My Old Antique Mall Coin Booth (repost of a 2012 repost of a 2007 writeup):

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by lordmarcovan, May 27, 2017.

  1. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    @Bman33's "Quit Your Day Job to Become a Coin Dealer?" thread inspired me to dust off another one of my old Collectors Universe posts, to illustrate how I became a coin dealer (on a tiny scale, without quitting my day job). I say no, don't quit your day job to pursue your dreams of being a dealer, unless you are VERY driven and have a lot of money in the bank! In this day and age, you don't have to, with the Internet and all.

    Still, for those who want a little "brick and mortar" action, here is what I did, locally. It was fun while it lasted, but when it started to become more work than fun, I sublet the booth to someone else for a year and then eventually closed it all up and resumed just being a collector.

    I ran this little antique mall operation on the side, from around 2003 until around 2012. The images and text are copied and pasted from a 2012 Collectors Universe thread. The original story was from December, 2007. So what follows is a repost of a repost:


    This is probably one of the tiniest "coin shops" around. 5'x10'.

    Some would argue that this isn't really a "brick & mortar" operation and is really more like a flea market "shop", and they'd be correct. It's really just maybe two bricks with a tiny bit of mortar in between them. As flea market setups go, though, it's a tad classier than many. The antique mall is Antiques, Etc., on Newcastle Street in the historic old downtown district of Brunswick, Georgia. It has dozens of vendors of everything from books, nautical charts, fancy ladies hats, jewelry, and all sorts of antiques from furniture on down to smaller items. Some of these antique malls can be junky places (and that can have its own appeal), but this place is a little more highbrow, which serves my coins well, I suppose.

    These pictures were taken in December of 2007.

    Here's a wide shot of the front of my booth. Mine is just a small 5'x10' area in front of the window, between the two doorways. Really, it is all I need.


    Everything you see behind the window in the small room belongs to another vendor, but I have the rights to the front side of the wall. I don't use it much beyond a few signs and a simple chart on basic coin grading. I occasionally display one of the state quarter maps in the window to draw attention.


    Here's the booth as seen from the left side. What really catches people's attention first is my 35c (3/$1) pick bin. The coins are all attributed in 2x2s, which is not usually the case with cheaper pick bins like this. I find it worth the effort. There are old and new coins in the bin, both world coins (sometimes even from the 1800s) and a little bit of inexpensive US material like better Wheat cents or early Jeffersons or low-end Buffalo nickels, etc. These are my bestsellers, and the volume of these cheapo coins often help me make the rent every month! I raised the price to 50c each (5/$2.00) in late 2008, and they're still selling.


    I bought some antique wooden sewing machine drawers from another vendor. They've served me well for more cheap bulk material. The wooden dollars are my business cards. The other drawers are for the ten-cent pick bins. The identified 35-cent (now 50-cent) coins in 2x2s outsell these cheaper, loose 10-cent ones, however.




    Here's the booth as seen from the right side. I keep a wooden stool handy for customers who want to spend a while browsing (the sticker on top of it says "For Coin Booth Customers", so people know it isn't a piece of furniture for sale and that they are welcome to sit and browse). The antique mall staff tell me there are some folks who spend hours going through the bulk bins! The curio cabinet has folders and Dansco albums and 2x2s as well as a few other book and supply items.


    One thing I did for the first several years was to print flips for all of the "better" individual coins. These flips had my tag on the back, and two copies of the insert in them. This enabled the antique mall staff to pull one copy of the insert for me, while the other stayed in the flip for the customer. It was a good system which made record keeping easier, and the flips looked very professional, but it was VERY labor intensive and time-consuming, and I have since had to abandon it and go back to selling coins in handwritten 2x2s like everybody else. As an absentee vendor who depends on non-numismatists to sell his material, however, it is imperative that I clearly label and price everything, to keep them from having to call me with questions.


