In this month’s RCRW, (April 2011) I am going to discuss shows just concluded in March as well as upcoming shows in April and May. In addition, I am going to discuss some critical tax issues as well as an extremely interesting dealer survey recently taken by the forward thinking folks with the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) organization.
Spring is here and the rare coin show schedule is starting to slow down for the Summer vacation season. March was a busy month. Both the American Numismatic Association (ANA)-Midwinter Shows and the Whitman Baltimore Shows are behind us. The only two major shows for the next couple of months are the Central States Show in Chicago in late April and the Long Beach Show at the end of May.
Although the Sacramento Mid-Winter ANA Show was flat, the action picked up at the Whitman Baltimore Coin Expo last week. Dealer to dealer business was brisk during the dealer set-up hours Thursday morning. The show itself was very busy with brisk dealer to dealer trade and hundreds of collectors looking for coins for their collections. As usual, Baltimore did not disappoint and indeed the show itself continues to be the strongest commercial show in the U.S.
The proposed repeal of the sales tax exemption for coin and bullion related transactions in Maryland has been TABLED. The reports from the Baltimore Show itself were that HB 206 remained in the House Ways and Means Committee at the end of the show and the legislative session is scheduled to end April 11th. Whitman publishing which sponsors the show was probably most responsible for the bill being stalled in committee. Indeed, we heard that Whitman had threatened to move the show out of Maryland. This is very good news for the rare coin business and the Baltimore Show itself.
The Stacks/Bowers Auction was very well attended and indeed finding a spot at lot viewing meant waiting in line before and during the show. Stacks/Bowers Auctions should learn from Heritage Auctions and have a large conference room for lot viewing to allow for more room for more customers to view lots. Evidently computer problems caused the first session of the auction to last until after one a.m. in the morning also. The auction itself featured some outstanding rarities and the prices realized were very strong. Stacks and Bowers are holding the ANA auction in Chicago this summer and that event promises some really incredible consignments.
Also in March we attended a good show in Boston. The Bay State Show is well run and well attended. There are a large variety of mostly regional dealers, although, many dealers attended from other areas of the country. We heard good reports also from the new C.A.M.P. Show in Monroeville, PA.
The April Show schedule includes some good regional shows as well as a great Midwestern Show. The Central States Numismatic Society (CSNS) Show is really a great show. Central States Numismatic Society encompasses eleven Midwestern States. Only the FUN and ANA Shows are bigger than the CSNS Show, although the Fall Baltimore Show is arguably right up there. This year the CSNS Show is being held in the Rosemont Convention Center just a couple of miles from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.
Although I am not a big fan of Rosemont, no one can argue about the overall convenience and availability of both lodging and dining choices. Yes, prices are too high, parking is OUTRAGEOUS and the hotel rates aren’t anything special either, but the show itself is worth it. Like the aforementioned FUN and ANA Shows, many smaller dealers and especially shop owners who only attend a couple of shows a year, attend CSNS. This show has as good a mix of both Midwestern dealers and national dealers as any show on the rare coin circuit. CSNS is a must attend event for dealers and serious numismatists and the CSNS auction is being held by Heritage Auctions.
The Santa Clara Show just an hour South of San Francisco is a great Western Show. Although Santa Clara isn’t as well attended as it once was, the show is growing again. Dealer attendance is up and the move to a Thursday opening has encouraged more dealers to stay until at least Saturday morning. The Bay Area is a natural for good shows with the proximity to both the San Francisco mint and the incredible gold strikes of the 19th century. Coins come out of the ‘woodwork’ there. Try it you’ll like it!
May is a strange month for coin shows. Admittedly, people are busy with their lives. Kids are either starting their summer vacations or graduating. Although Whitman tried a show in May in both Atlanta and last year in Nashville, the attendance and dealer reviews were mediocre at best. There are quite a few good regional shows, but for the last several years three different shows couldn’t get their respective acts together and schedule their shows on different weekends.
