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Another Visit to the Executive Inn
Friday February 9th - The weather was sunny today with a high of 83 degrees.

There were many cordiality bowls full of goodies offered by the various dealers at the Show. This one was definitely one of the best, not so much for the candy in it (which wasn't bad either), but for the appropriate container. Can you guess who supplied this one near the doorway to their room? Hint: They created the WWW's first virtual rock shop...

Of course, it's Amethyst Galleries, in room 269 at the Executive Inn. Here are owners Steve Covey, webmaster, and Doris Covey, president, accompanied by Jeff Albert, store manager (left), waving their greetings to the net. Jeff was at Tucson for the first time this year and really seemed to be enjoying himself. Of course, they brought a machine which they had connected to the net to show off their website. They also had a room full of mineral specimens for sale, and personally handled the flesh and blood browsers in their room, while their website handled the virtual ones!

Earlier in the show I encountered Doris and Jeff out browsing at Boatner's garage before Steve flew into town and they set up their room at the Executive. I stopped by 269 several times to visit with Jeff, Steve and Doris and enjoyed several conversations talking rocks and shop with them. I even brought my Snappy frame grabber along on one visit to give them a chance to check it out. Unfortunately, we had "technical" difficulties and could not connect it to the parallel port on the back of Steve's machine due to a physical interference problem between the case of the Snappy and his computer's case. For want of a $5 parallel extender cable...

Storm Mountain Minerals and Mining in Room 227 at the Executive showed a number of nice mixed specimens. Here's a Pikes Peak, Colorado specimen of amazonite, zinnwaldite and smoky quartz which was offered at $275.

Orthoclase with smoky quartz from Dona Ana County, New Mexico. $140.

Another Pikes Peak specimen, this one consisted of hematite pseudomorphed after siderite on microcline with smoky quartz. I'm not sure exactly what it was, perhaps because of the pseudomorph, but I found this one particularly appealing. This was in spite of the fact that it had been damaged at some point and a quartz crystal had been broken off and was missing. It's funny how some specimens just seem to call out to you.

If it hadn't been broken, and had I not already spent more than I really had to budget, I probably would have found this one irresistible. Of course, if it hadn't been broken, it probably wouldn't have been priced within my means. This one was offered at $175, but David Ratoike of Storm Mountain Minerals and Mining had noticed my obvious interest in this specimen and made it clear he'd be willing to compromise on the price. It was getting late in the Show at the Executive, and the closer it gets to the end of it, the more flexible many dealers become regarding their pricing on what's left.

Tourmaline with smoky quartz and albite from the Otchua Mine, Karbib, Namibia. Quite a different class of specimen. I didn't notice any broken quartz crystals on this one. But then, for $7500, you probably shouldn't.

In the Executive Ball Room Madagaskar Turmalin showed numerous sections of liddicoatite tourmaline, which was arranged in a pyramidal-prismatic form. The larger pieces were about the size of a small dinner plate, and the three above from left to right were offered at $4,900, $4,900 and $15,000. The smaller specimens on the light table ranged in price from $20 to $550. All from Madagaskar.

I was told the piece shown at left was the largest longitudinal cut of this material in the world. It was offered at $3900.

Another specimen shown in the Ball Room was this unusual manganocalcite covered with a light dusting of druzy quartz from the Perigrina Mine, Guanajuato, Mexico. This material had a very subtle pink hue. It was brought to the Show by Cloud Imports and offered at $1200. Jeanette Norris showed me this piece and related that it was part of what looks to be a pretty small, one time find.

Hmm... where have I seen this stuff before? Several times during the Show I tried to hunt down and meet up in person with Stuart Wilensky, who is an on-line acquaintance and a major contributor to the Shop's image gallery. Stuart and his wife Donna produce the Wilensky Mineral Video, which features high-grade specimens for sale from localities all over the world. I had heard Stuart could sometimes be found hanging out in Room 122 at the Executive, where Wayne Thompson was set up. Unfortunately I wasn't successful in meeting Stuart this year, but while in Wayne's room I did meet up with some very familiar looking specimens... some of them were obviously from the same sources. This excellent pyromorphite from the Bunker Hill Mine in Idaho was one of them. Wayne was offering it at $6,500.

One of my last stops of the day was at The Sunnywood Collection in Room 119 at the Executive. Owners Bill and Elsie Stone have gone the extra mile and offer their specimens in very nice rotatable cases. I've often thought these folks have grasped some merchandising principles and filled a niche that others have failed to comprehend or choose to ignore. How many valuable or delicate specimens do you have that sit off in a corner somewhere, covered with dust, that you intend to display more prominently when you get around to purchasing or making a cabinet for them?

I don't think there's much doubt the total presentation affects the viewer's perception of the specimen itself, an effect which has not been lost on the Stones. Years ago I was involved in retail merchandising, and can appreciate the "total package" approach these folks have adopted.

In one of their cases they showed a very nice apophyllite and stilbite from Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India. This piece was offered at $5,000. The case was included, of course. Further information can be obtained by visiting The Sunnywood Collection on the web or email to: minerals@sunnywood.com.

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