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Sluggish start to gem shows

Citizen Staff Writer



The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase is off to a slow start.

Sellers are leery of the economy but remain hopeful things will pick up as buyers hunt for just the right stone.

“So far we’re still waiting for it to get started,” said Shay Clayton, 58, a seller from Phoenix who’s on his eighth year at the gem shows.

“Even if we didn’t make money, it’s just so much fun to come here and and see everybody from all over the world,” he said.

Deepak Maloo, 43, of Jaipur, India, said this year is his eighth and worst year, with an 80 percent drop in sales so far when compared with previous years.

He expected lower sales but didn’t think they would be as bad as they are, he said.

But even with lower sales, there are buyers.

Bruce Catlin, 54, owns a metaphysics store in northern California called Soul Connections. This year is his ninth coming with his daughter, Erica Catlin, 19.

“It’s been a father/daughter thing every year,” Erica Catlin said. Her mom stays home every year to run the store.

Bruce Catlin said he is spending just as much money as he did in previous years, but is more selective because of the economy. He arrived a few days early to buy at events for wholesalers.

After scrutinizing each rock with a loupe (magnification device), enthusiast Fred Friel, 54, of Boise, Idaho bought a bag each of amethyst and citrine from Rebecca Kabosha, 48, a Zambian seller.

This is Kabosha’s third year at the gem shows. Like many other sellers, she is reporting a drop in sales but is hopeful she will make a profit after paying $3,096 for her booth.

Despite the anticipation of a slow economy, there are sellers here for the first time.

Daniel Webster, 34, drove with his wife, Brianne, 29, and son, Isaac, 8, from their home in Utica, N.Y.

He rents his booth for $50 a day and can pack up and move if he feels he is losing money.

Isaac, who is home-schooled, was enjoying the weather as he played with his best friend Harrisen Fusco,7, whose family is visiting the Tucson area from Deerfield, N.Y.

“This is definitely a nice time for me to be here,” Isaac said. “Because in New York, I would be an icicle.”

Also in the sun, but under a red parasol, was Violeta Yarosh, 73, of Tucson. This is her second year at the gem shows and she plans to bring her friends.

“They all want to come,” she said.

Gem shows

The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase – an international marketplace of buyers and sellers – runs through Feb. 15.

It consists of 45 shows at 42 sites, including the 55th annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show at the Tucson Convention Center.

Dozens of shows will take place at the same time downtown and at other locations – in giant white tents, at hotels, resorts and exhibit halls.

There’s something for everyone at the many public shows, from gold and diamonds to granite bookends and glass beads to fine specimens of dinosaur fossils to opals dug from the Australian outback.

Some shows are open to wholesale buyers only and require credentials to enter. Most of the gem and mineral shows operate from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For a complete schedule, log on to www.xpopress.com/ Tucson-show-schedule.html

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