Tucson, Arizona is the hub of mineral-related activities at the beginning of each year with the Gem & Mineral Show. However, as ancillary shows have grown over the years, it got to be a real problem for buyers who had to drive all over the city to visit dealers. Collectors simply could not stay in the city for days on end as other shows opened and closed on different dates. The feeling grew among collectors that monies spent for lodgings, food and such over a protracted period took away from the collector’s purchasing powers. Some began limiting their time in Tucson to save money that could be spent on specimens.
As the shows in Tucson continue to mature and business potentials adjust, it is only natural changes happen including the consolidation of dealers who specialize in a given area of collecting. Recognizing this, some promoters are adjusting.
One such change is Mineral City. This is a cluster of new buildings that brings together some 100 retail dealers so each can operate independently year-round with all functioning during the January-February time. Each is a retail shop, but each can also function as a warehouse for the dealer and can be opened by appointment.
This approach to mineral sales was a first step in establishing Tucson as a year-round mineral site. What was needed were regularly planned mineral events on selected dates throughout the year that collectors and dealers could plan on and where collectors could enjoy minerals and related activities: talks, group events, sales, and more. We now have this, thanks to a newly established mineral location, the Tucson Fine Mineral Gallery.
Tucson Fine Mineral Gallery
This is the movement of several top dealers from the Westward Look Hotel on Ina Road to a centrally located building located on the corner of Saint Mary’s Avenue and N. Granada, just a half dozen blocks from the Tucson Convention Center. When the city consolidated by moving the Chamber of Commerce to another location, the building was put up for sale and was bought by a major mineral dealer, Crystal Classics, which established the Tucson Fine Mineral Gallery in the building.
This is not a huge building, but it is ideal for what has become a mineral facility that holds a select number of what I call high-end dealers and in-depth mineral activities. Of course, it has been completely renovated now to accommodate a handful of top dealers, food services, and meetings and even boasts a nice outdoor patio area.
Dealers include Collector’s Edge, Graeber and Himes, Crystal Classics, Nicholas Stolowitz Fine Minerals, Rudolph Minerals, and Blue Cap Productions.
Activities at the Tucson Fine Mineral Gallery go well beyond just offering minerals for sale. A series of mineral-related weekend events will happen throughout the year so mineral-related activities in Tucson won’t be confined to a few winter weeks. These weekends are planned so they do not conflict with other established mineral shows. For example, on the weekend of May 12 to 14, the Gallery will host an open weekend with all resident mineral dealers on site.
The Tucson Fine Mineral Galley is an excellent example of continued growth and changes happening as an outgrowth of the annual Tucson Event. It represents much more than a change in mineral growth in Tucson and begins to establish it as the mineral capital of the world.
This story about Tucson’s year-round mineral offerings previously appeared in Rock & Gem magazine. Click here to subscribe. Story by Bob Jones.