OakRocks has exhibited at the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show under the name Barlow’s for over 40 years!
Bruce attended the show in 1981, hanging with friends and tailgating (selling without an assigned space). In 1982 we purchased a rock and mineral business and it included a contract to Room 100 at The Pueblo Inn. We exhibited there until 2003-picking up Room 102 along the way. We also, through the years, have had a second, and even third location, at the Holidome, AGTA, GJX, the Days Inn, and Congress Street Expo. Then the Pueble Inn sold and the new owner decided to manage the show. We weren’t happy with the rule changes and the higher fees so, even though it was terrifying, we relocated to the InnSuites show. We were lucky enough to score a two-room suite and never regretted the move!
As the years went by our business expanded more into rough rock, something very difficult to sell out of a hotel room. Though the show promoter was awesome letting us use parking lot space, around 2016 several bigger dealers began to invest in their own warehouse spaces, and with the help of a good friend, we found the perfect spot and made the plunge in 2017 and opened The Rock Yard show in 2018. Because we loved the InnSuites show, we decided to split our display and sell the rough rock from the warehouse. However, as luck would have it, the InnSuites, (which had been renamed The Tucson Hotel City Center), sold and once again the new owner decided to manage the show.
And then Covid hit. The InnSuites show no longer exist, but it turned out to be good for us, as we moved everything to The Rock Yard and have never regretted the move!
Though most of the hotel shows have undergone several hotel ownership and name changes, new shows have started up, and some shows have ended or moved, for the most part the Tucson Gem Show was pretty consistent for a long time. But boy has it changed a lot in the last 4-5 years! If you haven’t gone since Covid, you will be shocked when you make it next.
Here is a list of the shows with special notes about the changes (I’m not listing dates of the shows as they do change-but traditionally the Main Show is the second weekend of February and all the satellite shows run on average the prior 2 weeks-though some, such as The Rock Yard, open in early January!) :
The Mineral City Show
(check out this link for a map and vendors list of this whole area)
Perhaps the biggest change is the growth of The Mineral City Show. Situated near Lester St and Oracle, this great show encompasses several buildings spanning from Oracle to Fairview and Lester St to Plata St-and it’s still growing!
The Rock Yard
615 W Lester St
Barlow’s exhibits here. Though not officially a Mineral City exhibitor, we are happy to be included in the Mineral City family! At The Rock Yard we are open in early January thru the second weekend of February. We have a yard full of drums with a huge variety of rough rock for lapidary or large boulders for landscaping. We also have a designer cabochon room, a high-end gallery of collector polished rocks and large minerals, and a warehouse full of rocks, minerals, polished rocks and slabs, and some amazing animal carvings!
In 2024 The Rock Yard will be opening on January 16 th and run through February 11 th.
Other shows nearby and included in The Mineral City Show family include:
Sun Gemstones (Mineral Village)
La Fuente de Piedras
And there are some more new shows there, including the Blue Moon Mineral Show, with plans for more to come!
Just across the street (Oracle) there are even more shows:
1820 Oracle Wholesale Show
Just Minerals and Crystals Event at the Elks Lodge
The new tent show- RMGM Mineral and Fossil Show
Norcross Madagascar Minerals
And just down Oracle there is:
Mineral and Fossil Co-op
Mineral & Fossil Marketplace
AND nearby in the surrounding area you can find:
American Indian Fine Art Show
JK Stone Warehouse Show
Perhaps the biggest, most popular show now is the:
22 nd Street Mineral, Fossil and Gem Show is huge, with over 300 dealers it is one of the three largest shows open to the public.
The Holidome show moved to a new location a few years back. JOGS, Kino, Gem Mall and JG&M Expo are still there, but some of the larger dealers also have moved to their own warehouses-Enter the Earth, and the Arizona Independent Warehouse show.
The InnSuites show (The Hotel Tuscon City Center) is gone, but some dealers have their own places along Granada Ave, including- the high-end Granada Gallery and Fine Minerals International shows. Rumor has it there will be some dealers in the Door and Sash building this year.
The Main show (club show) and AGTA are still at the Convention Center, with GJX still across the street.
And what’s known as the Strip (the hotels along the freeway access road off Congress) are still there, but again rumor has it they won’t be there much longer??
There were 37 shows listed in the 2023 Tucson Show Guide and 44 listed in The MetaGuide Tucson 2023 Gem, Jewelry, Mineral & Fossil Shows! If you come to the Tucson Gem Show, come see us at The Rock Yard first as we have both Show Guides available and they are helpful in planning your days.
Please be aware, The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is geared towards business to business, and for many of the shows you must have a tax license to get in. The Main Show at the Convention Center and the 22 nd Street Show are great for a one day trip for retail buyers.
Prepare to be amazed! Book your stay a long time in advance. Plan your days out carefully. There is no way you can see it all-so don’t even try. Eat right and stay hydrated. And have a blast. The Tucson Gem Show is huge, energizing, exciting and exhausting!