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Coin dealer rant


Blackhawk
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We've got four coin dealers in the town that I live in. Dealer may be overstated, as most just buy cheap and resell wholesale to a big coin clearinghouse type dealer about 60 miles away. I did a bit of business a few years ago with one, but our relationship ended when I took a toned Morgan dollar in to show him and looked up from looking through his cases to see that he had removed my coin from it's Airtite and was busily rubbing his thumb on the obverse to remove the toning. A real jackass.

 

The second guy keeps very little stock and usually has one of his twenty-something son's running the shop while he works his regular job. The problem with this, of course, is that his sons cannot sell anything without checking with daddy. I was also soured when I saw him buying a bunch of AU/BU pre 1900 coins for maybe 5% of their value from an old couple.

 

The third shop has just started and is another buy and wholesale shop, although he has quite a bit of stock, owned by the way by the just that thumbed my Morgan dollar. I don't do much business there.

 

Which brings me to the last dealer and my current reason to be POed. The fourth dealer has a shop not far from my house and has been open about 1½ years. From the beginning, I frequented the shop and although many times his prices on supplies are higher than I could get them for on the internet, buy them there. He buys coins, jewelry and antiques from people and along with wholesaling a lot of the coins and gold that he gets in (to the guy 60 miles away), does more real coin business than the other three dealers. I have tried to cultivate a decent relationship with the guy and at first, he seemed pretty customer oriented. He gave me some decent deals, and when he needed coins for his want lists, many times I would seel to him at a lot less than what I could get on Ebay or auction because I felt that he had to make some profit to stay open. I told him from the beginning that I did not like to dicker, so I'd buy if he could give me his best deal right away...this worked for a while. Lately, I don't know if he's doing better in his shop or what, but he's gotten greedy and all transactions seem to be tainted by it. I sold him a complete set of walkers for hundreds less than another offer that I received because I felt he understood that I expected some deals in the future. I watched him figure the price of each coin from his grey sheet, being careful to undergrade and then writing down a price about 20% less than bid. He then added them up and asked how much I had to have for the set. When I asked him what he came up with he told me a figure, which was less than all the values that he had written combined...then he said that he wanted to pay 10% less than that. Here's what I got in return...

 

I stop in his shop just about every day to gab with the regulars and he got two pocket watches in. He asked me if I wanted to buy them and when I asked the price he told me that he's have to look into it and let me know. Apparently he sold them to someone else during the time that he was holding them for me...LOL.

 

Lately he's been prone to tell regular customers about some deal he made that resulted in him paying pennies on the dollar to some poor sap, then selling the goods for a huge profit. The straw that broke the camels back happened yesterday morning. A couple came in with a plastic bag. The bag contained some neat stuff...a Fuechtwanger cent, Some neat tokens, some foreign (both common and better) and some better US stuff. He asked the guy how much he needed for the coins before he said anything else and the guy said that the shop owner should figure it out and make an offer. He proceeded to cull out the common foreign, which was about three quarters of the bag and told the guy that they weren't worth much and that he sells stuff like that by the pound (outright lie #1). He then went through the other stuff, marking on a paper what he came up with for each coin or token. He wrote down $30.00 for the XF Fuechtwanger cent...LOL. All the values that he wrote down were about 25% of retail, and then he threw some into the pile without marking down any price (one of which was an AU/BU 1884 Indian cent). When he was done, he took the sheet to his calculator and started adding them up. Now he wrote down the numbers in plain sight and it was easy to see what they were and add them in your head, which is what the customer was doing. When the dealer got part way through the list, he turned around like he was done and told the guy that it was just over $200.00, at which the customer asked how much exactly, which forced him to add again. He came back with an amount of $225.00...which was less than the total of what he wrote down. The customer asked him if he could sleep at night, after which he went through a story about how many of the coins were in poor condition and that he could only sell them for 20-25% more than he was paying. The best part was that he told the customer to ask me...I was supposed to verify that the dealer was a good guy and paying top dollar...I didn't say anything. They finally agreed on $235.00 and the customer left.