    Well, I hope you enjoyed the quickie tour of my tiny coin shop. I thought I would post these pictures for somebody who's had the idea of doing something like this, and I welcome your questions. I had the idea of doing such a post a while back (in 2007, when I took these pictures), but I never got around to it. Somebody recently wanted to ask me some things about my little shoestring operation, though, so I thought it was time to dust off these pics and post 'em. [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 27, 2017
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  3. paddyman98

    paddyman98 I'm a professional expert in specializing! Supporter

    Thanks for sharing! :wideyed:
  4. Paddy54

    Paddy54 Well-Known Member

    Very cool post.
  5. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    Double-Paddy action! :)
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  6. paddyman98

    paddyman98 I'm a professional expert in specializing! Supporter

    We are some of the few who actually look at and read super early morning threads ;)

    The cabinet near the entrance, did it revolve?
    Did you sell Mint Errors?
    Did you sell love tokens?
    Do you have a sample of your wooden dollar?
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  7. Pickin and Grinin

    Pickin and Grinin Well-Known Member

    That would be fun. How many months of the year do you make a descent enough profit to cover space rent, and typing the inserts for the coins?
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  8. Bman33

    Bman33 Well-Known Member

    That's must have been fun. Did you ever get to man it yourself?
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  9. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    1. There were two revolving Spin Display cases. With the tray configuration I used, each could hold over 700 coins in 2x2 flips. This is where the better inventory resided, under lock and key, while I didn't mind losing the odd loose piece or two from the pick bins. Those drew people in.
    2. Errors? Once or twice, on occasion.
    3. Love tokens? Not that I recall. I collected those for myself, but don't recall selling any there.
    4. The custom wooden dollars? Gone now, mostly, but I could probably lay my hand on 2-3 strays around here somewhere. ;)
    I almost always made the rent. I never made giant profits, though, because I stubbornly stuck more to what I personally liked, which is World coins. Cheap World coins do fine, but in this medium-sized Georgia town, what people really wanted were generic Morgan dollars and stuff. I did carry that sort of thing, but let my personal tastes more than customer demand dictate what I stocked. In the last year I sublet the booth to Wesley H ("guitarwes" on Co!lectors Universe). He stocked more popular US coins and did 3x to 5x more sales.

    Occasionally, when I felt like it. But the nice thing about a vendor setup in a trusted location is that you don't have to be there all the time. They take the customers' money and charge the tax and process the credit cards, and as the vendor, you get a check every month, minus their commission and the rent.

    And what I could have and should have done was to advertise one day a week where I would physically be on the premises in person, to do free appraisals and buy stuff that was brought in. This is the true advantage the brick-and-mortar dealer has over the Internet operator: he gets the true wholesale material walking in his door and gets to buy from the general public (which, as any dealer will tell you, can be both a blessing and a curse).
    Last edited: May 27, 2017
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  10. Very nice write up! And it may give people some idea of how to test the waters to see if they really want to do this

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  11. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    The antique mall setup (depending hugely on the staff, fee structure, security, and location of the antique mall, of course) can be a great way for an Internet dealer to do a tiny bit of local brick-and-mortar storefront business on the side, without the high overhead.

    This kind of operation can be a good supplement to someone who already has a booming online business, or the tiny vest-pocket type of seller like me- all without "quitting one's day job" if one is not quite ready to take the full plunge yet.
  12. Packrat

    Packrat Well-Known Member

    I have sold coins in antique malls in Tennessee since 1975. It can be a tough go-mall as mall gets 10% plus Tennessee requires retailers to collect 9.75% sales tax on coins and currency. I currently have 10 revolving cases for coins and jewelry, plus coins in other cases as well. We have two coin dealers in two malls and three in one. When you "make rent" that usually means you did not have to write a check to cover your overhead. That is a breakeven point, meaning you basically gave away the merchandise. I use coins as part of what I sell. 10 years ago sales were better. Try buying gold, adding rent and commission and sales tax, and try to make a profit on it. does not happen often. Just need to get a bigger truck.
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  13. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    I'll bump this, since the topic came up in another thread recently.
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