Monday, January 26, 2015

It Takes Some Endurance to Sell in Quartzsite, Arizona

Tonight we're back home in our cozy room, internet and all, ready to share our first road trip of the year with you, namely to Quartzsite, Arizona.  Eduardo and I spent January 21st through the 25th selling at the QIA Pow Wow in Quartzsite, and it was windy, dusty, hot, cold, sunny, challenging, did I mention dusty, and most importantly, FUN.
QIA (Quartzsite Improvement Association)
First off, contrary to the way it sounds, the "Pow Wow" is not a Native American event.  I tell you this because I myself was surprised to learn this when we visited the Pow Wow last year, in 2014.  I was expecting rituals and Native American dancing.  Wrong!  What the Pow Wow IS, is a gathering of rock, gem and jewelry dealers who camp out in their RV's, Vans or Tents for five or six days on this big dusty plot of land, did I mention dusty, in order to offer for sale an interesting variety of rocks, gems, mineral specimens, jewelry, jewelry findings and more, share their love of the business, and enjoy the camaraderie of like minded people.  There are over 500 vendors who come from all over the world to sell at this event, and the same awesome volunteers return year after year as well to lend a hand. 
Here I am the first morning, waking up after a brisk night, getting ready to set up our booth.
Oh, you say, look at that cushy RV they are sleeping in behind them.  Oh, no, no, no.  That belongs to the neighbors.  We are enjoying more cozy accomodations.
Our little home away from home for five days.
But comfortable and warm, we slept like babies, despite the temperature dropping into the high 30's each night.  The only disadvantage was if you had to make a late night trip to the Porta Potty.  Oh so very, very chilly.  And yet this is one of the things I love about Quartzsite.  It definitely shakes you out of your comfort zone. 
The day starts to warm up and our booth takes shape.
Now set up and ready to do business, with everything looking nice and pretty, the one thing we did not count on for the first day was the wind.  We are Pow Wow novices.  We did not anticipate wind.  The winds came at a good clip the first day, reaching almost 30 mph, and I soon learned that everything I brought would pretty much be covered in a layer of dust for the duration of the show.  The top of the tent went flappity, flappity, flap, wearing on our nerves and pulling on the tent stakes, even though they were embedded in dirt as hard as concrete. 
Although this is one way to tie down the tent for the night, we ended up just taking it off, where it remained for the duration of day two as the wind continued to blow.
Since we are not particularly good early morning sellers, we quickly fell into our daily routine for the rest of the show.  Each morning around 9:15, we would take a walk to get coffee and a homemade cinnamon roll from the concession stand, and visit some of the other booths.
Eduardo with the largest piece of natural amber we have ever seen.  This specimen is from Malaysia.

An impeccable strand of spiny oyster shell beads with turquoise inlay by silversmith and jewelry artist Tom Kidd.  He actually painstakingly set tiny pieces of turquoise into the crevices of the spiny oyster, and the results were spectacular.  I would love to own this piece!
The scrumptious colors of these pieces of glass found in the desert made me wish I was a glass artist.
Then each day we would return to our booth around 10:30 or so and set up for the day.  The discipline of setting it up, taking it down, setting it up, taking it down, setting it up, taking it down.... for five days.... is challenging.  Another reason why I loved being in Quartzsite.  There I go out of my comfort zone again!  The wind died down by Day Three, and it was smooth sailing, weather wise for the duration of the show.
All in all we were happy with our booth, but I had to constantly shift the amber and the photos as the sun moved, because the Arizona sun is intense and those items needed to be in the shade.  Didn't really anticipate the strength of the sun anymore than we anticipated the wind!  And so each day we learn something new.
Here's Eduardo working on a wire wrap design for a customer.  He always seems to draw extra onlookers when he's doing his beautiful work.
So that sounds like fun and all, Linda, you say, but how do people stay clean out there in that dustbin of a gem show?  Well, not in the bathroom at the event, that's for sure.
No baths in the sink.  LOL.  That sign cracked me up.  You KNOW how I love a good sign.
But you can walk a few blocks to the local laundromat and have yourself a shower for $7.00 per person (5am to 6:45 pm), and do laundry to boot, if you like, so there are some conveniences near by.

And food, you ask?  The dining hall has very affordable and delicious home cooked dinners served by smiling, energetic senior volunteers who are downright adorable every evening.  And if you tire of the dining hall, you can venture out once again by just walking a few blocks to try out the local cuisine.  Friday night I was craving a beer, and so we tried out Taco Mio.  The food was good, but we were not fond of the way you had to wait in line to order, then go find a table, and then wait for the food.  We did not get the best vibe there, and did not love the service.  Hence no picture.  But the next night, Saturday night, we took a walk again and tried out Silly Pete's.
Silly Pete's was as crowded as all get out, and we waited an hour for a table and another hour for our pizza.  But there was a live band, and once we got our beer, we started to relax.  I could have sat there all night.  The gourmet pizza was delicious, the music was really good, and it was FUN!  This place I highly recommend.  On our walk home, we passed a used RV lot, where we saw this little number for a mere $344,037.00.  Really?
One very pricey RV!
Sunday was the last day of the show for us, and we ended up learning about selling in yet another different kind of environment.  We sent home happy customers with Mexican gems and cultural items, brass Native American and Mermaid pieces, Mermaid Prints, Milagro necklaces, Amber and more.  We connected with vendors and visitors alike that we see at show after show, that have become our friends.  We made new friends.  We withstood wind, dust, heat and cold, as well as nippy midnight walks to the bathroom.  A successful week!  We packed up before dark and tried out one last restaurant in Quartzsite before heading home.  This time it was Grubstake Bar and Grill, which was significantly less crowded since the Pow Wow had drawn to a close.  The inside of the restaurant was really charming, and food simply delicious.
Grubstake Bar and Grill
We stopped at the local Chevron to gas up for the drive home, and encountered another thing we like about Quartzsite.  The gas prices!  Yes, my California friends, that is regular at under $2.00 a gallon.  Amazing.
We haven't decided yet if we will sell again next year at the Pow Wow.  We are taking a little time to wash the dust out of our hair, get some good rest, and then we'll decide.  But you'll be the first to know.

Thanks so much for following our adventures, and Buenas Noches.



  1. omgosh you guys are troupers!! I would never have fared so well!!!

  2. Hi Linda and Eduardo,
    Thanks for the Kudos on our Powwow.... I am the guy you met every night cleaning the dining room! Loved chatting with you two! Your enthusiasm was awesome!
    Glad you liked our show... please be sure to come back next year - it is a "tradition"!!!! I'll have lots of pictures on our website soon (I do the QIA Website also)...
    Take care and safe travels!