 

I looked through the stuff that he had bought...he paid the guy $4.00 for a nice 2¢ piece...LOL. Anyway, I seperated out the things that I was interested in...the bag of low value base metal foreign coins (you know, the stuff that he sells by the pound), a couple Canadian 5¢ silver coins that he paid $1.00 each for and 4 VF or so Civil War tokens...I didn't want any of the better stuff. I asked him what he wanted for the stuff that I pulled out, at which point he replied that he would have to go through it all and get back to me. Now he just looked the stuff up to buy it. He just couldn't look it over (all low value stuff) and shoot me a price...after all our dealing, I probably spend $5000-8000 yr. at his shop, he has to look up each coin to sell to me after asking me to verify that he only makes 25% profit? I told him that I wouldn't be able to come back for the stuff as I was having knee surgery on Tuesday, at which point he said that he was sure that I'd be shuffling around in no time and could come back to see what his total was.

 

That's it...what an A-hole. Not only is the guy taking advantage of others, but he has grown so important that he cannot take care of his regular customers. I walked out of his shop, wrote him an E-mail explaining why I wouldn't be back and have washed my hands of the whole affair. When a dealer becomes so confident and arrogant that he believes people will only buy from him, it's time to move on. I'm looking at getting a tax number when I recuperate and will look into buying estate coins, jewelry, militaria, etc. myself.

 

The best part of the whole affair is that the dealer in question always has his shop radio tuned to.....Christian radio. :ninja:

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I'm sorry to hear of you're misfortune Blackhawk. It is amazing that you could be standing right there watching this and listening to this guy take advantage of unknowing people and then turn right around and have the same guy try to cheat you the same way. I have three dealers here in my town. One of the three I dumped the same way. This guy has two small display cases and a huge office with coins and stuff lying everywhere. When you walk in the door his standard response is always "What do you want?" I visited this guy twice, second time only to give him the benifit of doubt, ie. maybe it was a bad day for him or something else the first visit. The second visit was the same. So I just stick to the other two guys who are great to me.

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It isn't Indianapolis is it?? LOL! there are only about 4 shops here in town where there used to be 20-30.... Some of those practices I can understand....like for instance the $2c peices....if they are AG's or have problems (bent ,heavily coroded, cut, holed, ext.) $4 is a fair price....as a general rule I try my best to pay %85-90 of bid for stuff because I wholesale a lot of my stuff right at bid....and I do need to keep the lights on...just my 2 cents (nice pun huh?) from this side of the counter

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I feel for you Blackhawk. Finding a good dealer is a challenge in the best of markets. Here in my area I only know of one coin shop, I'm sure there are others, but I have been to none of them as I fear most are just filled with cheap coins that won't interest me. Fortunately for me, there are monthly coin shows over in South Bend, about a half hour drive away so every month, all the local dealers plus several from the Chicago and Detroit areas come down, and it's amazing what happens when you get a bunch of dealers in a big room all forced to compete for your money. To me, this is much better since I can look and find the things I want and work the dealers against each other if necessary. Still, I don't buy very many coins compared to what I could (plus, collecting Saints almost requires me to buy at the larger national auctions unless I really needed a low MS 1924 or 1928).

 

Another trick I learned when I was living in Portland was to develop a relationship with a dealer based on mutual needs. There was a dealer there that I must admit I didn't care for at first (he was probably having a bad day). Later though, we developed a very good business relationship since he offered me coins, but I didn't offer coins in return (what did he need my coins for when everyone comes in each day with coins for him). But what I could give him was solid investment advice given my profession as an equity analyst. By the time I left Portland, I was researching stocks just for him, and he was giving me great deals on coins. I know not everyone has skills like that which can be "bartered" in such a relationship, but perhaps if you can find a common interest where you bring more to the table than he does, such a relationship can develop. By the way, a mutually beneficial relationship is irrelevant if either party is by nature dishonest.

