Super Bowl Sunday – at home

I have a lot of new readers and new beaders coming to my blog now thanks to the traffic on my YouTube channel. So Hi there! That also means I need to explain to the newbies what Tucson is. Yes, a city! But in February, Tucson turns into the biggest and best bead and gem shopping experience in the US. There are 40+ shows that run in the city – everything from shows specializing in high-end cut gemstones and jewelry to the shows with rough rock for the home and hobby cutter to cut themselves. Tents full of pearls and bead strands and findings and artisan materials. There are bead shows, strand shows, wholesale only shows, and an African Art Village show.

This is the first Super Bowl Sunday in 10 years that I’ve been at home. Normally by this time of year I’m in Tucson, with my booth all set up at the show, and missing the first half of the game. I’ve managed to see the second half (minus the half-time entertainment) most years by rushing back to my lodging after the show closes. But not this year.

I am still going to Tucson, but as a shopper and schmoozer instead of a vendor. It feels weird. I’m partially giddy at the thought of being free from my tethers at the booth. But I’m also a little freaked out at the trip being 100% expense and no income. After all these years of building a business it’s hard to turn off the “don’t spend a dime more than you have to” mentality.

My plans are to meet with various friends and acquaintances to network and talk about new and potential projects, to discover the coolest fresh products that are out there in the bead world, and to buy roughly a ton and a half of pearls for kits. Okay, maybe slightly less than that. But a lot. I’ve got a very long shopping list.

People sometimes ask me why I’d go to Tucson to shop when there are so many online options these days. My answer is that there is nothing like seeing it, fondling it, and picking out the exact strands you want in person. How many times do you order online and discover you’re disappointed with the quality, or color, or size of what arrives? (This is why it’s SO important to support your local bead stores and buy there. We count on them!) Now multiply that disappointment by 10x and you’ll get an idea of my dismay when I’ve purchased 50 strands of pearls and have them arrive scratched, or pitted, or badly dyed.

Being in person at Tucson also means I can talk to the vendors face-to-face and find out the stories behind their product. How it was created, what the production is like, what’s new, what’s selling best, and how I can get my hands on it the rest of the year.

So tonight I’ll be watching the football game from my comfy sofa at home but I’ll be working on fleshing out that shopping list as I do it. Tuesday I hit the road. Wednesday I arrive in Tucson. If I don’t see you there, I’ll see you back here as I report on what I find!

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