If you buy for a jewelry business, have a souvenir store or sell at gift shows, you will want to venture to Tucson for the immense annual Gem and Mineral shows. We found out a few things on our first adventure in buying. Here are some tips for the new buyer:
- Shows do not start and end on the same dates. Check the Tucson Visitor's Bureau website for start date and location. Make sure the show is listed as a wholesale show.
- Research the shows to make sure they sell the products you are interested in.
- Arrive at the show early for registration. If the show opens at 10, for example, you can go before 10 to register. All shows have separate registration processes. In general, to qualify as a wholesale buyer, you will need your business license. In addition, bring business cards.
- Pick up a gem show guide as soon as you arrive. They often run out as the morning progresses.
- Be prepared for the dealer's minimum. While a few dealers did not require a minimum, many required that you buy anywhere from $100 to $300 minimum.
- When you are at the show talk to other buyers to learn their opinions on other shows to attend.
- Talk to the vendors. Often there are better price breaks if you purchase more products from them.
- For a first timer interested in a variety of loose beads, jewelry, and international gift items, I recommend the J.O.G.S. show. It is a large and diverse show and, when I was there, served a nice free brunch.
- If you are a high-end buyer or just want to experience the world of loose diamonds and gems, head out to the Marriott Resort on Star Pass Road. This is the Gem and Lapidary Dealers Show. The views of Tucson, the mountains and the valley are worth the trip out there. You can take the shuttle.