Changsha Mineral Show Report 3

20 May 2013

The saga of the shipment:  here’s the scene – Wayne and Lois at the customs section of the Changsha airport – Lois grabbing a chair - stands on it to peek over the wall of the holding area yelling “I see them, I see them” – customs not amused – 4.5 hours later a more considerate customs man says ‘ take them and we won’t open them but we reserve the right to inspect your booth – we will deliver them tonight” – well, ‘tonight’ turns out to be 1:00 am on opening day!!   It costs us $600 to do our shipment from Laguna and $1,600 to ‘bail them out’ of customs – storage fees!

Day 1:

Boy, did we scramble and four hours into the show, after a typical Chinese speak laden opening ceremony, we were sort of set up.  The first day was VIP’s only and there sure are a mess of them!!    Lots of lookers but few takers.  I’m told this is typical of the first day. 

The booths being constructed on the previous days

Our booth as it nears the finish of construction

Wayne and Lois in the booth as we rush to finish set up on Opening Day

Customers have a look around the finished booth

A bird's eye view of the side of our booth, in front of Minerama of France.

Another view of our booth behind the white wall, next to us on the right is The Collector's Edge booth, all in black.

There are some very, very good things about this first Changsha show and some that will definitely need a ‘rethinking’.  The exhibit hall is huge and the show covers two floors.  Fortunately, it is carpeted throughout the aisles (take note Tucson), the booth set-ups range from plain to ‘wow’.  On Day 1 there was no food service of any kind except for a small stand I found near the bathrooms with some drinks and suspicious looking hot dogs on a stick.  We were famished by the end of the day.

Around the show

Carpeted walkways with seating between booths

An elaborate booth

The inside of the booth

The downstairs hall is mostly minerals and fossils – upstairs is mostly gem and jewelry dealers.  

Iʼm not sure what the complaints might be but the spot is manned by four official looking guys.

The big complaint from all the dealers is ‘the deal’ and here it is:  the government will take their share of tariffs (which is some kind of sliding scale depending on your goods, but not explained), consumption tax and the bank will take 15% of your profits (you are supposed to hand over all your sales to them and they will then send you your money ‘sometime’, plus 3.5% of any credit card sales) – there is nearly ‘mutiny on the bounty’ from the various gem dealers who are ready to pull out and go home.  I understand where they are coming from.  Most of the profit will go on these many fees.  All of us are trying to confirm this information but we can’t seem to get a straight answer – hopefully I will have the straight answers by the end of the show.

Around the show

On Thursday night the committee invited all of the dealers and exhibitors to a grand banquet at the hotel  ballroom – lots of very interesting food with even more interesting translated names.  Jolyon Ralph of Mindat has an entire slide show of these names – tune into Mindat for a chuckle.

The buffet

Dona Leicht and Tobias Weise
Dona with Tobias Weise of German Mineral magazine Lapis

Lois Nelson, Bill Larson, Peter McGaw
Lois with Bill Larson of Pala International, Peter McGaw (Tucson TGMS show organiser) and his wife Allison

Lois Nelson and Mrs McGaw
Lois with Allison McGaw

Dona Leicht
Dona with Peter Larson of Black Hills Institute

Dona Leicht and Johannes Keilmann
Dona with Johannes Keilmann, organiser of the Munich Show

Dona Leicht and Joel Bartsch
Dona with Joel Bartsch, president and CEO of the Houston Museum of Natural Science

Beautifully decorated banquet table with guests

Dona Leicht with Miriam
My sweet friend Miriam from Nairobi

But enough of the grumbling. There are some fantastic things here and the  quality ranges from very low end to ‘boy, where did that come from’.  In the next few days I will try to photograph some of them.  The show committee has done a fabulous job of gathering dealers from just about every country.  The general consensus is that this is a new market not to be ignored.

Beautiful Mineral paintings

By the end of the first day we discovered where the actual market lies for specimens and in one word they like BIG.  I would venture to say that most of the production of Brazil is here and the mines in China are continuously spilling out extremely large specimens.

Huge Amethyst geodes on display


Day 2

One interesting twist is that dealers generally cannot enter the hall early – they wait outside with the public visitors until the show opens UNLESS you know the shortcuts into the building and then with an escort.

The pages of rules and regulations keep coming at us and enthusiasm for riding this wave into shore is waning.   Technically, if you make a sale you must walk over to the financial booth and it is concluded there with lots of note taking about the price, the tariff that will be charged, the taxes and fees.

The Hunan Chamber of Commerce

We have seen serious collectors here from Europe, the United States, Australia – mostly they have been buying Chinese specimens since these dealers won’t have to pay all of the fees that foreign dealers will pay and will have to add to the cost.

Around the show

Around the show

And a bright spot – Starbucks showed up on the scene, as well as MacDonalds and a noodle vendor – we won’t starve after all!

Not the Starbucks weʼre used to but I did discover the best green tea frappuccino for $5!!

An interesting take on MacDonalds - no facilities for cooking burgers so do they send a runner out to get them???

This was the day that Wayne gave his lecture, followed by Bryan Lees, Joel Bartsch and others - the room was filled and the lectures are broadcast simultaneously on a really giant screen in the exhibit hall.  Johannes Keilmann and I both did TV interviews  to be broadcast later in the day with the focus on gold and the upcoming 50th Munich show.

Wayne Leicht and Bryan Lees
Wayne with Bryan Lees of The Collector's Edge

Joel Bartsch
Joel Bartsch - president and CEO of the Houston Museum of Natural Science

Wayne Leicht
Wayne being broadcast on the giant screen in the main hall

The day was very slow – a moderate crowd, all armed with cameras.  Certainly the Collectors Edge booth is one of the most striking and they have the market nailed showcasing much larger specimens than we normally see at their booths in the states.  Andreas Guhr also has a beautiful display – he has always had the ‘eye’ for aesthetics in large specimens.  There are well over 1200 dealers at this show and I had no idea of the great number of Chinese dealers. 

The Collector's Edge booth
The Collector's Edge booth

A familiar face - German dealer Andreas Guhr in his booth with large specimens, takes a photo of me photographing him

A portion of the underground garage has been set up to display the private collection of the most prominent collector in China – all large specimens set up in one of the most interesting venues ever.

Chinese Calcite

Chinese Golds

A view of the private collection on display in the garage

Day 3 will see a mass of public visitors we’re told but we can’t see them rushing in to buy a rare collector specimen – perhaps we’ll be surprised.

Relaxing back at the hotel with other dealers

Since the hotel has no bar we have had to make our own - this requires numerous trips to Metro, a ʻcostcoʼ type store owned by a German company.

Lois Nelson and the baklava
Lois taking an interest in what looks like it could be a pizza but it is actually a sweet layered dough - a Chinese version of baklava?

Most times weʼre not entirely certain what we are eating but this stew was yummy.

Author: D
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