Coin Shop Etiquette

I was walking around a collectibles shop at our local mall the other day and spent some time looking through the various coins on display. Just standing their watching the daily goings-on gave me several post ideas so this will be the first in a series of coin shop observances. A lot of collectors have questions about pricing, etiquette, and just how to cultivate a relationship with a reputable dealer. Then there are the huge opportunities that present themselves when you’re observant and know about grading, how to spot rare varieties (cherrypicking), and the different strike characteristics of your preferred coin series.

Basic common sense will go a long way towards insuring a warm reception from your local dealer. For example, you have to realize that most shops have a lot of expensive inventory on hand, so coming in wearing flip flops and a sleeveless t-shirt may not inspire a lot of confidence in your sincerity to make a purchase. It’s not necessary to dress up, but clean casual clothing, maybe a collared shirt, will bump up your credibility and put the proprietor at ease.

Give some thought to the fact that the person behind the counter is running a business, their time is valuable, and they expect to make a profit. You are not only paying for a coin. You are also paying for service and knowledge. I have done business with my friends at for years. I know many of them on a first name basis. Gail Watson calls me by name and knows about my love for Buffalo nickels and Standing Liberty quarters. Will I pay a little extra because Gail takes 5 or 10 minutes out of her day to talk to me when I place an order? Hell yeah!

Because we recognize that time is money, always make a courtesy purchase before leaving. It doesn’t have to be much. Even though a dealer’s inventory may not have what you’re looking for, you can always pick up an inexpensive book or some collecting supplies. Just a little consideration like this will elevate you from “tire kicker” to “patron”.

And now a word about haggling. Some people feel the need to dispute the price of everything. I could no doubt write an entire post on this topic (and probably will) so here are a couple of brief thoughts: sometimes you come out on top and sometimes you overpay. In the long run, it’s a wash. That being said, a long term relationship with a knowledgeable, friendly coin dealer is more important to me than being considered a nuisance. Bottom line, if you think it’s too much, don’t buy it.

Simple, huh? As long as there is thoughtfulness and consideration on both sides of a transaction, I’ll be a repeat customer. Next time we’ll talk about how you can arm yourself so that you always make intelligent, informed buying decisions, and how you can make a little money at the same time!

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