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Setting up as a Dealer at Shows


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This was not my first show, but it was my first in many years. I started collecting in 1992. In 1993, I joined a local club and in 1994, I set up at a club show. I made a few more since, but not very often. It is a lot of work. Every collector should try it, just to see what it is like. eBay is some reflection, but there is nothing like the reality of an in-person, live on the spot bourse floor presence where you meet and greet honest to goodness humans.


Work has been slim this past two years, and I already unloaded my collection many times. (The first time was when I quit collecting ten years ago. I kept a few things.... and since then, to write articles, I acquire one of these and two of those... Now I have a bunch again.) I am to the point where to get anywhere near my price, I have to go direct to the collector.


I set up with many books, a few ancients and some medals, a stack of better foreign paper, and a smattering of US Type. Fortunately, no one bought any US Type: I forgot my Red Books.


I sold a little of everything, covered the table fee and did about a day's wages all in all.


The big thing was pricing everything between what I wanted for it and I what I knew would sell without question. As it is, writing for the MSNS website, I make a few shows every now and then, so I had an idea what ranges were like. No one counter-offered: which means, of course, that I was too low, darn it.


The best part of the table fee -- and something for "just a collector" to consider -- is that for a nominal price you get someplace to sit down through the whole show and you have an immediate presence with the dealers, if you want to buy.

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Something I'd never, even attempt to do. Being on the rather not to healthy side I'd first of all think of how many times I'd have to go to the washroom. Then sitting there all day long and putting up with morons, idiots, jerks, etc. would really put my temper to a test. Having to bring books, show cases, Albums, etc. of coins in only to have to carry them all back out too would make me wonder why, why, why. I go to about 2 to 4 coin shows a Month and as a customer. I've seen and heard some people say and do things that as a dealer I would consider some nasty things I'd like to do to them.

At several coin shows there is one dealer that usually has 3 tables full of coin cases, books of those plastic pages for 20 2x2's, slabbed coins, etc. Those coin shows usually start at 9AM. He starts setting up about 8AM and is still setting up at about 10AM. Naturally he has to constantly stop to deal with a possible customer though. He does have a hired helper but unless he makes a small fortune, that is for sure no life for me.

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Thanks for sharing your experience! How large was this show?


Relatively small, being outside Ann Arbor, which is outside Metro Detroit. This is one of many "suburban" shows that cater to locals. We had about 12-15 dealers and maybe 100 visitors. I did the show because it was close to home. I went there half a dozen times in the last year as a customer and I wrote it up for the MSNS Website. So, I knew the venue pretty much, and had an idea what to bring, and what to charge.


Something I'd never, even attempt to do. ... He starts setting up about 8AM and is still setting up at about 10AM. ... that is for sure no life for me.


You have the insight and awareness to realize that. I think that every collector ought to try it once, though, admittedly, the ones who need to are the ones who do not.


Coin collectors do tend to be loners, by nature. Many are not. There are gregarious people in the hobby, and not surrprisingly, they tend to be or become dealers. I've done this before, so I had no expectations. I brought a book to read, rose to greet each customer who stopped, smiled a lot, and just waited ... a lot... all day... (Finished the book, too.)

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I am always fascinated by the number of shows available in larger cities and outlying suburbs available in the US for various hobbies / pasttimes etc.


Vancouver's got 1-2m population in the metro area and we just have two "larger" (30-40 tables by Canadian standards is a large coin show) shows. We previously had two other smaller events but they seem to have died out.


Even with antique / collectibles shows there isn't much. (And there aren't a lot of stores either - regretfully most collectibles dealers and collectors sell their stuff online instead)

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Vancouver's got 1-2m population in the metro area and we just have two "larger" (30-40 tables by Canadian standards is a large coin show) shows. We previously had two other smaller events but they seem to have died out.

I second ccg's thoughts. In Edmonton (~1M pop including suburbs) we have 2-3 coin shows a year. Usually around 30 tables as well.


A number of things: Canada has 30 millions to our 300. There are other cultural factors that make the American experience of hobby stand out. I live in Michigan and the ANA was founded by Dr. George Heath of Monroe. We have 30 local clubs in the state, 13 of them in Metro Detroit. So, that is a bit anamolous. I could (and perhaps should) set up up somewhere in that radius once or twice a weekend.


Finally, fewer shows should mean that you spend your time reading books and saving your money for serious purchases. I recommend it: make an ANA convention every couple of years; stay in the hotel; be there three days; the savings on the bourse floor and auction room will pay for the travel.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just Carl does make me appreciate all that the coin dealers go through. Thats a stressful day/life to hopefully break even.

Where I live there are at least 4 coin shows a Month, every Month, all year long. I try to go to 2 or 3 of them every Month. And usually the customers and dealers are basically normal, everyday individuals. Unfortunately the more shows and the larger they are the more of other types of people arrive.

People standing in front of a dealer's table yaking about thier garden or whatever so the dealer looses buisness. Idiots with back packs bumping everyone in every aisle. Idiots with coffee or pop standing over a dealers table and spelling some. Poor lighting, lousy air circulation, lack of chairs to sit in also make some shows not worth going to.

I usually go to a coin show early and get out early just to miss most of all that. I could never, ever try to become a coin dealer at a coin show or I'd start thinking of what weapon to bring along.

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