What is the Tucson Show?
From humble beginnings in March of 1955, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show has evolved into the largest and most significant group of mineral shows in the world.
The first retail show was organized by several members of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society. These few volunteers found about 8 dealers, borrowed equipment, arranged for space at an elementary school, ordered advertising in local newspapers, and requested collector’s exhibits, in less than 10 days. The show was a big hit with attendees. Due to the success of the retail show, several wholesale dealers decided to get together in February of 1961 at the Holiday Inn South (Howard Johnson) to support the retailers at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. There was no formal organization to assist the 13 original wholesale dealers. The satellite show proved to be such a success that show promoters soon followed. In 2008, more than 38 satellite shows with thousands of dealers from all over the world invaded Tucson. The exhibitions have a greater economic effect on the city of Tucson than any other single event.
Virtually every aspect of the gem and mineral industry from all over the world is represented in these exhibitions. Every stone, every cut, and every product manufactured from stone, from all over the world, is available in Tucson during the first two weeks of February.
One of the original 13 dealers was Bob Schabilion, who is now the president of the Gem & Lapidary Wholesalers, which now operates three shows in Tucson. Some of the other shows have become specialized, offering a greater selection of merchandise such as fossils, minerals, or beads, etc. to fulfill specific customer interests. Today, the collection of February shows in Tucson is recognized in the world as the greatest exhibition of gems, fossils, minerals, and lapidary products. The shows have had a great impact on the gem and mineral industry. The Tucson shows have become the best buying opportunity of the year for retailers, jewelers, manufacturers, collectors, museums, and hobbyists. The exciting and important thing about the shows is the chance to see what new rocks are being mined, what mineral discoveries have been made in the past year, and what jewelry trends are developing.
What is the Tucson Showplace?
The Tucson Showplace (est. 1991) is one of the satellite shows that takes place in Tucson during the first two weeks in February. It is located at 1530 S Freeway, just south of the original satellite show location at the Holiday Inn South (now Howard Johnson’s at Starr Pass Blvd). It can be approached from either Farmington Road or South Freeway.
As the shows in Tucson got bigger, some large dealers found hotel room fees, show fees, and transportation costs becoming too high, and space too limited to display their merchandise. Don Burrow, a quartz dealer from Arkansas, saw a need for a new type of show. He commissioned the construction of two buildings on the south end of the downtown area and leased spaces to several dealers offering merchandise such as rough rock, crystals, onyx carvings, and minerals. Several other companies have followed Don’s lead and have also built or purchased “warehouse” type properties to provide dealer space.
Since 1991, the show at the Tucson Showplace has featured dealers who are a “direct source” of their merchandise. Spaces at the Tucson Showplace are leased to dealers on an annual basis. The space provides them with a place to exhibit during the show and also allows for storage of inventory during the rest of the year. The Showplace was designed with easy access for large shipments to arrive by truck, as well as parking for customers. These features are very attractive to large dealers.
In 2004, Don Burrow sold the property to Eugene Mueller, owner of The Gem Shop, Inc. A new company was formed, Tucson Showplace, LLC, which will continue to promote the show each year in February. The show is considered to be a wholesale show, but retail sales are also welcomed, at individual dealer’s discretion. Additional parking will also be available in the lot just to the north of the Tucson Showplace. For more information or space availability, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-377-1181.