My first time walking into a coin-store was a little nerve-wracking. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a millennial, or the thought of having to prove my passion of coins to older-men was intimidating. But I was more nervous than I should have been.
A lot of people are suspicious of coin stores since they are so used to price-comparing with online sales. The fear of overpaying runs deep in the coin community.
Here are my tips for shopping at a brick-and-mortar coin store.
They Are There To Help!
You shouldn’t feel intimidated walking into a coin-store. They employees are there to help!
Having people more knowledgable than you is not a bad thing, it’s a great asset. The employees can teach you about coins or varieties you may have never heard of.
If you do feel like you are being mistreated or talked down to… you can always walk out! But this is really unlikely, most coin shops I’ve been in have been really helpful.
Even if you don’t fit the stereotypical coin collector you won’t be treated any differently. All sorts of people collect coins, and no matter your situation the store owner is there to help you find the right coin!
Have A Game Plan
Don’t enter the coin store without some idea of what coins you want to buy or a set budget. It is easy to get carried away with the sheer variety of coins available and overspend.
By deciding what coins you want to buy, you can zone-in on just those coins when you walk in. Take a few minutes to browse, but remember what you came for! This will help you from over-spending.
Don’t be afraid to leave with nothing your first time in. If you are used to buying online, where you can compare prices from hundreds of sellers at a time, it may feel strange to trust one seller.
There is nothing wrong with leaving, and coming back another time to buy. But this leads me to my next point…
A Store Is Not Ebay
The benefit of buying from a brick-and-mortar coin store is that you get to build a relationship with the seller. Instead of just being a username on a computer, the seller gets to see a human with real emotions.
A physical coin store may not have the best prices, but it gives you a real person to connect with about coins. Eventually, the shop-owner may get to know your tastes and cut you better deals or let you know when new coins come in.
Also, some coin stores do have the best prices! Especially if you want to buy in bulk, or buy several cheaper coins at once, it can be much cheaper to buy in-person.
When you go to a physical coin shop, you don’t need to pay for the cost of shipping and handling. Some coins, like common Indian Head Pennies or Buffalo Nickels, just aren’t worth the price to ship on Ebay, so online sellers increase the prices.
Be friendly with the shop owner! You may come back.
However, Don’t Be A Nuisance…
You and the shop owner clearly love coins and that is great! Many people start coin shops so they can spend all day talking about a subject they love.
Most coin shop owners like having return customers who they can talk too, but there must be some boundaries if you come in regularly just for conversation.
When a paying customer enters the shop, politely let the owner attend to them. Don’t hover over customers, or make recommendations, that is the owners job.
If you do plan to visit the store regularly, check with the owner to make sure it’s okay. Ask what the most convenient times are for you to visit. And buy a coin every once in a while, the owner depends on it.
Don’t Handle Too Many Coins If You Don’t Plan To Buy Them
Think of it this way, most waiters don’t serve food with gloves on. A waiter tries to touch the plate as little as possible with their bare hands, no matter how clean their hands may be. Most people accept that a waiter’s thumb may touch the top edge of the plate, but little else.
Handling lots of coins is like a waiter eating a fry off of your plate.
Okay, this may be an extreme example. But the oils on your hands can cause damage to the coin, even if it isn’t visible yet. Most coins will be sealed in cardboard flips or plastic (PVC-free) containers, but even coins that are not sealed should still be handled with care.
Pick a few coins up if you are considering buying them, but don’t get too carried away touching every coin just because you can. Touching coins damages them for the next person who buys them.
And finally, for the love of God…
Don’t tell the shop that you could buy a coin cheaper on eBay!
If the prices seem too expensive, then just leave the store. If your plan is to try to get the owner to lower the price instead say, “This is out of my budget.” Not all coin stores accept bartering.
Share your worst and best coin store experiences in the comments below! And don’t forget to vote in our poll: