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Coin Store Stories


mmarotta
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Will coin stores go the way of the horse and buggy? That might not be a bad thing. I mean, today, horses are for rich people -- or the Amish. So, if coin stores go away, the great masses of people zooming along the information superhighway will not know what they are missing, but a few of us will still enjoy a an afternoon of friendly buying and selling and talking.

 

Some people spend hours in a coin store. Some stores serve coffee to the regulars. A dealer will get something in and not do anything with it for a couple of weeks, just so he can let you make the first offer. "I thought of you, when this came in..."

 

The world has changed and many coins dealers are often old enough to remember Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, British East Africa, and French Indo-China. People come to coin collecting knowing only the Euro, having only heard dimly of francs, marks, pesetas, guilder or lira. If you were old enough to be drafted into World War II in 1945, you are almost 80 today... someone's great-grandfather... Occupation money and military payment scrip are artifacts of history. Americans have been buying Gold Eagles for 20 years. Who remembers when gold was something to be quiet about owning?

 

What's it worth?... The price is one thing, the grade is something else entirely. Every pricing guide assume a PROBLEM FREE coin... but how many collectors who shop electronically have ever seen such a thing... or 100 of them all at once, to have their pick of... to hold it, turn it in the light, examine it naked eye and then with a lens... to set two or three on the counter and side-by-side, decide which one is for you... People who only know sniping their way to pay the next higher increment miss the opportunity to pick a nice coin from a box of others just like it and have the dealer round down in their favor. Can you really get it cheaper somewhere else when you are comparing not prices, but traditions and cultures?

 

I have several public and college libraries in my community -- Ann Arbor: Big Ten U -- and none of them has the rack of books found behind the counter, or for sale, at a coin store. Anyone will sell you a coin. Only a dealer will tell you to buy the book before you buy the coin.

 

Nice as it is to come here to CoinPeople and exchange messages, how much nicer would it be to be sitting at the counter, looking at coins and have Rotten Rodney, Art or Dockwalliper walk in and come over to see what you're looking at? "Too bad you missed Tiffibunny," the dealer said, "She was just here with akdrv..." Of all the things "collected" at coin stores, collectors themselves are the most valuable. There is no substitute for friendship and fellowship.

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Most definately agree with the points here. But really, how can one preserve both traditions and cultures when basic economy comes first?

 

I have seen enough coin shops closing down in my life, and rarely do I ever hear a new one opening. In fact, actually I have NEVER seen a new coin shop opening. Down here in Sydney, it seems that the majority of the dealers here that are surviving actually do have some fairly expensive stuffs for consignment and auctions, which is likely the main reason why they are still existing.

 

An example this year is a dealer known as KJC, homepage http://www.kjc.com.au The place that they used to occupy was almost halved in size this year because of the increased inflation and difficulty in selling coins to the public. Now it just seems like a crammed place to go to, and isn't a great place for chit chat. The very moment when I saw the crammed store, it made me wonder if they will go broke soon or later. :ninja:

 

Smaller coin stores here almost dead, or probably selling other items at the same time, like militaries, swords, etc, but is not a great place to go to. I don't even see flea markets here that bother selling Aussie coins.

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... I have seen enough coin shops closing down in my life, and rarely do I ever hear a new one opening. ... Down here in Sydney ...  and isn't a great place for chit chat.

 

I am sorry to hear all of that. At the college where I work, they were cleaning out some old electronic gear, bakelite and wood, and the technician and I shared the olden days when hobbyists bought the parts for their kits at a local radio store, and belonged to the local Radio Relay club, and so on.

 

There are places I remember

All my life, though some have changed

Some forever not for better

Some have gone and some remain

All these places had their moments

With lovers and friends

I still can recall

Some are dead and some are living

In my life I've loved them all.

 

Hard to believe that in the year 2106, everyone will have DNA chips in their heads, and anything you want will be materialized by facsmile and people who enjoy beaming old coins will tell each other that in the good old days, you logged in to eBay and transfered money (actual money) via PayPal and a few days later, a package freight delivery company brought you the real, actual coin itself, not just a simulcrum.

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Two of the shops I go to have been around a long time. Both at least 30 years I have been going there. Another is a new comer. About 15 years. But I probably spend more time b.s.ing there then both the other shops combined. One of the old timers I doubt will be around for long. None of the kids seem like hiers appearent. Most questions even about what they have is answered by "I'll have to ask Dad." The daughter is the closest to picking up the trade.

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The only coin shop I shop at on a regular basis is a family owned one. The person who works the place the most is in his late 20's, maybe early 30's. Really helpful and full of knowledge, he really knows his stuff. Most of the time I go there and just search the 1/2 off buckets. They don't know me by name except by "hey we have a new shipment of 1/2 off world coins" or "specials on 2x2's this week".

 

They've offered to get me whatever coins I wanted but I've never taken them up on the offer...yet. The shop does carry its fair share of problem coins. Whether it being cleaned, holed, scratched, etc, they always mention it on the holder and adjust the price. Business has been booming for the shop as of late. Fair prices on buying/selling plus helpful staff. That shop won't be closing any time soon. Customer service is top notch.

 

Now the one big shop in Toledo.......don't get me started. I vowed to never return there and haven't since my experience with them. Stuck up just scratches the surface.

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Two of the shops I go to have been around a long time. Both at least 30 years I have been going there.

 

Kelly's in Lansing is the shop of Kelly Finger, the current MSNS President. It is one of the places where old timers hang out, though I was never one of them.

 

Another is Coins & Collectibles in Traverse City. At Coins and Collectibles in Traverse City, if you spend the day there, you are likely to see every member of the local coin club at least once. The owner, Dave Croad, is a good Christian and treats everyone with openness and respect. He only puts out the material that "everyone" wants, but, for me, he always seems to have "something special" in back. TC is a tough town to do business in, just because of its small size: only 55,000 in the entire county. Dave's nearest competitors are in Petoskey and Cadillac, 30 miles in either direction. There is another "coin store" in TC. but they mostly do jewelry and some bullion. I would never go there for US Type or whatever.

 

The other place where I did a lot of hanging out is Liberty Coin Service in Lansing. The store dates to 1971 when the first owner was Bill Bradford, the founder of Liberty Magazine who just passed away last December. After Bill made his money in the run-up to 1980, he sold the shop to the current owner, Pat Heller. Pat grew up in Chad because his father was in US-AID. He never heard of Elvis or the Beatles until he came to the University of Michigan. Pat led the drive to get retail sales tax taken off coins in Michigan. He is also active in many other community projects. His store employs a staff and they are all very knowledgeable. Paul Manderscheidt has been there since the mid-70s and he is often president of the Michigan Token and Medal Society. I have spent many hours in Liberty over the years, just looking at coins and listening to the talk when whoever or whoever comes in.

 

Hanging out at Liberty and asking questions, I learned what "Barbers" and "Hard Times Tokens" were. In fact, I bought a lot of stuff that I saw there for the first time... I got into Chinese (see thread) because I was standing there, talking to someone, playing with the junk box, and I saw a large 10-Cash dragon. Wow... they don't look like that in the book!... It was from Bill Bradford at Liberty Coins that I heard the story of "Levi Loomis and the Bank of Singapore. from Bill Bradford. A dozen years later, I went back and did all the resarch and wrote up the story for Michigan History, but they rejected it, so I sent it to Loompanics, who turned it into a four-page comic.

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i've been to two coin stores since moving to california in 1991 ... here in san francisco there's a coin store in the mission. it's large and roomy inside, but it's not a very inviting place: it's a ground-floor level retail store and the entire front of the store is covered in bars. the counter attendant has to buzz you in ... and he was not at all a chatty type ...

 

second coin store was in berkeley ... i found it by accident--i had some time to burn while waiting for a bus. that shop was much smaller, but the guy was much friendlier ... unfortunately he had limited hours (at times i couldn't ordinarily visit) ...

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The local coin shop here has been in biz for 50 yrs, they have a nice selection of coins notes and coin books, I buy regularly from them , usually i buy the 10 cent coins or the 50 cent notes, Sometimes i'll look though their whole stock of both notes and coins, The owner and his parnters are very friendly and know what they are doing, People come in to have them look over all types of coins and notes

 

They look over the notes and coins for free then if the person wants to sell they will give them fair market value of their coins and notes

 

This shop is well known they don't do a booming biz but enough to keep them happy

 

I like the shop cause they take things easy, honest and trustworthy they take the time to know what their customers want and need by talking with them person to person

 

The shop is small they sell raw coins and notes or graded coins, prices are very reasonable, some coins are priced below market value, they don't update their prices very much, the owner showed me the gold buffalo Coins cause i had never seen one in person then he asked my honest opinion on the gold buffalo coins

 

Funny thing is if the owner is there and him and his partners see me they know what i'm after, they will tell me if they have some new coins in the half off or the 10 cent box, they ask about rina and how we are doing, they are friendly to everyone who visits their shop and they have a coin show every year in December which they help fund and set up

 

if they don't have a coin they will try and find it for you, if they can't find that coin they will offer another one of the same grade and value as the coin you want

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The coin stores in the Richmond, Va area have an older crew working them and I've always wondered how the store will be handed down to the next generation if I don't see younger people working them. I keep meaning to go in more often, make myself known as a serious, trusted youngin' and eventually offer some help when I'm home for summer and winter breaks.

 

Back at school in Chicago, I plan to drop by a local coin shop there, check it out and tell them that I'm looking for a job. Probably the only thing that could force me out of bed early on a Saturday morning would be a visit to a coin shop. And if it were my job, wow... i'd be in heaven.

 

So, hopefully come October I'll be spending a few good hours each week tending to the inventory, helping out with the busy work, and climbing the ladder so one day I'll be able to have the healthy choice of pursuing engineering or having a coin shop. :lol:

 

Maybe I'll just do really well in school and the first few years out so I can have a coin shop on the side :ninja:

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  • 2 weeks later...

I go to two coin shops in my area, there are a total of 5 I think, one I vowed to never enter again. (I'm not the only one either) Imagine someone saying they don't have time for you if you are just going to sit and look at thier cheaper non-US coins, some nerve eh?

