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Tucson Gem Show Off to Rocky Start

Today is day five of the Tucson Gem Show at our location.  There are about 20 different location throughout the city, each with it’s own unique twist and offering.  The location I’m at is wholesale only full of professional buyers intermingled with business owner’s wives looking for good deals.

This show opens daily at 10am and closes at 6pm.  I miss the morning breakfast traffic because of the late start and I really don’t get much traffic at all until after lunch.  Traffic is down from last year, another food vendor commented.  He said that his sales are 40% below what they were last year- and then they were lower than the year before.  So apparently the economy is dealing a major blow to the Gem show.

It’s a far different crowd than the snowbirds of Quartzsite.  A far more sophisticated crowd.  In Quartzsite, Dr. Pepper and free samples were the rage for the wandering retireees, here people want to BUY a sample and then they tip for it!

I’ve never had more requests to buy just one or two donuts!  Kinda hard to make any money selling mini-donuts $1 at a time though.

We’re earning about half what we were making per day at Quartzsite.  That’s not terrible considering the entry costs are half and the show runs almost twice as long.  I was hoping for better sales, but it is what it is and I wouldn’t be doing anything else anyways.

We’re going to fall short on the RV budget based on the projections for the rest of the show.  That means we will head south to Mexico with no motorhome and return to work a fw more show until we earn enough to buy a motorhome that will be reliable for our cross country journey.

I’m tired.  Despite the slow traffic, getting up at 6:30am every morning and working alone all day and then getting back to Hil and the Kids by 7pm wears on me.  Last night, I ate dinner and went to take a ‘quick’ nap at 9pm and didn’t wake up until 6:30 am.  There’s the rub for these LONG shows.  A weekend show you can ‘cowboy up’ and big boy it for a few days.  No matter how much coffee I drink, it’s a lot harder to keep that pace for 14 days.  Somehow slow days make me even more tired knowing we’re not making our projected return.  But projections are just guesses and have nothing at all to do with reality.  Despite the slow sales, I’m still earning about $40 per hour.  We made the show fee on the second day and paid for the materials on the third day.  Now everything else is largely profit (and labor).

The first few days you effectively work for the show organizer.  After you make enough to cover the entry costs of the show you work for the materials supplier.  When you’ve paid for all your food and supplies- now you’re working for yourself!  You hope to be square in the first third, or better yet first quarter, of the show.  Otherwise, you just donated your time to the show organizer.

Welcome to wonderful world of being self employed.  I wouldn’t trade it for the golden handcuffs offered by many corporate jobs these days.  I could be working for  a salary and STILL working 12 hour days five days a week.

Good news, we were accepted into a few more shows already.  I’m waiting on work from the Yuma County Fair and Glendale Blues Fest, but we’re accepted into the Southern Arizona Arts Fest and the Oro Valley Arts Fest.  I have a potential in for another two shows that I’m looking at, but I need to balance that with the time on the boat.  Cash is good but the whole reason we went this route in the first place (besides being broke) was to have the freedom to enjoy living on a boat.

Understandably, not having a land based home of our own is gnawing on me and the impending trek across country looms in my psyche like Mose’s exodus from Egypt.

Charlie went to the doctor for her two month checkup and she A-OK.  She’s really doing well and packing on the pounds.  She’s grown about 5 inches since and she’s in the top 95% for height.  She’s just under the 50% for weight.  Emma was the same, we make skinny babies apparently.  She is ‘just’ turning over from her stomach to back now.

Hil is losing weight quickly.  Two months after Charlie was born she is BELOW her pre-pregnancy weight (I’m not so lucky).  We’re both ready to get more exercise and get back in shape.

Emma is flourishing.  Her vocabulary is expanding tremendously.  She’s putting complete sentences together now and really exploring organizing objects in patterns.  She likes to stack things and carefully place objects in long lines.  Yesterday she organized the pool balls by color.  One striped red one then the solid red one, etc…

Hil has discovered several great parks here in Tucson so Emma can play with other children.  We’ve even discovered a 24 hour McDonalds with indoor playground close by that we can take Emma to in case of inclement weather.  Emma is turning out to be outgoing and unafraid of making new friends, which I’m thankful.  The goodbyes can be hard, but she can find play friends just about anywhere we go.

It’s 7:30am, It’s time to make the donuts!

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3 comments to Tucson Gem Show Off to Rocky Start

  • the Mimi

    Sounds like everyone is doing well despite the hard work! We all knew Emma was advanced for her age!!! And that Charley is perfect as well. Miss all of you.

    The Mimi.

  • Mariam Trotter

    Hi JC, I just found you site and it is really incredible! I did not see where I could just leave a comment not associated with what you wrote so I hope this is OK. My husband and I have decided to try the liveaboard experience..have thought about it for a while and now with all kids gone, and the economy the way it is…we are about to walk away from the biggest headache in our lives and head for the water…the only problem for us…we know nothing! I mean he knows how to sail and I know how to lay in the sun :-) We have lived owned a horse ranch for the last 8 years and are very adaptable to unique ways of life…we just need something more simple…than 52 animals and 24 hour care of those animals. We do have real jobs…but flexible ones (he is a fire captain an I am an on call phlebotomist) and we just want something different. Are there boat salesman we can trust to walk us through things or are they like car dealers (no offense if you have ever been a car salesman) and we live in northern CA but are not sure how to find places to live on a boat..?? I am going to spend the next few days reading through your site for possible info but was hoping you could give me a starting point. Do people ever rent boats to liveaboard…to try this life…although we really want to buy…we are on a time line…probably need to be out by April or May. So many questions. Thanks again for this fantastic site and I look forward to your reply! take care- Mariam

  • big cheese

    Check out an ASA approved coastal cruising or live aboard class for a weeks worth of experience living on a boat. It will be a great start.