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Coin buyers might not care

The U.S. Mint will close its sales kiosk at Union Station in Washington, D.C., at the end of the month.

Rising rent and the changing nature of the people passing through the building were cited as reasons for taking this action.

This leaves just the sales kiosk at Mint headquarters, 801 9th Street N.W., as its sole sales point in the District of Columbia.

Losses as the kiosk left the Mint facing making a 5-year rental commitment at $180,000, or $1,500 a square foot each year for 120 square feet. This compares to $200 a square foot when it opened in 1991.

Besides the escalation in cash rents, there were signage restrictions, no opportunity to expand and other issues such as security, staffing and property management.

The Mint is now looking for a new site that would provide a more efficient retail space in the national capital region, said Tom Jurkowsky, the Mint’s public affairs director.

Perhaps the Mint should use this opportunity to review whether it should be retailing its products in its own space at all.

It is not in a position to run clearance sales and change the inventory mix at its discretion, two big handicaps in this day and age for retail marketing.

Perhaps with online retailing, the closure of physical sales locations is not a bad thing. Sales of many of the Mint’s meat and potatoes products have not been robust this year. In such a sales environment, reducing costs might be the best way forward.

Perhaps before committing to any other location in Washington, it should simply wait and see who might complain.  Collectors are not bashful. Congress isn’t either.

The surprise might be that few people will notice the closure or care.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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