 

Anyway, I go to a tiny one room coin shop 5 minutes from my place about once a week. He is only open 3 days and does it because he is retired and bored, he makes maybe 5-10 dollars on bigger valued items, and I've gotten many MANY coins from him at what he payed or for 0.50$ over what he paid. It's nice to pay less than graysheet bid on a regular basis! I've been going there since I was about 9, so 14 years. I will sit and talk with him for 1-2 hours, basically until the meter runs out nearly every time I'm there, and in all my years I've not gotten tired of hearing those "old timer" stories of his. Imagine buying a Xf-Au 1856 flying eagle cent for under $300 or a 1793 chain cent for in Vg+ for under $800! Or, this is one that got me, "Eh, I've owned 2 1794 silver dollars in my life, I haven't seen one in 20 years though." Holy crap right?! :ninja:

 

The other shop is a big time dealers son from the next county over, a nice guy, maybe in his 30's, but their inventory isn't too great and the prices are a still a little steep, but still better than eBay.

 

I do use eBay, and Heritage coins, but I prefer the old timers shop more than any other place.

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No coin shops here, but working this year in the center of Munich, my construction site was encountered by two coinshops, one for coins and one for notes and postcards located ito Southern and Eastern sides of central railway station. But there were expensive places for my budget, so I've found a very small store 100 meters away, at the groundfloor of Elisenhof Palace, owned by a German -Romanian Herr Franz Lindner. I've spent there many of my free hours and he helped my to obtain the rare Funk catalogue of notmunzen. It is nice to go in another country and to speak about coins in your own language!

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We have three coin shops in my hometown, but only one of them is worth looking at because he is the most established and has the best inventory.

 

I thoroughly enjoy shopping at his store because he's knowledgeable and friendly and I almost always get a discount on the items I buy from him. I trust him.

 

I just LOVE our two annual coin shows because I get to see thousands of nice coins and chat with dozens of friendly dealers from all over the country.

 

It is much more enjoyable, IMHO, to hold the coins in hand, look at them with my loupe, talk to the dealer about the coin, and buy it at the show or the shop than it is to look at the usually poor quality or "enhanced" photos on eBilge or other such sites which are filled with con-artists and other slimeballs. I will buy off of eBilge on occasion, but ONLY if I know the seller from someplace else like this forum.

 

I doubt that the "brick and mortar" coin shops will disappear entirely. Only the ones who are not as knowledgeable or don't have the inventory required to attract several kinds of collectors will vanish.

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Michael, I would love that type of comradarie from my local coin shop, we have only one in Indian River County, but my first dealings with the guy was awful. First he has this GIANT dog pacing back & forth behind the counter, and then he prominently displys his 44 tucked into his waistband. the whole atmosphere was very unwelcoming.

I know there are security issues in this industry, but...

 

Anyway what really torqued my lugs, was him lowballing me on a offer to sell my 1879-CC Morgan graded accurately IMHO by ANACS at VF35.

 

If I can recall, he offered me $100 for it after flipping thru the greysheet. This was a year and half ago. Knowing that was a crap offer on a semi-key date and very nice coin, I put it on ebay and it hammered at just under $400.

 

He saw that i worked at a bank and gave me a bunch of business cards to give to customers looking to cash in thier old coins.

 

I'm still picking my teeth with those cards.

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The coin stores in the Richmond, Va area have an older crew working them and I've always wondered how the store will be handed down to the next generation if I don't see younger people working them.

 

Yes, I'm in the Richmond area too. The only store I found inviting was the old Modern Coin in the little Art Deco building on Grace St. downtown. I've stopped going there because the owner, a real *, has returned from Las Vegas and hovers over the place. It has been managed by a guy in his 50s named Paul for several years. Paul is a very knowledgeable coin dealer and is a decent fellow, and was always the resident dealer while the owner lived in Vegas practicing his bullshit arts.

 

Now that the owner has moved back and is always there, the people willing to sell coins to them has dropped drastically because the owner is a cold hearted chiseler who is so obviously trying to rip off sellers that even an idiot with his deceased daddy's collection to sell is scared away.

 

There was always a crowd of coin collectors and collectors of everything else as well, hanging out there because Paul had such a huge circle of collectors who bought everything imaginable that he had the reputation of being ready to buy anything collectible besides sports cards.

 

Now, you could throw a bank teller's dye bomb in there and stain only the owner and the two hapless employees. Anyway, I've lost the only coin shop worthy of the name and have nowhere to hang out and learn.

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Short report on situation in Riga; Latvia

There are no specialized coin shops at all. Coins are sold in antiquity shops. In the old town prices mostly are incredibly high. But outside of downtown there are some places worth to observe. Since antiquity shops are not specialists in coins, you can find even US$ 50.- worth coin for 10 santims (About US$0.15). That's from my expierance. The situation in Vilnius (Lithuania) and Tallinn (Estonia) is approximately the same.

But there's collecionists fair takes a place every month. And there you can find very interesting things for average price. Not coins only. There are stamps, postcards etc. This situation is typical for E and NE Europe.

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