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New purpose for old coin shops?

Coin shops have been a staple of the coin business as long as I have been active in it. They provide a window on the numismatic hobby to many thousands of collectors. For some of them, it was their first exposure to collecting coins.

These days rather than coin shops, I see offices with signs claiming to buy gold and silver springing up all over. I imagine as long as bullion stays strong, these businesses will continue to proliferate.

Bullion buying and selling has helped the cash flow of the traditional coin shop business, but this aside, the numbers of traditional coin shops has been declining. It isn’t easy to cover rent and other overhead costs month in and month out when many choose to go online and do business over the Internet.

Will coin shops go the way of the dinosaurs? Can they be helped in some way?

I ask this question because I had a surprise conversation on my Delta flight out of Green Bay, Wis., yesterday that was taking me to the American Numismatic Association convention in Sacramento, Calif.

As I sat in my aisle seat waiting for perhaps two more travelers to arrive, who should show up to claim the window seat but a former Numismatic News publisher whom I have not seen in several years.

After the opening greetings, I learned that he was involved in the sports card business now. He runs a trade show in Las Vegas that once had roots in Hawaii. He was heading to Vegas.

He mentioned that sports card issuers consider card shops to be important assets that their business shouldn’t lose. They have changed their business to plan to provide exclusive releases through the nation’s card shops rather than just selling everything through the Internet. They think it is good business to do this.

Should the U.S. Mint consider this as it sells its wide variety of products? Having the nation’s coin shop owners acting as ambassadors of the Mint’s product line is not a bad thought. Would collectors accept the idea that only certain coins could be purchased at a brick and mortar location?

That’s an interesting question and at the least is counterintuitive in this Internet age.

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3 Responses to New purpose for old coin shops?

  1. Scott says:

    Here’s hoping Kevin’s show is a success!

  2. Jim says:

    Some of my best memories are going to a couple of local coin shops’ "bid boards" back in the late 1970’s-early ’80’s. Now, unfortunately there’s only one b&m coin shop in about a 25 mile radius from my home.

    Back to the subject; I doubt that the Mint will channel their new offerings exclusively through coin stores, especially considering the recent problems they had distributing their 3 inch "silver hockey pucks" through only a dozen favored/authorized brokers.

  3. John Murphy says:

    Being a former sports card shop owner, I say it’s about time. That the card companies recognize the importance of the local guy on the street is commendable. I can remember all those hours speaking with young boys and girls about my childhood heroes like Micky Mantle and Hank Aaron. showing them how to handle and not handle the cards, the proper storage etc. we even had card flipping contests on Saturday mornings (with commons of course)

    that direct one to one exposure is important if the hobby is to survive and even grow. The has had some real bonehead ideas over the years but supporting the local, down in the trenches guys and gals would benefit everyone. Man I miss that shop.

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