On the way to my annual winter writing retreat this week, I passed a sign reading “Gem Show” with an arrow to a local hotel. I was reminded that today begins the two-week long Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.
Started in someone’s garage 63 years ago, the event has grown to nearly 50-venues and brings 55,000 people to Tucson. I’ve read reports stating that during those two weeks, an extra $120 million is spent in the city.
It’s NOT just for rock collectors and jewelers anymore. In fact, in addition to every imaginable gem, mineral, crystal and jewelry-making tool and equipment, there is African Art, Native American Handcrafts, food trucks and items completely unrelated to gems and minerals.
Vendors sell everything from cheap junk to a tiara made with more than 1,000 diamonds. I’m told that one year, the show included a multi-million dollar uncut diamond.
There are also vendors of fibers, fabrics and vintage or handcrafted buttons. I think they are smart to show in an industry other than their own. Someone who hand knits wearables, for example, might also be shopping at the show for fancy buttons.
As a creative business coach, I aways look for overlaps and how one industry can compliment another. Noticing what makes you different and how other industries would be interested in what you have to offer helps you stand out in a crowded field.
One year, on a flight back to California from the Tucson Gem show, I sat next to an interior designer who was heading home from a furniture trade show. Because I’d been in the home furnishings industry years ago, I was interested to hear about what she saw at the market. As she talked about trends in lamps, fabrics and flooring, I thought about how someone in her business would be smart to attend a gem show and make connections with providers of architectural size rocks and minerals. An upscale designer could do well if she had a source for large, decorative accent pieces and what’s more one-of-a-kind than a giant rock?
I always ask clients “who else already has your audience?” When you’re trying to figure out where to sell your products or services, you and someone with a complimentary (not competing) business can connect each other with the ideal clients.
When you’re out and about, seeing new places and meeting people, always ask yourself, how can what i do compliment this person or place. You’ll be delighted with the possibilities.
Here are 3 more reasons you should go to a gem and mineral show even if you don’t make jewelry or collect rocks.