Jan 29, 2014 10:47 PM by Samantha Ptashkin

Tucson gem shows help boost local economy

TUCSON- Every winter the Tucson gem shows attract hundreds of dealers, all ready to sell the best minerals, beads and jewels.

And with that shimmery showcase, comes the customers, from near and far.

Over the next two weeks about 55,000 people will be visiting Tucson, to check out more than 40 shows across town. Local businesses like Empire Pizza & Pub on Congress Street, welcome the crowds. "It's kinda fun, especially when you get people from the east coast," Kathy Lauderdale says. "They come in and they're excited for New York pizza."

Lauderdale says the two weeks help bring in a lot of business. Not only do they serve customers in the store, they also deliver pizzas to people at the shows.

Other businesses like Rainbow Ice Company, park a truck at one of the shows. "This is a great business because everyone that comes to see us is happy and they're looking forward to some new treat," says Owner Marlene Rockwell of Green Valley.

It's a jam packed couple of weeks that bring in about $100 million to the local economy. "I love being in Tucson, I try to stay a few extra days and go see sites," says Rebecca Blair, who visits every year from Gainesville, FL.

The big gem show, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, is set for February 13-16 at the Tucson Convention Center.

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