What did I think of the American Numismatic Association convention in Los Angeles?
That is a question many people asked me while I was there and I in turn asked many others the same question.
It was a mediocre show at best. The question is whether mediocre is good enough in the present economic environment to keep the whole hobby on an even keel. This is a question I do not have an answer for.
For every dealer with bad sales, I seemed to run into one who had wonderful sales. And when asked for comments for the news record, there was a marked improvement in the show’s outcome.
That is a human nature. Dealers are known for making the best of whatever circumstances deal them and it does no good to badmouth a show. It might put a potential buyer off. For dealers, the buying and selling is what it is all about.
But that still leaves us with mediocre.
One of the methods veteran hobbyists use to determine whether a show is a good one or not is the noise level in the room. The sound is called the buzz. When the buzz is highly audible, dealers are inclined to think well of things. When it is absent, they get concerned.
There was little if any buzz on the bourse floor of the ANA. Part of this was due to the fact that the ANA began charging an admission fee of $6 a day for nonmembers. This fee could have deterred some hobbyists from coming and kept attendance down.
The ANA offered a deal. A special membership rate of $18 was offered to those at the door. Anybody taking the deal basically got admission to the show and a membership, making the net membership cost in the first year just $12. You can’t beat that.
There were 460 people that took ANA up on that the last time I checked before heading back for Iola. There were probably a few more added since then.
With a membership base that started at just over 31,000, the 460 is not a bad increase for a convention. It was also reported at the ANA board meeting that nonmembers were not arriving and then leaving in droves when told of the admission charge. Certainly, I personally witnessed no such phenomenon.
I was also told that Southern Californians don’t like to come to downtown Los Angeles. Larry Goldberg told me that a show in Santa Monica would have been much better from that perspective.
From my own personal view, I liked the show. The volunteers put on a good one. Those who did come through the door were motivated. If they saw something they liked, they seemed to be buying.
The kids who came by the Numismatic News table to play Treasure Trivia were more engaged in it than I am used to. Is that the economy, or are California kids more into numismatics?
My impressions are not scientific observations, but I got a lot more wide-eyed looks than usual when I handed out the encased Buffalo nickels to the kids and exclamations like, “Wow.” That renews my own enthusiasm.
I think the show reflected the state of the hobby in 2009, not the location.