Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tucson Best Bead Show Recap

Double decker coffee bus between Gem Mall and Holidome.
Get amped and the shop, shop, shop!

I'm finally home after a whirlwind tour of CHA (Craft and Hobby Association) in Anaheim, CA and the Best Bead Show in Tucson, Arizona.  It was so nice to visit with my bead-y friends in person.  I am blessed to work in an industry that is full of loving and caring people.  Bead people rock!  I didn't get as many photos as I usually do.  I suppose I was a bit caught in the moment.  I didn't want to look at my life through a lens but actually actively participated.


I've  known AG for around 10 years and look forward to seeing their business continue to grow and prosper.  They have really neat Swarovski Custom Made Chain.  So smart!

Have you ever been to Tucson for the Gem & Mineral shows?  It is CRAZY!  Thousands of people descend on this small desert city.  All of the hotels along the freeway are turned into mini malls full of gems, minerals, handmade materials, jewelry, supplies and best of all...BEADS!  Lots and lots of beads.  Small beads. Big beads.  Red beads.  Blue beads.  Every kind of bead you can think of.....  In the hotel rooms, sellers flip up beds or remove them entirely and turn each room into it's own little shop.  These are only the smaller shows.  The bigger shows put up HUGE tents filled with vendors waiting and willing to sell you just about anything jewelry related that your heart may desire.  I believe that there were 41 shows (small and large) listed in the Colored Stone Show Guide this year.  41!  There are shuttles that take buyers from one show to another. This really helps in cutting down on parking and walking time.  It is actually much easier to get around than one would think upon first inspection.


Whenever I think of Tucson, I think of my many years spent at the G&LW show at the Rodeway Inn (now Grant Inn).  It is one of the longer shows in Tucson, if not the longest.  I was there every single day for almost 2 weeks, year after year.  If I did a 360 degree spin in our booth, I was surrounded by people from Afghanistan, Africa, China, Russia and India.  It was truly a melting pot.  We haven't done that show in years, so I stopped in and visited with my friends this year.  It looked almost exactly the same.  One of the neatest things about the Tucson gathering is that it brings together people from around the world.


Soft Flex Company exhibits at the Best Bead Show every year. In fact, the Best Bead Show had its 15th anniversary this year and I am pretty sure that we have exhibited in all 15 shows.  It literally is the BEST bead show.  Most of my favorite bead makers and bead peddlers were there again, showing off their newest and latest products.  It seemed to me as if there were a few less buyers in Tucson this year (not surprising after 2009) but the buyers seemed very serious.  In 2009, the buyers seemed very concerned and worried about investing in large quantities.  This year, it felt as if the buyers were very serious about stocking up in large quantities and preparing for a busy and successful year.  It was nice to see just how many designers were buying Soft Flex colored beading wire.  We have not only the largest color selection, we have the best colors to choose from.  Everyone was excited to see the new holiday themed Soft Flex Beading Wire Trios Variety Packs and the coordinating Jamie Hogsett designs that will represent each in our advertising.  Each design will be posted as a free project idea.  Egg Hunt was by far the favorite and sold out in the first few days.
Scott Clark and Mike Sherman
Subway in London, Sept 2009

One missing component this year was Mike and Scott, Soft Flex Company owners.  They are at the Spring Fair 2010 in NEC Birmingham UK.  Although they were terribly missed here stateside, I'm sure that they are busily leaving a lasting impression on the UK bead market.

All in all, we are running full speed ahead into 2010.  I think that this year has all of the promise of being a very successful year. If you have never been to the Tucson shows.  Go next year!  I promise that you will not be disappointed.  You don't have to be a business owner to enjoy yourself.  There are plenty of retail friendly spots as well as wholesale only.

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