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Diary from the Tucson Bead Shows

Lots to do and people to see.

by Scott Remmers, Brea Bead Works (February 18, 2013)

We had not been to Tucson in two years, so we were looking forward to it. First thing up was a meeting with Swarovski to talk about the Southern California Local Bead Store Association and the CHA Bead Section. After that we were treated to hear about their 2014 Trends and product line.

Next was the Tucson Bead Show at the Windmill Hotel. Disappointed! This show has been declining over the years and maybe that's why the Whole Bead Show moved to the Viscount Hotel. The Windmill had many nationally known teachers holding classes in their own suites, but on Wednesday the attendance at these workshops was very minimal.
Then we went to the Congress Hotel to set up for the CHA reception. I believe we had 75 people or so there. Store owners, designers, trade publication folks, vendors, and the CHA folks. It was a great social time and [CHA President/CEO] Andrej Suskavcevic led off with a great introduction and reason for the reception. Membership VP Sue Turchick took a few minutes to introduce the membership side of the CHA. I was introduced by her to talk about our association here in So-Cal and to talk about the bead section.
All went pretty well until someone asked who was eligible to be part of the section. Andrej said everyone, including big-box stores. We got into heavy discussion about that and a few folks were not on board with that idea. Others stood up and said we should not be too concerned with the Wal-Marts, Michaels, Jo-Ann's; they have their own agendas, production time is 18 months out, etc. I would say 95% of the people will be on board.

All the vendors are excited to hear more, and the designers are looking forward to working with the stores and giving support to them. I believe we got people to become members of the CHA that night but Sue will have those numbers.

Overall, it was a big success. I would walk the show floors in Tucson and many vendors asked me how the reception went. They had heard about the meeting and were on board with the idea.

Thursday we went to the Best Bead Show. Very low attendance; glass artists were not well represented like years past. It's tough to sell any glass beads over about $45 these days. The main room at the show had the usual vendors, but outside in the two tents it was awful -- not completely filled with vendors. One tent had food vendors along with a sit down area with tables and chairs. I would not be shocked if more people leave this show.

After this, we went over to the Double Tree Hotel for the True Blue Bead Show. This has been a very good show in the past and pretty much held up again to be a good show. This show has a wholesale section in which vendors are much like the CHA show with ticket orders versus cash-and-carry. Not sure how this show could grow, however,  because space and parking are limited.

Friday, went to Gem Mall and Holidome. Gem Mall was pretty busy as usual and bigger. Holidome on Friday late afternoon seemed to be slow, but we heard on the first day the lines were huge to get in.
What I noticed this year was the number of finished jewelry vendors at the shows. The gemstone dealers seemed to be doing less business and some of the quality we saw was lower. Not every vendor had low quality, but a lot more vendors offered low quality for very low pricing.
There were new vendors such as The Lipstick Ranch with rusted-steel, laser-etched dog tags, letters, charms, and more. C-Koop Beads offered enameled flowers and beads. Kabella Design offered filigree beads and findings, and beads in neon colors.
I'm sure we went to other shows, but those are the big ones. Overall, it was a great time to meet with friends and chat about business. The hot topic with everyone is the CHA Bead Section.
We did not buy the usual gemstones, pearls, etc. We bought things different from whatever we carry on a regular basis. Will be doing an unveiling we hope this weekend on all the new product.

(Note: For more info on the CHA Bead Section, email Scott at scott@breabeadworks.com or Sue Turchick at sturchick@craftandhobby.org.)



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