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Show Publicity....a warning

   We recently participated in a Gem and Mineral show.....the
California Federation show which was held at the Fairgrounds in Paso
Robles, CA. Ostensibly, this is THE major show of the year for the

Hi Ron. You left out one other possible reason for non-attendance at
the show. Some of us have BEEN to the Paso Robles Fairgrounds in the
summer and NEVER want to repeat the experience because of the heat.
I deliberately made a “no go” decision based on that single factor.
Even the millionaires on the surrounding ranchettes and vineyards
probably prefer the comfort of their own air conditioning and don’t
go slogging around like mad dogs and Englishmen in the noonday sun.

Your point about show publicity is well-taken. Gem clubs often allow
"seniority," individual egos and cliques to dominate their public
behavior. I recall a few years ago I tried to become involved with a
certain (unnamed) club that was sponsoring a big show. Since I spent
a big part of my life as a feature writer and professional publicist,
I offered my services. “No thanks,” was the essential response from
members of the publicity committee. Publicity for the show was
awful, and so was attendance. Maybe my involvement would have made
no difference, but it sure seems to me the publicity missed some
natural “angles” that should have been pitched to local news editors
and TV assignment desks.

Rick Martin

Howdy Ron and list, As a moderately active member of a larger G&M
club I certainly understand and share much of Ron’s frustration.

Often the folks 'in charge' of a show like this are 'stuck in the

50s’. I’ve tried to convince them of advertising in the Vietnemese and
Spanish language papers, they look at me like I’ve got lobsters coming
out my ears! Some shows charge a dollar for children! Excuse me but a
kid under 12 or so will be accompanied by a purs—UH I mean parent.
They still use terms like ‘hound’ and ‘rock’ when naming a show
instead of emphasizing -say- earth science,meteorites,custom
jewelry,unique gems,etc. I tell them Sunday afternoon should be half
price or something. It’s difficult to convince a 30-something Hispanic
couple with 4 kids to come to an event they’ve never experienced
before if it’s gonna cost them $15-&20 plus parking. OK so they may
not be high rollers but I feel a G&M show is about more than sales and
some of those kids may be YOUR apprentices in 5-10 years. It’s just
that nowadays so few people have a hobby of any kind and kids all
think they’re gonna make a living ‘with computers’. That’s why i let
some of the other members demo faceting and I haul my old 486 up there
to show people GemCad or the DVueII database. The first thing people
say is “Oh, now you guys have computers too?!” We need an Oprah or a
John Stossel or somebody to reacquanit the populace on what they’re
missing. There are 1 or 2 entire generations of people and all sorts
of immigrants that haven’t the slightest clue what the jewelry crafts
are cacpable of! Co-workers say"what’s the big deal about a bunch of
rocks and metal?" i say look around you right now. Anything that
didn’t grow came from a MINE. Sorry about the rant. I realize the gem
and jewelry BUSINESS is different than the hobby. I’ll bet a large
fraction of you started as hobbiests though There are rumors of a
coming shortage of watchmakers. There’s already a shortage of truckers
and nurses. I know of no white middle class adolescents planning to
work with their hands. I guess they’ll all be selling insurance to
each other or hosting websites. We’d be losing population if it
weren’t for immigration, and imigrants are almost the only group that
seem to want to SERVE A CUSTOMER.(present company excepted).

G&M shows are tricky, How much should the tickets cost?(if free you

get a lot of lookers killing time BUT you may get folks who’ve never
attended before), Booth space?, at what level of demonstrating/sales
by club members will dealers begin complaining of the competition? How
many club memebrs will actually show up to help?(I sacrificed vacation
time form work) How much should be spent on advertising? How? The
venue we’ve used for the last few shows has gotten too
expensive/difficult to deal with.(won’t let us buy out the parking lot
so guests can park free anymore). My club will do well to break even
this time. I’m sorry you had a bad experience. Maybe there will be a
Renaisance soon. Carl

1 Lucky Texan

All, I have been a Club Show and Professional Show Promoter dealer
since 1984. At one time I did a small circuit of 15 shows a year.
Things were good until about 1997. Almost every show made a good
profit and business was worthwhile. About 1993 my records show that
the money started to drop off. In 1997 I deleted all shows that did
not consistently turn a profit. My business is a for profit
business, not a charity. Today I am down to two club shows and two
promoter shows. My in pocket profit is higher now than in 1997.
Several things have contributed to the decline of shows. First -
there are far too many shows. Second - there are far too many gem
and mineral show dealers that carry flea market items. Third -
promoters are out to maximize profits and advertise as little as
possible. Forth - clubs have been taken over by donut and coffee
socializers and use their annual show as a club get together. Fifth

  • Cities have gotten into the freebie act and tax dealers with
    special licenses, scale calibration license, motel taxes, rent a car
    taxes, next will be bathroom taxes. We do our own advertising. We
    use our website and direct mailing to reach customers. Advertising
    in Lapidary Journal and Rock and Gem has not been worth a penny. In
    five years of advertising with them we had zero sales attributed to
    them. We still advertise in Colored Stone, but may delete that in
    the near future. It is the wrong crowd. We need to advertise to
    people that buy stones, not make their own or go to a show to steal
    your designs or treat the show as a museum. I could go on and on.
    The bottom line is that if you are in business as a gem and mineral
    dealer you had better not depend upon the promoter to make your show.
    You must research the shows and sign only when you decide there is a
    fair chance for a profit. This year I signed with G+LW for Tucson at
    the new Gem Mall. Booth rent is $4600.00 paid up front. In this
    business now it is step up or get run over. You must go where the
    players are and pay to play.