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LostDutchman,

 

I fully understand that a brick and mortar coin dealer has overhead. In most cases I would actually say that even 25 - 30% back of bid for coins that you will have to hang on to for a while would be fair. The problem lies in cutting the seller three ways before he gets paid and then turning around and selling at full retail prices. I've got no problem in any pricing structure that a dealer may have i.e., buy at 50% of redbook and sell at 75% of redbook or whatever. I do have a problem with dealers using the grey sheet, redbook, and trends interchangeably so that they can buy at 30% of what they are going to sell for. That's just my opinion though and others may disagree.

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I agree, I use greysheet and nothing but the greysheet.....and if I have a customer looking for a specefic coin I will even buy them at a coin show, even if I only make a few bucks....I reccomend the bluebook for customers that gives them a good idea of what to expect...as it is a lot closer then the red book....

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I feel for you Blackhawk. Before I moved I had access to one coin shop that was run by people who knew next to nothing about coins except that the state quarters are "hot items" and some 20-25 year old kid who thinks his crap doesn't stink. I had asked to look at a MS64 Morgan that was in a locked case. He told me to wait a minute he is doing something VERY important. What does he do? He goes to the foreign coin bin and sits there looking through it. Fine, don't want to help a customer who had money in hand ready to buy a coin, I'll take my business someplace else (here). Don't even bother asking questions there. Your answer will always be "let me get back to you".

 

I realize I'm only 20 and not an expert at coins but geez, at least help the customer and say hello or something.

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when I was a kid there was a coin shop here in a local shopping mall.....I was about 8 at the time....and my dad took me over there, I think I wanted a 2 or 3 cent peice or something.....but I ran ahead of him and went into the shop...and the lady running the shop promptly threw me out for being a kid in a coin shop......I bet she feels stupid now that I am running the only other REAL coin shop in town....we are friends...they are still kinda jerks...I welcome kids and usually give them free stuff...but that is one of those memories I will never forget....

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I hate to say it, having been a small time, amateur dealer myself for awhile, but...:

 

Right now, all but one of the dealers I know who have walk in shops are untrustworthy *'s. If you wonder what I mean by *, look at the symbol closely and think for a minute on what it resembles.

 

I've heard it said that you can't be a collector and a dealer at the same time and that may well be true. I do believe though that you have to really like numismatics and have a real passion for enjoying the business of buying, trading and selling coins to maintain a reasonably decent personality as a dealer.

 

Seems to me that a person who loves the hobby and is committed to learning and who enjoys sharing knowledge will be an easier person to deal with than someone who has become obsessed with making a business pay. It's a tough thing to keep up with all the obligations of business and still keep in sight the basic rule that retail business is about service. Not everyone who makes a living in retail manages to do that.

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I feel for you Blackhawk. Before I moved I had access to one coin shop that was run by people who knew next to nothing about coins except that the state quarters are "hot items" and some 20-25 year old kid who thinks his crap doesn't stink. I had asked to look at a MS64 Morgan that was in a locked case. He told me to wait a minute he is doing something VERY important. What does he do? He goes to the foreign coin bin and sits there looking through it. Fine, don't want to help a customer who had money in hand ready to buy a coin, I'll take my business someplace else (here). Don't even bother asking questions there. Your answer will always be "let me get back to you".

 

I realize I'm only 20 and not an expert at coins but geez, at least help the customer and say hello or something.

 

Well, what would you expect from a young shop-keep. BTW, IMO a coin shop should never be run by anyone under 30. Most younger people lack the skills to deal with the multitude of scenarios that could arise, from simply dealing with a customer, to making a purchase, or perhaps deal with someone pocketing.

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Well his job is to sell coins. Not a difficult concept or anything. Heaven forbid I take away 10 minutes of his time to do his job. Wish I could have done that when I managed a drive-thru this summer. "Could you wait on that order? I'm reading the paper."

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ccq you are free to form your own oppinions...I am 22 and run a coin shop...I have been working retail for the last 6 years...and understand customer service and try to have great conversation with anyone who is willing... I have been hanging out in coin shops for hours and hours since I was 10...I was lucky to be brought up right and I understand that honesty is a virtue. I have also delt with someone trying to steal coins from my shop. If you ever make it to Indianapolis I would love to have you in my shop. I am the baby in town and I have heard it all from "your just a kid what do you know??" to "hey there is that kid that runs that coin shop"

 

it's sad that people in my age group are immature. it's also kinda sad how a few bad apples that are jaded are giving ALL of us a bad name...I ask you to consider this.

