Saturday, September 29, 2007

September 29 -- Jewels at the Grand Canyon

I had wanted to visit the Cameron Trading Post ever since I saw a Sunshine Reeves canteen for $5950 on their website. A few months ago I put up an award winning canteen by Gary Reeves for $3350. It sold quickly to a collector as an investment piece. I've said before that one mark of a master silversmith is the ability to make quality canteens. Harry Morgan was an old master, the Reeves brothers are younger masters. I've been curious about the difference in pricing -the Cameron Trading Post vs. mine; so today I did an on-sight price survey, my best estimate is that the difference in pricing is simply a matter of store market-up as I commonly observe. Price surveying is a challenge because the prices are typically hidden and I don't like to get the sales people involved if I have no intention of making a purchase.

From Cameron, Arizona, it's a short drive into the Grand Canyon National Park. Normally it's $25 per car, but today just happened to be free admission. The Grand Canyon is simply amazing. It is a shame for any US citizen to miss it during a lifetime. While in the area around the little village of Tusayan just a little past the south entrance to the park, I also checked out the Grand Canyon Trading Post. There were a few token items of Native American jewelry, but their holdings consist mostly of cheap tourist fodder. I bought a comfortable a little jacket there because the wind was wicked and cold.

A highlight of the day was my elegant dinner at sunset with my wife Sandy at the El Tovar Hotel on the canyon rim. The El Tovar, soaking rich in history, has hosted the rich and famous throughout it's over 100 year history. Dinner tonight was nearly perfect except for the notable absence of background music. I thought it would be a little over the top to pull out my ipod, instead I imaged setting the clock back 1/2 century to the post WWII period complete with soldiers fresh back from war time duty, young and smiling, with the walls of the place bouncing in vibrations to the rhythmic beats and trombone accents of big band sounds of that era. My imagination served me well, but the upscale dinner did not make my day nearly as much as my opportunity to review the Native American jewelry showcases in the lobby of the El Tovar. I watched in spellbound fascination as droves of foreign visitors looked in on the fascinating displays of our Native American jewelry heritage. I was tempted to pass out my own card with web reference just to encourage them to continue their viewing pleasure through the miracle of cyberspace.

Fred Harvey has been selling jewelry at the El Tovar since they opened in 1905. I believe that the El Tovar's modest holdings make an excellent collection to review for maketing strategy ideas. I discovered that they had about 30% of their stock in traditional old style jewelry and the rest contemporary. Markup was considerable. What stuck me was their single shelf of gold jewelry. I sold my last 14k piece last week, and I'm now convinced that I need to acquire a few small gold pieces for my own shelves.

I would love to wander back through the Hopi reservation tomorrow, but it will be Sunday and there will likely be little in the way of jewelry to see. So, that trip will have to wait for another day.

If you ever have a chance to dine at the famous El Tovar Hotel, be sure to wear your best Native American Jewelry. It will be noticed and it is always in style.