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New and old make strong sales mix

I had a meeting with the managing director of the South African Mint, Tumi Tsehlo.

We talked about the coming launch later this month of the new silver Krugerrand in the United States.

It has been 50 years since the one-ounce gold coin was invented by South Africa. To celebrate the anniversary, a one-ounce silver versions will be introduced. It is expected to sell well.

But as interesting as this topic was, I find that I was more smitten by another item that was mentioned.

I am always looking for something new under the sun. Seldom do I find it.

But South Africa is trying what it calls pop-up shops.

They find a mall and set up a store front for a weekend to sell the mint's products.

Now there is nothing new about a mint having a shop. But shops I am familiar with are permanent fixed locations.

A pop-up shop moves about. It appears. Then it is gone.

Customers who regularly go to the mall see something different.

Tumi said they a finding a new set of customers for South Africa's coins at these pop-up operations. He specifically mentioned housewives and students.

It is easy to see the novelty of the idea.

It is easy to believe that new customers might be attracted by such shops.

What remains to be seen is by how much they will move the needle on total sales.

Certainly, new ideas need to be tried.

But good old ideas need to continue to be used as well.

At the World Money Fair the South African Mint will have a specially mintmarked Berlin show-only issue to sell at its booth tomorrow. Collectors will mob it trying to get one of the tenth-ounce gold coins. Mintage is just 2,000 pieces.

Dealers want these coins, too, and would probably buy out the whole issue given the chance. However, there will be a sales limit. What had not been settled at the time of my meeting was whether it would be one to a customer or as many as five.

My colleague, Tom Michael, had many questions for Tumi on a wide range of topics, but it is the silver Krugerrand and the pop-up shops that stay at the top of my mind.