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it's sad that people in my age group are typecast as immature without even giving us a chance. it's also kinda sad how a few bad apples that are jaded are giving ALL of us a bad name...I ask you to consider this.

 

No crap. From 8-13 I ran my grandfather's candle booth at many major craft shows. Brought in LOTS of money and dealt with hundred's of customers daily. The last two years I managed THE ice cream shop in the area. Pretty sad when people asked for the manager and I came to the window. :ninja: Their jaws hit the ground most of the time.

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to be clear i'm not trying to start any arguements here I have met delaers who were 35 and 40 who I wonder how they stay open with the attitudes they have. I get looks all the time from older customers who walk in and expect to see an older gentleman, And I have several older men who are now regulars after getting to know me some who have been collecting since the 50's. (it's really neat to hear about what you could buy for $50 in the 50's and 60's)

 

basically what I am trying to say is....if you see a young guy in a shop don't rule them out before you get to know them.......and after you get to know them they don't make a good impression on you....then form your own oppinions...

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ccq you are free to form your own oppinions...I am 22 and run a coin shop...I have been working retail for the last 6 years...and understand customer service and try to have great conversation with anyone who is willing... I have been hanging out in coin shops for hours and hours since I was 10...I was lucky to be brought up right and I understand that honesty is a virtue. I have also delt with someone trying to steal coins from my shop. If you ever make it to Indianapolis I would love to have you in my shop. I am the baby in town and I have heard it all from "your just a kid what do you know??" to "hey there is that kid that runs that coin shop"

 

it's sad that people in my age group are immature. it's also kinda sad how a few bad apples that are jaded are giving ALL of us a bad name...I ask you to consider this.

 

When I said "Most younger people lack the skills to deal with the multitude of scenarios that could arise, from simply dealing with a customer, to making a purchase, or perhaps deal with someone pocketing." I was referring to dealers who throw in their know-nothing video-game playing children to shop-watch, for whom I hold little regard for.

 

Now someone who has grown up in the environment, and has an interest in coins, that's something else altogether: :ninja:

 

"IMO a coin shop should never be run by anyone under 30." I now retract this statement, seeing that there are people with the skills and experience.

 

BTW, I'm a bit younger than you myself. So it's not a case of older guy thinking that kids are useless ;)

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and if I seemed a little short I'm sorry.....It's just been a hectic day here....I went to a coin show this morning and was asked at least 10 times "so your the kid running the coin shop huh?"

 

(a little history the shop I run has been around since 1985 the former owner has retired. after my incident with another shop here in town that is earlier in this post, I decided to find another coin shop to take my business to. I ran across this shop. The owner was a great guy who raised 5 children and loves kids. He would let me hang out there for as long as I wanted and I even got to help. When he retired I received a phone call from him asking if I would like to run the shop. This was my dream so I quickly said yes. The deal with the prospective purchaser fell through and my parents were looking for an investment at the time and decided to go ahead and purchase the shop. I hung out with him for a few months to learn the ropes and the parts of the business that I hadn't see before. Then I was on my own. That was May 1st of this year.)

 

so I'm the new kid in a town full of Dinosaurs.

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i don't know what to think about local coin dealers. i've only actually seen two "shops" ... one that seemed to sell only bullion items to tourists, and one who has a shop in the mission district ... the shop itself is behind bars and the door is locked during business hours--once inside it was clear why the door was locked and the front was covered with bars: he clearly didn't want to deal with people.

 

honestly, i do better buying online. there are risks, but those can be managed.

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For me safety has to be #1 I'm not in the best of neighborhoods. I carry a 9mm pistol on my hip and have a shotgun in the store. There have been several incidents here in the last few years but that was mostly from dealing with the wrong people. I mostly sell US coins as this is my field of knowledge but have recently been dabbling in foreign coins.

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