On Sunday November 22nd we took the time to travel over 250 kms to London Ontario for the London Gem and Mineral Show. What an exciting array of mineral and fossil vendors were in attendance at this event. The highlight of this show for me was Sumar Minerals who was displaying the most interesting fossils, specimens and mining stuff that I've seen around here!
The selection of local area bead vendors was however very disappointing, further proof that if I must undergo a 500 km round trip just to find a grouping of bead vendors then I might as well continue the extra few kms to the states where Intergem shows offer a hundred times the selection, better quality, friendlier vendors, no purchase minimums, no sales tax, and incredible discounts on bulk purchases.
A few members of The Toronto Beading Society were displaying their wares at the 2009 London Gem and Mineral Show. By accident I found myself at the Robert Hall Originals booth where I was offered no wholesale discount even after I offered to present my vendor permit. Apparently these folks want to make it as difficult as possible for designers to cash in on the tax concessions to which they are entitled. When I offered to show them my vendor permit I was advised that I'd have to fill out their tax exemption forms. We emailed this vendor ten days ago for clarification on their wholesaler dealings and if a response is forthcoming we will advise.
Lots of vendors at this show were however accepting presentation of a valid Ontario Vendor Permit as proof of B2B status by immediately dropping the taxes... but sadly this can't be said of the Robert Hall booth. The Robert Hall Originals site claims to offer wholesale terms. They advertise bead courses for budding jewelry enthusiasts so one would assume that B2B terms form a good chunk of their business model. But perhaps if you're willing to plead and grovel while standing at their trade show booth you'll get the discounts you're entitled to. Dunno!
Blue Sapphire Bead Loft was running a retail special (50% off select semi precious strands) and I was told they offered no discounts on fine beads (their selection of finer cuts was okay but not of outstanding quality). The Blue Sapphire website has no valid email address currently published and there appears to be widespread confusion online concerning the status of a Brampton location (which is apparently now closed).
The Blue Sapphire site claims to offer wholesale terms for shows and some sort of a wholesale database (but if you want to be included there I guess you'll have to phone since their published email doesn't work). I didn't try to call them and at this point I won't follow up to see if their published phone number is in service.
A booth with an interesting selection of gemstone beads was Kulu Trading where they told me all prices were as marked with the exception of a scant discount area. This appears to be an Ottawa based venture and I didn't gather links or contact info but hey guys, I was getting a tad discouraged :(
Such is life in my handmade jewellery world. My American friends always ask why I shop for materials in the states. well, it's a "no brainer". Now you know why I also like to use a reputable and accomplished bead cutter located in India and why I import 90% of my materials. So, my designs differ from those of other local artisans? Go figure!