American Stamp Dealer — January 2011
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Becoming A Stamp Dealer
Scott Shaulis

Events are sales opportunities. To drive additional sales, take advantage of these events and understand their philatelic connection. Let’s look at a few examples.The upcoming royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton is already generating a lot of publicity. What’s the opportunity here for a dealer? Prince William’s mother, Lady Diana, was married to Prince Charles in 1981. Prince William’s wedding is sure to generate renewed interest in the 1981 royal wedding. Interest in Lady Diana material may rise too. Demand for that material may be low today, but it will increase as the next royal wedding approaches. Consider advertising material from the 1981 royal wedding as the next royal wedding approaches.<br /> <br /> Some collectors like combination covers. Do you have any covers from the 1981 royal wedding? Are the covers all the same? Can you sell that many copies of the same cover? Take some of the covers and get stamps and postmarks from Prince William’s wedding on the same cover. These combination covers will use up that stock of 1981 royal wedding covers that were not moving.<br /> <br /> When Michael Jackson passed away, interest in anything related to the pop music star, including stamps, increased substantially.Stocks of Michael Jackson stamps that sat idle for years waiting for a buyer suddenly sold like hot cakes.<br /> <br /> Events related to famous people generate philatelic interest. Events such as: a person’s death, an engagement or wedding, or the birth of a baby. Events generate publicity and in many cases, generate interest in philatelic material related to that person.<br /> <br /> Events can be about you. Are you celebrating the end of your first year in business? Maybe your fifth anniversary in business?You can celebrate these important milestones by doing things like offering a coupon for 10% of any purchase to celebrate your tenth anniversary in business. Are you opening your first stamp store?<br /> <br /> Not all events are people related. The break up of the Soviet Union presented some opportunities. Former Soviet states were issuing their own stamps for the first time ever. Some countries celebrate the anniversary of their independence. Political turmoil and war bring about changes too.<br /> <br /> You can plan in advance for some events. For example, the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing is less than a decade away.Buy stamps and covers related to the 1969 event now while it’s not on anyone else’s mind and prices are low. Bring out that stock when the anniversary is near, publicity rises, and demand for this material increases.<br /> <br /> Events can be local in nature too. Is your town celebrating the bicentennial of its founding? If the local post office isn’t coordinating a special cancellation, maybe you can be the catalyst for requesting such a cancel. Take stamps with subjects related to your town and prepare special event covers. Place an ad in the local newspaper to accept preorders. This lets you gauge demand and then you can prepare some additional stock to service the requests from people who don’t preorder. You might even stir the stamp bug in some people and create some new stamp collectors.<br /> <br /> Some events are routine such as the change of seasons. Consider creative seasonal advertisements such as, “Spring into stamp collecting with these specials” or “These hot deals will keep you busy during those long, cold winter nights.” <br /> <br /> Holidays are another routine event. Make packets of stamps that are related to a holiday. Try a packet of 100 stamps with patriotic themes when the US celebrates its Independence Day on July 4th.Or packets of Christmas related stamps as Christmas approaches.<br /> <br /> There are many ways to tie stamp collecting and events together.Events can be local, national, or international in nature. Events are about people, places, and things. Some events are sudden while others can be planned for in advance. Recognize the significance of these events and how to relate them to philately. Smart dealers buy material when prices are low and set it aside for future sales when demand increases.<br /> <br /> On a final note, readers occasionally contact me and asked when I’m going to talk more about stamps. My response is always the same. A stamp dealer is 10% knowing stamps and 90% knowing how to operate a small business. Operating a business involves sales, advertising, finances, ethics and so forth.<br /> <br /> All small businesses are not created equally. My column focuses on small business issues that are particular to a stamp dealer. I gloss over some subjects or avoid them because they don’t apply to the stamp business. For example, attorneys must pass the bar exam before they can practice law. However, there is no professional certification for stamp dealers. Conversely, a philatelic library is important to a stamp dealer, but a library may not be useful to another kind of business.<br /> <br /> There are many other columns that discuss stamps. However, this column has and will always be about the business aspects of philately. A stamp dealer is a business person who deals in philatelic material. In my opinion, knowing a lot about stamps is not sufficient for someone to become a stamp dealer. Which is why so many new stamp dealers fail: they don’t know how to operate a small business.<br /> <br /> You can contact me at: P.O. Box 549, Murrysville, PA 15668 or at