Surviving Tucson Series #1: The Tucson Experience – what it is and what it isn’t

We’re coming up on my favorite time of year:  the Tucson Bead Show!!!  Tucson will be hosting shows from 30 January to 18 February in 2014 and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts (Tucson on my mind, Philly on my calendar)  I get pretty excited about bead shows.

My goal in this series is to prepare you for Tucson – whether this is your first time or you’ve been there from the start, you will find something useful in this series.

Now that New Year’s is behind us, I started thinking about Tucson, this made me think of my first experience in Tucson:  I went with the owner and the buyer for the bead shop I worked in at the time.  I knew already that there wasn’t just one Tucson Gem show, but at least 40 some shows.  Nothing they told me would prepare me for what I was about to witness.  Miles upon miles of beads, all shapes and sizes.  I’m sure my look of awe was ridiculous since my fellow companions would look back at me and laugh every once in a while. I had dreamed of going to Tucson for years, and what I saw was better than I could have ever imagined.

A quick lists of what Tucson is and is not:

Photo courtesy of Whitethorn Scratch

Geodes as big as your head (and bigger even)!

What Tucson is:

  • The Vegas of bead shows:  This thing opens January 18th, shows run anywhere from 7 am till 7pm.  There are literally almost 40 vendors attending this NINETEEN day event.
  • Pandora’s Box of treasure troves.  You want a hard to find bead from across the ocean?  This is your chance.  You could probably even buy a wolf cub if you looked hard enough.
  • A TON of people.  Think Eiffel Tower on New Year’s Eve or Chichen Itza for the end of the world in 2012.
  • A great place to set up vendors.  If you have the volume, this is a great spot to start a relationship with a vendor.

What Tucson is NOT:

  • A single bead show.  There are SEVERAL bead shows all going on at once, my last count was 37.
  • Boring.  Love people watching?  This is like nothing you’ve ever seen.  Estimates are around 4,000 attendees this year.
  • A good place to buy beads for the first time.  In this series we will also go over the top five mistakes you can make at a Tucson (or any beadshow) and how to avoid getting ripped off.

Hold on, this is going to be fun, exciting and a little frightening all at the same time.  At the end you’ll want to do it again.

 So tell me, what was YOUR first Tucson experience like?  What would you do differently?


2 thoughts on “Surviving Tucson Series #1: The Tucson Experience – what it is and what it isn’t

    • Hi, Happy New Year!
      Unfortunately I don’t think we’re going to make it this year. This will be the second year in a row that I miss, I think I’m going through withdrawal! I’m hoping I can take my brother in 2015, he has no idea what he’s in for. Have you been and are you planning on 2014?

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