August 18th, 2009

Discouraging Words

How to Discourage Young Collectors

They say that some truth underlies all sarcasm. (Isn’t that what they say?) So, about two weeks after the ANA’s World’s Fair of Money was held in Los Angeles, pardon me while I let it flow freely.

* * *

For years, I’ve been trying to figure out how to draw younger people into coin collecting. It’s tough. The competition from video games, cell phones, social networking sites and other “cooler” hobbies is fierce.

So, I give up. It’s much easier to discourage young people from getting involved with coins. For example:

1) Put a major coin convention in a city that boasts five of the world’s busiest freeway interchanges. L.A. is 54 miles from my little corner of Ventura County. It took 2-1/2 hours for me to get there. Can you imagine if I had a first- or second-grader in the car? I can hear it now:

“Are we there yet?”
“No!”
“Are we there yet?”
“No!”
“How long before we’re there?”

Oy!

2) Charge $6 admission to anyone over the age of 12. What about that rare 17-year-old who may be interested in coins? What if he doesn’t have $6? What if he would rather put the money towards an actual purchase? Sales tax is, what, 20 percent in Los Angeles? That would almost cover the tax on a $40 coin (or note).

3) Once you’ve scraped up six bucks for admission, tour the bourse floor with a potential YN. Coin dealers and collectors are generally a colorful lot. Sadly, mostly gray.

4) If you’re a dealer, make sure you have an air of superiority about you. Glare at the young, potential collectors, glasses sitting on the end of your nose, as you lean out from behind your table into the aisle. Obstruct your coins completely. Scowl a lot and mumble about how kids today never read books and have stunted attention spans. Or, better yet, never sit at your table.

5) Don’t set up one booth where kids and teenagers can see fun, educational materials; spread them throughout the lobby. There were kiosks where you could buy tickets to outside events and banquets, purchase a membership, buy a convention medal, have a cocktail and form a line for the Jonas Brothers concert that was going on next door at Staples Center. (Thinking that I just missed the ANA’s gigantic booth, I even had them page a staff member. They probably couldn’t hear me over the buzz on the floor.)

6) Search through pocket change for the presidential dollars. You know those gold-colored coins that you get in change from the post office? Yeah, those. They’ll never find them all in circulation–at a coin convention or anywhere else.

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