So you want to go to the Denver Gem Show...

The very best time to write a blog about traveling, especially to a gem show, is the second you step off the plane back home.  There are so many details that begin to get scrambled I don’t think it’s possible to get in on paper fast enough.  As a buyer for a midsized, ecommerce, retail gem and mineral business, there is a great deal of planning that goes into the show and only a fraction of happenings that go down as the plan was written.

Our first order of business this year at the Denver Gem and Mineral Show was to get ourselves an adequately sized Airbnb in an excellent proximity to the sales.  Few people are aware that the “Denver Gem Show” is a series of shows around the Denver area happening all at different dates and times, most overlapping.  We recommend staying near to the Coliseum/Western complex shows.  These shows are large and as a reseller you could easily spend 2-3 days here alone.  The other must stop spots are the Crown Plaza and Clarion Hotels.  The Crown Plaza is near-ish to the airport and the Clarion is reasonably close to the coliseum.  Don’t wait to get your Airbnb or VRBO…book it as soon as your mind is set on going.  Closer to the end of these shows, the fine mineral show at the Marriott starts and the official Denver Gem and Mineral show is the punctuation on this massive event.

Next order of business on is getting the lay of the land in our Airbnb.  We have live sales while out of town, so we must worry about internet, outlets, lighting, table space, tablecloths, staging area, shipping area, and then where to store all the items that don’t make it on the table.  How to live sale on the road is not a science, it takes some planning, some luck, and a lot of “just make it happen” attitude!

Be prepared the day the shows open.  Shops waste no time getting to work and you shouldn’t either, it’s GO MODE TIME.  We have now attended these shows for the first days they were open and for the last days before closing two separate years.  Surprisingly we felt like we got a lot of material when we went at the end of the shows.  We undoubtedly got some stellar deals going for the latter half.  However, I would always recommend earlier to later unless you’re on a tight budget.  The crème of the crop is out at the start and it takes a lot longer to hunt down those special finds at the end than it does at the beginning. 

The cash quandary is only as difficult as you make it.  Sellers want cash.  If you don’t have it, most will take a check without hesitation.  Credit cards on the other hand are not as widely accepted by the international wholesalers.  It’s a bit of a low blow to ask for any deals or breaks in price then bust out a credit card throwing additional fees on a vendor and a delayed payment.  I recommend keeping checkbooks handy.  For the times it is appropriate to use a credit card, make sure you warn your CC companies that not only will you be out of town, but the cards could appear on paper to look like they are being run all over the world at once.  A vendor from Brazil is going to run your card and it will look like you bought something in Brazil, 10 minutes later you could have a charge from Michigan, then Colorado, etc etc….so plan accordingly and warn your bankers. 

Bring water.  Lots of water.  Places like the Crown Plaza and Clarion have places to fill a water bottle but nowhere to eat.  On the contrary, the Coliseum and surrounding shows have lots of delicious food trucks and no free water.  Don’t waste your time searching for a beverage, just carry it in.   Eat regularly.  No matter how healing your crystal haul is, it won’t regulate your blood sugar or keep you from dehydrating.

Now you’ve gone to all the stops, you’ve checked the hot spots twice, now WTF are you going to do with all these rocks.  You have options.  UPS is easy.  They are at the Western Complex and you can drive up a big ramp into the building to unload your purchases and have them weighed.  This option, next to boxing and shipping USPS, is very convenient and requires minimal thinking and planning.  Your best bet, if you can plan a little, is to call a freight service ahead of time, such as Old Dominion, and set up a time and place for them to pick up your pallet at the show or with a liftgate at your Airbnb.  Remember, there are hundreds of people doing what you’re doing, just ask questions until you get the answers you need.  People are there to help and there is no lack of friendliness from veteran freight shippers.

No matter what brings you to the Denver Gem and Mineral Show, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience.  Even someone who says ridiculous things like “why would anyone collect rocks?” is sure to be swept away by the sheer size of the show and some of the crystal monsters that are priced in the millions.  Its like the MTV cribs of crystals.  Even if you can’t afford to be the person on the inside, its totally worth the trip just to enjoy the sights.




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