Thursday, October 05, 2017

Let's talk about Tucson

Over the past few months we've been trying to come up with a plan for Tucson, since the show we usually do abruptly moved to a casino fourteen miles out of town. To us, this seemed ludicrous. Not only is it far and out of the way, the folks wandering around a casino are likely to be uninterested in artisan beads. I mean, every casino I've ever been to contained folks whose focus was completely engaged in cards or slots. But that's only one thing. 

After years and years of doing Tucson, from when the Best Bead was at the La Quinta ( I was freshly out of college and completely overwhelmed) and at one point doing three different locations, we've noticed some changes. For one thing, why are the shows running to almost two weeks? Who has that kind of energy to stand all day and be pleasant and helpful and not eat, or get enough bathroom breaks? I noticed the shows start off strong, then attendance drops drastically, with just vendors milling about. Sure, you make a little money, but it's mostly folks coming back to pick stuff up. I think it loses momentum. For the last few years, I've been trying to come up with a solution. The first one of begging the promoter to have mercy and shorten it didn't work, ( maybe because the hotel had a deal with them, so it didn't matter a jot if it was ghost town or not - who knows? ). The second was to move shows. Unfortunately, the traffic at the smaller shows was dwindling, so that wasn't good. Then we thought about joining Gem Mall or one of the other big ones. This didn't seem like a good fit either, because those are still long and also expensive. 

Anyway, this subject was being discussed at length (again) at dinner with fellow vendors and Greg said to Ava 'Let's just forget those other shows and do our own. It can be whatever we want it to be! We could have demonstrations, good food and drinks, music, puppets! ( ok he didn't say puppets, but really we could if we wanted to!).'  So, we decided then and there to just do it.  Go all in.  Right now we have a space and some vendors, but we need more. Maybe ideas on how we can bring that old excitement back? Remember when Tucson was so anticipated that folks were willing to sleep 6 in a room because the whole town was bursting with beaders and stone dealers? It used to be so fun, that I could hardly stand it. Somewhere along the way it got stretched out and lost the shine. I want to make it magical again. If you'd like to be a part of this, shoot me an email, or leave some suggestions for the perfect show.


Beth said...

Great idea...I agree with everything about Tucson being exciting way back when.
And I like the idea of puppets.

Joan Tucker said...

Lana and I loved the old days; we are retired and do painting and pottery now; if pottery would be appropriate in the shows maybe we could join in the future; we have done shows with Ava. I love your idea; the new direction of Ana's show is plain crazy, mad, like megalomania.. the show producer is the only one that wins. Congrats on being bold and brave; I will talk this up on Facebook.. you guys rock!! Joan Tucker and Lana Weed Off Center Productions

Cynthia Thornton said...

I think folks are ready for something different after this wave of importers as far as the eye can see. Handmade is seeing a real resurgence. I'll be sure and pack my favorite puppets then.

Cynthia Thornton said...

Thanks Joan! We will need all the support we can get! Times are so different now, probably too much of the same thing. I remember going to the show and seeing things I'd never even heard of, booth after booth of amazing finds, artists coming from all over the world! Remember when the Japanese glass artists used to come? I discovered some of my favorite artists back then.

Jenny said...

Greg and I were talking about just this at Bead Fest last Aug. I haven't ever done Tucson for all those reasons you listed and more. (Drive vs fly? Work the show solo? No artist table level only full booth? $$$) But this? This would entice me. A smaller show with a unique identity. Artisan bead/maker friendly. Create buzz, add elements of art, fun.... Please keep me informed - I want to consider this!

Joan Tucker said...

yes I came out of higher education and Tucson was like on the moon so so much fun and adventure and great artists and yummy stuff.. lots of artists and adventurers and then more imports and folks knocking each other off and the same same same.. Kelly Russell is someone who was like no one else.. I made porcelain faces.. is was all was so much fun.
Good luck..