It was mostly overcast and hazy today with a high of 76 degrees. Looks like Tucson is in the groove with an outlook for some good weather to kick off this year's Show. However it seems the local weathermen are increasingly copping out to El Nino instead of taking responsibility for their forecasts and the weather for the Show...
Bob's Rock Shop is issuing flash flood warnings due to imminent heavy precipitation of fluorites in low lying desert areas, with quartz and other alpine minerals crystallizing at higher elevations... ;)
I've made some additions and what will hopefully prove to be a few ergonomic refinements in the equipment that I use in the course of acquisition for the Shop's Tucson Show Reports, and decided that today would be a good day for a shakeout. While it's still several days to a week before many of the shows officially start up, I was confident I'd find some preparatory activity underway at the site of the Mineral and Fossil Co-op show.
Nearby I found this street sign at an intersection aka Oracle and Drachman. You know it's close to Showtime when this one is displayed.
In previous years the Mineral and Fossil Co-op show has been held in a large tent, shown at left. Check out the new digs for the Co-op dealers which are under construction! I took the pictures at center and right about a week ago. This is a large and spacious building that's going up on the same site where they used to pitch their tent. Now that's what I call progress... Note the multiple loading bays which line each side of the building. Looks like the space will eventually get partitioned up into autonomous warehouses and showrooms for the Co-op dealers. I wonder how much money this show related facility alone has injected into Tucson's economy already?
Today when I stopped by workmen were busy out front pouring and finishing a new sidewalk. Looks like the construction crews are on a very short leash to get the Co-op's building whipped into "showable" condition in time... Work crews for several of the dealers have already taken up residence in the building. Shown center is a workman busy fabricating tables, production line style. In another area shown at right a worker paints the tables. It takes thousands of tables to hold up all the rocks which will soon be displayed at the various shows, and a tremendous effort to set them all up. All that has to come together in just a few days.
While I was checking out the preparatory activity, a truck pulled up to one of the side doors on the Co-op building. Here comes the very first load of rocks for the '98 Co-op show!
Info has been published that this show was going to start several days ago, on January 25th. While on site I asked one party when the Co-op show was going to be open to the public and was told next Monday, Feb 1st. I asked another party and was told this coming Saturday. You can be sure everyone involved is hustling to make it ASAP.
While in the neighborhood I also checked out the Desert Pavilion Show, a small show just a few blocks from the Co-op building. This show is held inside and in the parking lot surrounding the retail shop shown at left, the Sonoran Desert Marketplace. Center is a shot inside the shop, which carries an eclectic blend of upscale Southwest art, crafts, jewelry, books and other gift and souvenir oriented merchandise, including some mineral specimens.
Shown at right is one of their specimen cases. Nice case, but with the mineral show at the Executive Inn on one side of it, and the fossil show at the Ramada Inn on the other side of it, this shop is caught between what you might call a rock and a hard place in the rock dealing department during the Show. However, it enjoys a lot of traffic due to its location, and it's a convenient place to shop for some regional gifts to bring back from the Show for geologically challenged significant others.
There's other ways to make money besides selling rocks during the Show, and one is to rent space to dealers in your parking lot, which is just what the Sonoran Desert Marketplace does to host the Desert Pavilion Show. One of their tenants who had already set up shop was Jayhawk Rock Shop of Hill City, Kansas. Shown at center is owner Richard L. "Dick" Henry weighing and marking some large pieces of petrified wood and bone. His business is wholesale oriented. Jayhawk Rock Shop offered numerous buckets full of tumbled materials like agate and jasper. At right is a five gallon bucket of Utah 'Moqui Marbles', which are spherical sand concretions. Not as glitzy as some of the polished materials but interesting none the less.
The Moqui Marbles were going for $1.50 per pound with a five gallon bucketfull minimum. When I told Dick I was interested in concretions and wanted several for photographic specimens for an article I've been considering, he gratiously provided me with a couple of them free of charge.
Just across the street is the Executive Inn, which hosts a highly regarded mineral show. The Executive is one of three hotels providing rooms and services for the Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show, promoted by Marty Zinn. The other locations are at the close-by Ramada Inn, a heavy fossil show, and at the Inn Suites hotel downtown. You didn't have to be an earth scientist to figure out that rock dealers were moving in at the EI.
Several of the Shop's commercial advertising sponsors exhibit here, and of course I'll be back
to visit with them, and many other dealers and rocks at the EI.
Hey, guess who's going to be sporting this stylish Bob's Rock Shop T-shirt at the Show this year? The dealers and their crews are not the only ones who have been busy with preparations... I had fun designing these. I developed the graphic as a black and white GIF format file, which I printed out with a laser printer on a sheet of 8.5" x 14" heavyweight paper, and supplied that to a local screening shop as camera ready artwork.
Hopefully my new T's will spark a few conversations as I make my rounds. I had some extras made up to trade with others who have kindred T-shirts, and reciprocate with those who have given me one of their T's at past Shows.