Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Rock Hounding at a Rock Show

Getting prepped for the sale with Colorado gems and minerals
I went to Wyoming with a bunch of amazonite and smoky quartz crystals, hoping to sell some minerals at the state rock and mineral show in Riverton, WY. The planning process for any show is a long one. I had to reserve a table for this show nearly 6 months in advance. I paid the table fee in beer to our host when I got there. The trip there was long but fairly uneventful. I had tried to get my long-time digging partner, Bob, interested in the event, but selling rocks is not his thing so I went with an energetic rock hound--Austin who is more interested in making money on rocks and padding his college fund.    
Austin's 1st sale at his 1st show
We went to Wyoming knowing that amazonite and smoky quartz crystals would be rarer there than here in Colorado and figured we could make a few sales. Our host, Al, made everything easy for us and I hope we didn’t impact his sales too much, but I think we entertained him some. We stayed at his cabin in Lander and he even allowed us use of a credit card reader which probably helped us capture a few sales. Since this was our first attempt at selling at a show I figured we would learn a few things and be better prepared next time.

After setting up for the show I perused the other dealers’ wares and an exhibit area. There were about 25 dealers and only a couple of them had amazonite and quartz crystals as side item--which for the most part were broken. Next I went over to look at the exhibits.
Exhibit case with quartz also a nice arrow head display
I was impressed with some of the agate and petrified wood displays--the variety surprised me. The supporting Club had everything well organized and the other vendors made us feel welcome. The host Club also had a kitchen supporting the public and vendors with food and refreshments.
The first day was fairly slow and we wondered if anyone wanted our gems. This was the first time I was on the other side of the counter as a salesperson and it gave me a bit of a different perspective on selling at shows. It was frustrating to spend 10-15 minutes working a potential sale by explaining our crystals, showing varieties, and digging through undisplayed material for special specimens only to be thanked and left without a sale. Most of the looky lous and lucys were fairly cordial; though I thought a few remarks were rude, knowing that this represented a small minority of folks I ignored them. Day 2 started out even slower than day 1 and I thought maybe I should have stayed home. The public was interested in talking and seeing the amazonite and smokys but had a tight grip on their wallets (I felt more like a museum curator). During midday I offered a few discounts but even that made no difference. I had free crystals that I gave to young kids with parents in tow which may have generated a little goodwill but produced no sales. I donated one of the gems bags that I was selling for $20 to the Club’s silent auction. The Club’s silent auction sold the $20 gem bag for $31. I had nearly 100 of these gem bags and sold none. Austin, my show partner, also tried to generate a little buzz by donating some tourmaline to the silent auction, which also went for a higher price than what he was trying to sell them for. We were puzzled. The last hour of the show was the busiest for us. Many of the dealers decided that they liked our gems and purchased several as the show closed making the show a success for us. One dealer had some beautiful thunder eggs which I would have liked to purchase but he packed up a little early and by the time I talked to him the merchandise was gone. 
Do thunder eggs come from thunder birds?

If I had the show to do over again I would have brought a lot less product and more variety, and perhaps spent a little more time with some of the other dealers. I think a few earlier donations to the silent auction might have helped as well--the host Club enthusiastically announced the donors over the loudspeakers. A banner as suggested by Al’s wife and some better lighting mentioned by Austin would probably have helped sales as well. I did talk to a few local vendors and it seemed nobody really had a fantastic show. The lack of sales was blamed on a poor economy in the local area. The entry fee of only $1 may have encouraged many looky lous who might have stayed home with their questions if the fee were closer to $5. We should have had some business cards as well to at least pass out to the other vendors. A little more planning and lessons learned from my first experience should help me out next time if I ever decide to spend the time and the monetary investment to try this again. Thanks again, Al!

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