.

Because of security reasons, we have to set up our show cases every
morning and take everything out in the evening and store it in the
show’s vault, so even though the show closes to buyers at 6 p.m. we
very rarely are out the door of the GJX and on our way to get
something to eat before 7:30 p.m. And after standing on our feet all
day long - about all we can muster is to run into a supermarket and
buy a rotisserie chicken in a supermarket and take it back to our
lodgings for a quick meal before we crash. So we usually don’t have
to worry about evening activities.

We only made it to the Orchid dinner one time and by the time we got
there every one had already eaten, had their coffee and were on
their way out the door.

As to the amount of stock you will need, just about every show
promoter has a clause in their contract that you are not allowed to
shut down your booth early - even if you sell out of all of your
merchandise. You are expected to have enough residual merchandise to
be able to show material up until the very end of the show (can’t
have empty show cases). The only exception is for the Jewish
exhibitors on Friday afternoon and Saturday.

(I really hope that you have that kind of problem - running out of
merchandise due to great sales - though it is not very probable on
your first show in Tucson)


Since you are coming from Pennsylvania you will probably be flying
to Tucson. You might consider flying into Phoenix and renting a car
or taking the shuttle from the Phoenix Airport to Tucson. Most of the
flights to Tucson make a stopover in Phoenix and there are a lot
more flights to Phoenix than to Tucson. Car rentals are easier and
usually cheaper in Phoenix and if you don’t want or need a car,
there is a shuttle from the Phoenix Airport that goes to most of the
major hotels in downtown Tucson.

If you are planning on trying the restaurants in Tucson - you will
probably need a car, as there is not a whole lot in easy walking
distance in downtown Tucson. You will definitely need a car to get
to the Orchid Dinner.

You might consider shipping your merchandise to your show venue via
Brinks or one of the other Security services. They usually deliver
the material to you inside of your booth on the day of the show
set-up and pick it up on the last day of the show after the show
closes and have it back to your home office in a day or two. Costs
about USD$ 500.00 for a standard sized suitcase - varies depending
upon the amount of the declared insured value. Flying with
merchandise is a real hassle in the USA and leaving Tucson via the
local airport with merchandise can be an even bigger hassle and even
dangerous - if you get selected for a last minute search at the door
of the airplane.


A credit card processor is a VERY good idea. You will lose sales if
you cannot process credit cards. If you take checks, be sure to
write on the check the buyer’s driver’s license number, address,
phone number, etc. Tell them that the show promoter obligates you to
do that. Arizona takes a very dim view of Check Fraud and the
District Attorney will prose cute anyone who writes a bad check at
the Tucson Shows - as long as the vendor has all of the relevant

We had only one bad check in all of our years at the Tucson Shows
and we made it known to the buyer (who was a former exhibitor at our
show) (through some of his acquaintances - since he had made himself
unavailable) that he was going to be prosecuted - He showed up at
the next show (we had already contacted the police to have him
arrested as soon as he appeared at the show) and made a partial
payment (before the police could be alerted) - and later sent
another partial payment - still owes us about a third of the amount
of the sale but at least we recovered a good bit of it. By the way,
if you accept a partial payment on a bad check sale - the Arizona
District Attorney will not prosecute the person if he defaults on
the remainder of the payment.

Travelers checks are “iffy” especially with the recent news of
fraudulent traveler’s checks circulating. We have never had a bad
traveler’s check (knock on wood) - but they get deposited right into
the bank immediately. With foreign buyers - it may be your only sure
way of getting paid for your sale, unless they have cash - (we never
take checks on foreign banks and we always take Xerox copies of all
checks and traveler’s checks before depositing them).


Due to the vast amount of material for each potential buyer to see at
the Tucson Shows, you have about 10 - 15 seconds to capture the
potential buyer’s attention as they walk by and to have them actually
stop to look at something at your booth. Organize your booth in
manner that you get the people to stop to look - otherwise they will
plan to come back again and you will never see them again - even if
they really do want to come back - it is really hard for them to
remember where they saw what and actually get back to that spot

If someone is interested in a piece - try to close the sale right
then, don’t count on them coming back later, even though they swear
that they will - if they really do come back (which is very unlikely,
even if they want to), many times it will be to tell you the they
have already spent their budget, maxed out their credit cards, have
no checks left etc. Even then, we sometimes offer to send the piece
C.O.D. to destinations within the USA - or if it is the last day of
the show - we can hold the piece until they can get home and mail us
a check for the sale plus postage and insurance.