Thankfully, the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists, the Denver Show, and the Texas Numismatic Association Shows are on different weekends this year. Unfortunately the Garden State Numismatic Association Show conflicts with Denver, but quite frankly where were they to go? The Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists Show is on the first weekend of the month. The Denver and GSNA Shows are on the second weekend of the month and the TNA show is on the third weekend of the month. Last year all four of these shows were on the same weekend. Whether this great rescheduling was a result of planning or coincidence, the result should be a boon for both dealers and collectors.
The only major show in the month of May is the legendary Long Beach Show held the week of Memorial Day. Long Beach has always been a great show, but a combination of CA tax laws, high table prices, and lack of promotion hurt the show for several years.
Let me say without any equivocation. LONG BEACH is BACK! Not only was the February show well attended, but the ‘buzz’ was back in the room. The room was full of tabled dealers and many dealers who had just ‘walked the floor’ for the last few years have taken tables once again. This is a natural coin venue and personally I have attended nearly 80 straight Long Beach Shows. Long Beach is held three times a year-I am not Methuselah. For anyone in the Southern CA area, this is a must attend show. The area around the convention center in Long Beach has really improved also. There are dozens of restaurants and very nice hotels along with the Long Beach Aquarium and the stately Queen Mary.
Although I have made some negative comments about some shows in past articles, virtually all the clubs, numismatic organizations, and individuals or companies that put on coin shows across the United States do a great job. The logistics of putting on a large show are very complicated and there is always a battle between what collectors want and dealers are willing to DEAL with.
Recently Cindy Wibker with the Florida United Numismatists sent out a dealer survey to all the dealers who had tables at their show in Tampa in January. Not only was the survey well thought out, but a third of the dealers surveyed actually took the time to fill out the survey and return it. I am no statistician, but I think those numbers are very good. Dealers care about the how, what, where, and how much that go into a show. We have to be concerned, after all, because those factors affect our business.
The survey results were quite interesting. In fact, I found I wasn’t such a ‘lone wolf’ after all. Let me give you a few examples of how dealers responded to the questions the survey asked. Personally, I really liked the Tampa location. Interestingly enough most dealers agreed. Not only did they like Tampa, but a large percentage polled responded that they would like to see the January FUN Show in Tampa at least every other year. Indeed, the survey concluded that there was ‘overall tremendous support to return to Tampa’.
The survey also questioned dealers about ‘Early bird’ dealers and mandatory Sunday show attendance. In regard to the Earlybird dealer program the survey found: “There was total, overwhelming support to keep the early bird program at FUN shows. Many dealers wrote comments that “they depend on early bird business to make a show very successful for them”. Recently I wrote some negative comments about the ANA elimination of the Early bird dealer program at their shows. Are you listening ANA?
In addition, the survey polled dealers about mandatory Sunday attendance and the results showed: “The vast majority of dealers do not want to attend the FUN show on Sundays, or at least do not want to be forced to attend.” The ANA has dealt with this in a pretty equitable manner by eliminating Sundays for their shows, although I absolutely disagree with imposing a “FINE” to dealers who leave early under any circumstances. The FUN organization now has the dealer opinions to act accordingly.
When it comes right down to it, dealers would set-up in the middle of the night in a parking garage if they thought they could make money! Sunday attendance at longer shows HAS NEVER been an economically feasible option for dealers-PERIOD. Frankly, the expenses are the same, the time spent is the same, but the sales are virtually ZERO. The ANA has gotten this right.
The differences between the two organizations, as I see it, are as follows: FUN is dealer friendly and the ANA IS NOT. FUN listens to dealers, yet the ANA continues to ignore dealers on several critical issues to the detriment of their shows. Yes, membership opinion counts, but the problem is the ANA members are not ‘paying the freight’, while the dealers are!
My name is Vic Bozarth and I am the Rare Coin Road Warrior. I talk about coin shows from a dealer perspective. My opinions are my own. My wife Sherri and I travel over 200 days a year to coin shows all over the continental U.S. We attend all major U.S. coin shows as well as most big regional shows notwithstanding scheduling conflicts. Why do we travel so much? Frankly I love coin shows! BUT, most importantly, we travel to buy scarce coins with great eye appeal for our customers. We buy new coins virtually every week. To see our inventory selections you can visit our website Bozarthcoins.com or our Ebay Store.
Best Regards, Vic and Sherri Bozarth.