TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It's a wrap on another year of gem shows in Tucson. On Sunday, most vendors and show organizers celebrated another successful year, while hoping for strong final numbers despite a few setbacks.
“There were some concerns about whether the coronavirus was going to cut down on traffic, and it may have cut down a little [traffic],” said Peter Megaw, the cochair and exhibits chair of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.
Also, Megaw says a lack of parking spots may have slightly impacted numbers.
“A lot of parking places have been lost to construction in downtown Tucson this year,” he said. “It was multiple hundreds; I think it was in the neighborhood of 400 [lost parking spaces].”
However, those determined to browse the exhibits and search for hidden gems didn’t let parking woes get in their way.
“We circled around - I think - once, twice maybe,” said Zach Dell, who spent his birthday with a group of friends at the Tucson Convention Center. “We found a garage across the street which still had some parking spaces. We ended up parking on the fourth and fifth floors.”
Over near I-10 and Congress Street, one vendor said rainy, cold weather impacted foot traffic during a couple of days. However, working long hours for more than two weeks, Ali Shah Azizi said it was the most profitable year in the 25 years he has participated in the show.
“[It was a] good year, yes. Much better than the year before, to be honest,” he said.
Sunday night was one of the busiest for Azizi, as he packed up products and tried to make some last minute sales. Azizi Owns Rug’s & Art, a handmade rug business in California. After buying an entire tent full of precious stones from a mineral dealer at the show, he was eager to sell as much as possible as the space in his truck and trailer dwindled.
“[I’ve been giving my customers] the best deals, too,” he said.
Last minute deals were exactly what several rock collectors, like Andrew Abramavage, were on the hunt for.
“I am going through stuff and the coolest thing I saw here is the fluorite that [Azizi] had,” said Abramavage. “I’m specifically interested in the box that I’m about to make him an offer on.”
The consensus from volunteers, dealers and buyers alike: it was a great year for gem shows in Tucson.
“We have had some really gorgeous exhibits, a really strong response from the viewing public,” said Megaw. “Right now, volunteers are going to go home and faceplant and hibernate for about a week. Then, we start planning for next year.”
Officials estimate about 150,000 people visited the city during the shows.
Organizers of the Tucson Gem and Mineral show have announced next year’s theme will be centered on florescent minerals.