Tip Guide to Tucson

By on January 27, 2014
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by Judy Ellis, Wire-Sculpture.com

Tip for January 27, 2014

Tip Guide to Tucson!

Tucson is right around the corner and I thought it would be a great idea to start a Tucson Tips discussion. The first three tips will be offered by me, and then I want to hear all your wonderful tips!

1. Don’t want to bother driving and parking at each show? Grab a shuttle guide! There are several shuttles that run in between the shows in Tucson and it really makes getting around to all the shows a breeze.

2. Items to remember so you can get in to all the shows. While some shows are open to the public, some of them require proper credentials to get in.

Bring the following and you should be able to get into any show you want:

  • Sales Tax License,
  • A few recent invoices for supplies or gemstones
  • A business cards or business identification.

3. If you plan on doing a lot of purchasing you may want to bring a rolling bag. Use your energy for the shopping, not lugging around your lute!

Now we want to hear from you guys! What neat tips do you have for a great Tucson trip?


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  1. avatar

    bobbi helms

    January 27, 2014 at 6:58 am

    I WISH i could be in Tucson…but my tip applies to many years of beadfest shows – bring a small (teeny tiny) notebook – or a sharpie to either write down or write directly on the bag – WHAT the stones are you are buying (and if possible – the price). When you get back home with lots and lots of goodies, it’s not easy to remember exactly what it is you bought!

  2. avatar


    January 27, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Bring sunglasses, good walking shoes, hand sanitizer, lunch and drinks (available to purchase but expensive!), a list of what you’re looking for and a notebook to remember where you saw items you want. Have a budget!! Walk around once without buying to compare prices.

  3. avatar


    January 27, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Bring plenty of cash because not everyone accepts cc’s. Also make a list of what you want/need and write down the show and booth number of any products you might want to buy if you choose to wait to buy although I recommend purchasing what you want right away because it will probably be gone if you hesitate. Bring bottles of water and comfy shoes.

  4. avatar

    Janet Davis

    January 27, 2014 at 9:15 am

    I went to Tucson for the first time in 2013 and believe me, all the hype I have read about over the years is nothing compared to actually being there. I traveled with my 16 year old student and her mother and another good friend of mine. We opted to just get a taxi to take us to the shows we were planning to attend. Splitting the fare 3 ways made the taxi not so expensive and worth it because we didn’t have to worry about parking and car rental fees and were able to use the same taxi service almost our whole time there. We got there in time for the G&LW Shows but missed the JOGS Show. The tents are enormous — I went in one tent planning to see 10 vendors that I knew would be there — I only got to 4 vendors because because as we are walking down the aisles our head is going from one side to the other because there is so much to see and you just don’t know where to look!! Bring comfortable shoes and a rolling cart, it makes life so much better. We did go to a couple of outside shows and the ground was uneven and walking was difficult, so if you have knee issues as I do, take your pain medication and be careful. As a jewelry designer and teacher for over 18 years, this was the best experience I have ever had — I spent all of my planned money and then some. I won’t be going to the show this year but it is on my agenda for 2015 and I will probably bring a few more friends. Also, although the temperature was in the low ’70s in February it was hot — I swear they have a different Sun then we have on the east coast lol!!

    Even if you can only go one time, do it, you will be glad you did.


  5. avatar


    January 27, 2014 at 9:39 am

    The desert is DRY. I’m glad someone told me to bring a water bottle and drink it everywhere (I’m a Chicago girl, so we’re pretty humid). Just keep drinking, even when you don’t feel thirsty–you’ll avoid headaches, stomach cramps and more icky feelings that will distract you from shopping.

  6. avatar

    Janice Fingado

    January 27, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Hi, Judy, From a 25-year veteran of the Gem Show let me say first that carrying a lute around the Gem show might lead to some nice relaxing musical moments, but it will take away space from all your loot that you will buy in the Gems category! ;-) I place my business license, part of the resale tax number license, and write my EIN number on it as well,make copies of those licenses,and keep a few in my backpack; but as soon as I have a badge, or the ones I’ve received through the mail, I write all three numbers on the backs of my badges, slip them into their plastic holders, and you can’t imagine the time that saves at the show when all I have to do is flip the badge over for the dealer to copy the numbers. I’ve never had them then ask to see a copy of the licenses. Most important of all: comfortable shoes! After 8-9 hours on your feet, you will be glad. Water bottle! All the lights in the tents and ballrooms are hot, dry and dehydrating. Sit down wherever you see a spare chair, go over your shopping list, cross off things, add others that you’ve seen, re-organize yourself constantly, most efficient thing you can do.If you see a piece you just die for, get it! If it’s reasonable, don’t bother thinking you will find it cheaper at another tent: by the time you’ve gotten to a distant tent, they don’t have it and you’re too tired to walk a football field back to the original, and when you’re back home you will SO regret that you didn’t buy it. Happy shopping!

  7. avatar

    Carole Weaks

    January 27, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Make sure you have reservations for lodging ahead of time…they fill up. Take an extra suitcase, or plan to buy one there…it is cheaper than shipping home. I put one inside the one I am using. Find out which shows area wholesale only…some are all retail prices…..and have a car or a shuttle in your hotel…parking is not good.

  8. avatar


    January 27, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Can I bring a business card only and not the other two?

    • avatar


      January 27, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      Some shows specifically ask for a copy of your resale license (or at least the number). Not all shows do, though, so if you don’t have one, don’t panic. Do look ahead at shows you are interested in to see if they require one or not.

      As far as recent invoices go, I imagine those are mostly so you know the prices of what you’re buying. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and find out you overpaid for something you didn’t need. There are great deals to be had, but not everything is the price you were interested in paying.

  9. avatar


    January 29, 2014 at 11:39 am

    I’ll be going to Tucson for the first time and am SO excited! I don’t have business license, so I’d like to know which shows to go to from those who have been there. I’m primarily interested in unusual minerals and gemstones, and sterling silver findings. I’ve ordered and received my copy of the 2014 Tucson Show guide, but would like to get actual recommendations.

    • avatar

      Beverly Bishop

      January 31, 2014 at 12:28 am

      The first show opened today called the 22nd street show. It’s on 22nd and the freeway onramp to 10. It is one huge tent with fossils, whole dino’s, findings, cab’s and everything else. Most show’s open tomorrow, if you look in your show guide it tells you which are retail and which are wholesale only and then which have both. I think the best show is the Kino sports park on east Ajo and Forgeus the hospital is in the front. You’ll find everything you’re looking for there and its mostly open to the public. If you want to go to other venues there’s a shuttle service that will take you anywhere you care to go. The routes are marked in the show guide by color. There’s the Best Bead show, which is my favorite, opens on the 5th to the 9th in the Kino Veterans Memorial building, across the street from the Kino Sports park. Then there is the To Bead True Blue show, it opens on the 2nd and has a lot of designer artist creations. It is a favorite of mine too and I never miss going at least once. Then the last venue but not least is the Tucson Bead show which I cannot miss as Dale Cougar Armstrong will be there booth s103 along with other artists who regulary write for the daily sites online. It opens the 4th to the 9th also. I do not have credentials so I stick to retail shows. But sometimes I get lucky and am offered a pass as a buyer then I go to the Gem Mall and Joggs. I hope this helps you, but remember one thing…..you will be in the desert so drink water like you’ve never drank it before. Staying hydrated is key to enjoying yourself shopping to your hearts content or going to urgent care. I live here and have to remember that myself. Have lots of fun….BeBeaz