Vendors: Social media could draw students to gem show

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The arrival of the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase is marked by the familiar white tents that pop up all around town. The popular event, which takes place this year from Jan. 28 to Feb. 12, provides Tucsonans the opportunity to check out gems and much more.

But while the gem show is considered a Tucson staple, the numbers of Tucsonans roaming the vendors is usually far outmatched by out-of-towners. UA students are a particularly underrepresented demographic. 

Many vendors believe that the presence of more students could be beneficial, especially if they learned about the event through social media. 

Several UA students said they’ve heard of the gem show or seen the tents, but never attend because they don’t know much about it. Many, like Kimberly Perez, a senior studying psychology and Spanish, heard about it from friends—often the extent of exposure many students receive.

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Students consider social media a primary source of information and find it would be a good way to advertise to their age group. 

Itzel Gamez, a sophomore studying architecture, said she is able to appreciate the gem show because she’s a local and grew up knowing about it. 

“I think students don’t know because it’s not something that’s advertised here,” Gamez said. “I don’t think people are aware.” 

She said she has seen a lack of college students whenever she’s gone to the gem show. 

Undecided sophomore Sergio Acosta also said there is a lack of coverage on social media about the event. He feels that because of this they’re missing out on the UA population.

“They’re not keeping up-to-date with targeting the younger kids,” he said. 

Vendors also find that there should be a larger effort to spread information about the gem show to college students through social networks.  

John Fellows is the owner of Avian Oasis, which specializes in gemstone beads and cut gemstones. He said he would like to see more college students at the show. 

“Advertising has really changed over the years,” he said. “The only way is through social media.”  

While he said he mostly sells higher-end merchandise to older women, the college students he sells items to tend to get cut stones because they’re a little more affordable.

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Michael Gonzales, from Treasure Island Jewelry, knows how beneficial social media is when it comes to students and young people.

“I do a show with a lady who puts the word out through Facebook—primarily pictures and postings—and it’s very successful,” he said. “So I think that’s a way to reach out to a younger crowd.”

According to Gonzales, his turquoise and rings are hits with college students.

College students that do make purchases at the gem show help business, but not as much as older buyers. Vendors acknowledge that college students cannot afford to buy expensive merchandise and are just content with the sales they can make. 

Laser Trees sells hardwood jewelry and decor by artist Shawn Kessler.

He said he doesn’t rely on college students for big sales, but he likes that he can attract them through the affordability of his products.

According to Kessler, wholesale buyers are who he gets the most business with, but he does sell to the occasional college student. He attributes these sales to his low prices, which he said are generally 50 percent cheaper than the prices of other businesses.  

Lisa Hagar from Hagar’s Fossils and Minerals is another vendor who sells affordable items to include college students.

“They’re college students, so it’s going be hard for them to have money to spend, but we have stuff for them,” she said. “They don’t have as big of an impact as some of the other people, but it’s all right.”

In her experience selling, she said that college students like healing crystals and minerals the most. 

Vendors believe that there are steps the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show can take to truly pique curiosity in students. With a stronger social media campaign, perhaps future gem shows will cater more to a younger crowd. 


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