The Michigan State Numismatic Society held its Fall Convention Thanksgiving weekend at the first new location in more than 30 years. The previous site in Detroit suburb of Dearborn was in a hotel connected to one of the top 10 shopping centers in the U.S. during the mid-1970s.
Unfortunately, the succeeding years have not been that kind to the area, in the middle of automotive factories. While the shopping center still exists, it has gone downhill. The hotel that hosted the MSNS went into bankruptcy within the past year and the management company pulled its name off that location.
The new location in Warren, Mich., (four miles north of Detroit) was in a spacious sports and exhibition building on the campus of Macomb County Community College. The entire bourse floor was hosted in a single room, where the former location took two rooms at opposite ends of a hallway.
This year’s site cost less to rent, so MSNS purchased more advertising for the show. Whether it was the sudden uptick in gold and silver prices in the middle of the prior week, the increased advertising, or the new location, or some combination thereof, attendance this year was more than 50 percent higher on opening Friday than it was for the same day at last year’s show.
The action continued all weekend. The staff working at my company’s booth were not able to leave on Sunday for two hours beyond the usual departure time – there were just too many retail customers making purchases.
Most of the dealers told me that they had an exceptionally strong show. One paper money dealer, though, told us that the show was a disappointment for him, though this was typical of shows for him lately. He lamented that he could have made more sales staying home to list items on eBay.
Some out-of-state dealers, anticipating that the show would be a dud at a new location after being in the same facility for so many decades, left on Saturday much earlier than they did in years past. Unfortunately for them, they missed out on the best MSNS show in many years.
MSNS officers and directors were polling the dealers and public on whether they preferred the new location or a possible return to the former site. A disadvantage for non-local dealers is that there are no nearby motels or hotels and the distance from the airport is more than double that compared to the old spot. But, when you can do more business, dealers will put up with such inconveniences.
I visited the show only on Saturday to give an educational program and deliver a committee report to the MSNS. As I arrived, my reaction was neutral between places I would prefer for next year’s show. By the time I left, I had decided to recommend the new Warren venue for next November.
Now, if only MSNS could be persuaded to change the dates of the show away from Thanksgiving weekend.
Patrick A. Heller is the American Numismatic Association 2012 Harry Forman Numismatic Dealer of the Year Award winner. He owns Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Michigan and writes Liberty’s Outlook, a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects.