$16.98

Blame it on my mother, who spent her teens and early 20s in the Great Depression, and then managed a family of six on a blue-collar guy’s wages: I grew up well-schooled in the notions of value.

In other words, I can be cheap. Very cheap.

Sometimes, the price of every little thing gets too steep and reduces the value of the sum of the experience. That’s where the headline comes in, as it sums up my feeling about a place that’s becoming the U.S. stone-show capital: Las Vegas.

200_LVbreakfast
Click to enlarge

The sum quoted at the top bought breakfast for two at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand within the Luxor Hotel during StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas last month. And, for that, the serving tray groaned with:

• 2 bagels with a small serving of cream cheese;
• 2 small bottles of juice;
• 1 “regular” coffee.

The serving area – the upstairs food court – offered a dark corner of the pyramid, where at least we weren’t charged for the privilege of seating. (I suppose that the birds flying around the indoor area to snatch up any stray morsels could be considered entertainment thrown in for free.) Since this was self-service, we didn’t need to leave a tip, so we “got away” with a bagel, some juice and a bit of coffee for $8.50 each.

I’m not complaining because I’m cheap. I’m sounding off because this is indicative of why, when it comes to shows for the stone trade, Vegas is a place that’s worn out its usefulness.

Unfortunately, when it comes to exhibitions, Las Vegas is one of the most-convenient places for organization and production. Convention centers and hotel ballrooms can accommodate any size of event, with a nice hotel attached. Major companies specializing in decoration – the term for setting up the booths, carpets and services needed for a show – have major operations in Las Vegas.

As someone attending a show, however, Las Vegas doesn’t have a lot to offer, unless you revel in consuming overpriced food and drink and staying in hotels that are quickly becoming shopworn. Nearly every major U.S. metropolitan area has casino gambling – formerly an exclusive draw for Vegas –  within a two-hour drive. High-class entertainment is pretty much down to gilded gymnastics galas and attitude-driven magicians who easily make two Franklins disappear for an 85-minute show.

Yeah, I can hear the basic answer of, “It’s Vegas, baby! Suck it up!” So here’s the response: You paying your own ticket, buddy? Or is somebody else sucking up that expense account?