Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Politely Worded Guide to Gem Shows

Hello Polite Readers!

It's gem show season here in Tucson Arizona. Our city is full of tents, the hotels are overflowing with vendors and shoppers, there's interesting people from all over the world displaying all manner of gems, beads, fossils and more. It's a very exciting time, but it can also be very stressful. A little polite behavior can go a long way towards making everything go much more smoothly. Here's a few of my best tips:

1. Excuse me, please, and thank you go a long way. Whether you're dealing with a fellow shopper who's blocking your view of something you'd like to buy, or a vendor who needs to tell you how much that amethyst geode is, a smile and a kind word is always appropriate.

2. Take it easy on the booth-help. I've been working at the gem show for 14 years. Because I live in Tucson, about half a dozen different vendors over the years have hired me to help out at their booths. It's a great job and I love it, but sometimes customers can be surprisingly rude. A couple of things to keep in mind: many gem show employees are temporary helpers like me. We might work a few trade shows a year or only this one. We probably don't have the stock memorized (especially on the first day of the show!), so we might have to track down our boss to get an answer to your question. And because we're just temporary employees, we really don't have the power to give you a special discount, so don't get huffy when we say that it's price as marked.

3. Do your homework ahead of time. Get your hands on the show guide or look up the shows on-line. It will help you get an idea of where to find your favorite vendors, where to shop for specific sorts of things (some shows specialize in high-end jewelry, some in rough stone for cutting, some in fossils, some in beads, etc etc), and which shows are wholesale-only.

4. Be mindful of where you set your stuff. Be careful that you don't put a heavy bag of books on top of a display of delicate beads, or leave your rolling bag in the middle of the aisle. Also, keep track of your drinks! We find an awful lot of half-empty water bottles in our booth.

5. When you start to feel antsy, take a little break. It's easy to get overwhelmed, especially in a crowded show. Find a spot to sit down, maybe go outside for some fresh air. Have a snack or drink. Look through your purchases so far.Just a couple of minutes can be enough to melt that stress away.

6. Compliment other shoppers on their incredible taste! It will probably make them smile and you might even make a new friend.

7. Remember that old adage "If you can't say anything nice..." If you don't like a vendor's wares or you think they're overpriced or you saw nicer ones at the last show, don't say so while still standing at their booth.

8. Keep your eye out for chances to do small acts of kindness. Hold the door open for the person behind you, pick up something that someone dropped, chase down the shopper who absent-mindedly left half of their purchase at the booth. It will make you both feel better.

Do you have a situation that you're struggling to handle politely? Drop me a line at and I'll answer your questions on this blog!