Gerry Galarneau

   I know of no white middle class adolescents planning to work with
their hands. I guess they'll all be selling insurance to each other
or hosting websites. We'd be losing population if it 

I both agree and take some offense to that statement… And, since I
have never officially introduced myself (in over 3 years) to everyone
on this list, here goes:

I’m 27 years old and grew up watching my dad make jewelry as a hobby.
He has been involved in the local G&MS for most of his adult life
and I attended every year as a child. However, I swore I would
never do anything like that as it required too much time and I was
one of those “computer people” you’re talking about…

After 5 years in college and receiving a BS in Information Systems I
transferred from a pharmacy as a tech to the Systems Dept. of the
Health Plan Pharmacy network. BUT, during this time I found an
interest in doing what I had swore to never do - I became involved
in the jewelry field. It started simply by wanting to “prove” to
myself that I could do it…(You know, those “rebel” years we all go

I tought myself (and remembered much from my dad’s work when I was a
child and the many rock shows I attended) and he couldn’t (and still
can’t) belief that I’ve done all this!

I now work part-time for the pharmacy as a Sys Analyst (everything
from Sys Admin work to user support and programming). The rest of
the time in my life is spent running my 2 businesses (and repairing
my wife’s and my 40-year old home).

The businesses are Jewelry Design/Creation and Web
Design/Programming! I love to do both…and, when one isn’t
financially “cutting-it”, the other takes up for it! I take both
businesses very serious; but, I have no idea what I may be doing 10
(or even 5) years from now.

I sell mainly on the internet and locally to friends/co-workers/etc.
My wife and I have attended a couple of G&M shows in the past year
and have plans to attend one before the end of the year. I’ve been
selling jewelry for about 5 years and have seen a drastic decrease in
business over the past year. Way too many “You do wonderful
work…”, “You’re so talented…”, etc. While the compliments are
nice, they simply do not pay the bills.

So, just today, I have set a goal of winning (any place) a Jewelry
Design Competition in the next 3 years… Whether it will happen,
who knows. But, I will do the best that I can, and that’s all that
matters, right?

Dwain Coufal D.C. Designs –

Fourth - clubs have been taken over by donut and coffee socializers
and use their annual show as a club get together. 

Gerry, This is such a gross and unjustified generalization that it
infuriates me. Why don’t you talk to any of the dealers at my club’s
just-completed 40th annual Fiesta of Gems show in Culver City, CA,
and ask them if they agree with this statement. While there are no
doubt club shows that fit this description, it does a great disservice
to the many who work their butts off to make this kind of
irresponsible and insulting generalization.

If you’d like a list of our dealers, feel free to contact me
off-list. And, if you ever decide you’d like to apply as a dealer to
our show, don’t waste your time.

Beth Rosengard
Culver City Rock & Mineral Club

Good for you Dwain. Don’t loose sight of what you want to
accomplish. But, never forget either, that there is a great difference
between being a professional jeweler and doing it as a hobby. I
worked for the government for nearly 40 years before retiring and for
the last 20+ of that I was also a lapidary, designer, and metal smith,
did restorations, repairs, you name it…if a pro did it, so did I. I
built a client base of nearly 200 faithfuls, and even after moving
away some years ago, many are still with me long into retirement.

The difference was (is), none of this was my livelihood. I did it
for fun, for excitement, for satisfaction…everything but livelihood.
When I think back, I have never charged my worth! But what I made
went into new equipment, stock, etc.

For a while after retirement, I even began to make a nice profit,
then we moved and other priorities took over for a time. Now, while I
still do a few commissions, cut stones, and fuss over several design
lines, which even sell now and then, my big priority is teaching and
ensuring our art endures. The rest is a rat race.

So, while your aspirations are noble and worthwhile, at some point
you are going to be forced to make a decision. “Do I want to do this
for serious profit or keep it more on the lighter side?” The danger
of the former is becoming more concerned with the profit rather than
the joy of the art, while the latter might result in the utilities
being turned off! I know a young jeweler in Sarasota, FL who, it
seems has combined the two. He won an all Florida design award a few
years ago and has a nice shop in a shopping mall, produces some of the
best designs and workmenship I have seen in many years and yet seems
to really enjoy (read-love) what he does. I wonder, with that
combination will he ever be rich?

Realize this view will probably cause a burp in the list but it is
good for aspiring jewelry artists to understand who they are, what
they are and where they are going! Perspective is everything.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!

All, I invite other dealers to give their opinions on the subject of
club shows. I in no way met the implication that most clubs are now
social gatherings to be insulting. It is a simple observation of
having been a dealer at well over 100 Club Gem Shows. If you are
insulted I would like you to put yourself in a dealers shoes. The
dealer has traveled for at least a day maybe more, rented a motel,
paid for travel expenses, paid the club, and sits in a show with very
little attendance or a flea market and museum mentality. Maybe your
club is doing it right, but most are not. The same goes for promoter
shows as I have had the same experience with some of them. Dealers
pay for the show and should expect good advertising and the promoter
to bring in a crowd. In most instances this does not happen. I still
have one Club Show and my other Club Show is not going to sponsor a
show any longer because the membership does not desire to work to put
on a show. After 50+ years of shows I have been told that the
Maricopa Lapidary Society of Phoenix, AZ will not have another show.
This was at one time the best show in the nation. The club has a
large membership base with very little interest in show, but a lot of
interest in socialization.

Gerry Galarneau