Post cards:

Mail out postcards to any potential buyers who you think may be
coming to the show - to let them know where you can be found at the
show. Get potential customers business cards when they come by your
booth and mail them a post card about a month ahead of time for the
next year’s show (if you decide to do it again). Definitely send post
cards for the next show to any customer who buys from you at this

Hand out the post cards to the ones that say they will be back -
write on the post card what the piece was in which they were
interested, the price, your booth number and the show - do it in RED
ink so it stands out. You may even get some of them to come back.

Tucson Show Guide:

It is too late this year, but make sure that you get your show booth
location listed in the Colored Stone Tucson Show Guide for the 2009
show they give you two free product listings - so you can get listed
for free if you only include two product listings.

And the potential buyers can find your booth location in the Tucson
Show Guide - by your name, by your product listings and by your city
state and country. If you pay extra, you can get listed on their
internet search page also.

Your show promoter will probably have your next year’s contract for
you to sign and pay 50% of the show fee the first few days of your
show - even before you have discovered if you are even going to
break even on this show. At the GJX we are greeted with our next
year’s contract as we walk in the door on set-up day.

There are many more tips - but we are sure that other vendors will
chime in on this thread.

Best regards,
Robert Lowe
Lowe Associates - Brasil
Gemstones, Rough, Specimens
Tucson - Feb 6 - 11, 2008 - GJX booth # 205

Good luck at the show Holly, your stuff is very nice and eclectic;
and probably a higher level than others at the show. I will be at
the Best Bead show across town at the kino center.

You’ll do fine!..Frankenstein

Hello Tucson travelers,

Just to let you know that the “Super Bowl” will be played in Phoenix
this year on Feb 3, 2008. Getting in and out of Phoenix may be a real
bummer if not impossible during the time just before and after the
big game. Lets hope some of the big bucks float down to Tucson for a
bit of bauble shopping.

Elayne K. Luer GJG
About Lapidary

Robert Lowe,

Thank you so much for such an in-depth explanation of your
experiences at the show. I was glad to see you think I should be in
the Tucson Show Guide, because I did take out a small ad. The
magazine alone is overwhelming, I can’t imagine being a shopper and
deciding where to go. I was told by other attendees, that I picked
the right show for unique and one of a kind items. I guess we’ll see
about that. I will be able to process credit cards and I’m hoping a
knuckle buster is good enough. I think you are right-on about closing
the deal if possible instead of letting the customer walk – but
isn’t that always the challenge. Your comments will make a good check

Cande Toner, said to have items that they can order from just in
case my stock runs low and that is great advise. She’ll be at the
same show as me, so I hope we can meet up.

Elayne Luer, thanks for the positive comments about my jewelry and
taking time to visit my site, (which needs some restocking after the
holiday for sure) and thank you for the good luck wishes. I hope you
have a positive experience at the show as well.

Well, my last unanswered question was about price points. What
should the majority of my goods fall within? What kind of shoppers
are there?

Anyway, if anyone is going to Tucson in Feb for the shows, please
visit me at To Bead True Blue MS4890 Morning Star Ballroom

Holly Gage

please visit me at To Bead True Blue MS4890 Morning Star Ballroom

If you want people to come to see you what is your venue, your
location? I’ve been to Tucson for about the last 15 years and from
the info you’ve given I wouldn’t know where to find you.

If you want people to come to see you what is your venue, your
location? I've been to Tucson for about the last 15 years and from
the info you've given I wouldn't know where to find you. 

The venue is the To Bead True Blue Show. It is located in the
Manning House Mansion at 450 West Paseo Redondo which is downtown.
The Tucson Show Guide should have all of the info as well as maps.
The show runs from Feb 5th thru the 10th and is 10am to 6pm. This is
a show with many vendors showing handmade work, lampwork beads,
felted beads, PMC, finished jewelry, etc. Quite eclectic and good
quality work as well as imported beads and products for beading. We
will be there also but we will be in the big tent behind the Manning

Cande Toner

If you want people to come to see you what is your venue, your
location? I've been to Tucson for about the last 15 years and from
the info you've given I wouldn't know where to find you." 

I’m sorry, I guess I thought I did that. I’m Holly Gage of Gage
Designs and I will be attending the “To Bead True Blue Show” at
booth MS4890 in the Morning Star Ballroom at the Manning House, 450
Paseo Redondo in Tucson. If anyone comes to visit me, please let me
know you are from the Orchid forum so I can give a warm hello and a
10% on your purchase for making the effort of weeding me out from the
sea of vendors.


Kevin - The “To Bead True Blue” show is relatively new - only in its
3rd or 4th year. The that Holly gave above is actually
pretty informative as to where she will be located in the Tucson
shows. The To Bead True Blue show is in the Manning House, just east
of the freeway near downtown.

BBR - Sandi Graves
Stormcloud Trading Co (Beadstorm)
Saint Paul, Minnesota