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3 Ways Coin Dealers & Coin Shops Operate and Which is Best

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The 3 Ways Coin Dealers & Coin Shops Operate and Which is Best

The coin business, much like other industries, is constantly changing and evolving. In the past, if you wanted to purchase coins or just browse, you could pop into your local coin shop and do just that. While traditional coin shops still exist, the market has shifted a bit in recent years. In fact, when we consider how other coin dealers in our metro area operate, traditional coin stores with a retail storefront, showroom and display cases are more the exception rather than the rule.

If you’re not an avid coin collector and don’t regularly visit these establishments, you may have missed

the shift in recent years. While the transition began prior to the pandemic, we saw a change out of necessity following the lockdowns. In many cases, coin dealers adapted and found that this was more efficient to change their business model and permanently changed how they conduct their operations.

In today’s article, we’re going to describe the three ways coin dealers and coin shops operate and provide some reasons for the various business models. We’ll also provide comments on the pros and cons of each to provide you with a complete picture.

Traditional Retail Storefront Coin Shops

Coin shops have been around for decades. If you grew up in a major city and were at all interested in coins, you likely rode your bike to the local coin shop to see what new offerings were available and to spend your hard-earned paper route money on a few items. Some of these coin shops arerustic coin gold and silver coin shop multi-generational and still exist today. These “old timey” coin shops can oftentimes be found in city squares, are rustic, and probably still have “treasure bins” that you can explore in hopes of hidden treasure.

That’s not to say that all traditional coin shops are old or rustic. While it’s not that common to see many new coin shops spring up, some have been established within the past couple of decades and carry all types of coins and bullion. All coin shops operate differently and tend to specialize in different items and do their best to cater to their local market.  This means that they may primarily carry numismatic or collectible coins, bullion and bullion coins, or a combination of the two.

Traditional coin shops typically operate during standard business hours, are open during the week and occasionally on Saturdays until the early afternoon.gold and silver coin shop examples There’s no need to schedule an appointment to visit these stores, but there’s also no guarantee that you’ll be able to discuss your needs with a coin dealer, as they may have a full crowd and are oftentimes stretched thin.

This type of setup is most beneficial for folks who aren’t looking for a specific item(s) and value convenience over everything else but is probably the least secure of the three types of operations that we’ll discuss.

Coin Shops By Appointment

Some coin shops or dealers, especially those in places like New York that specialize in high-end coins, have always seen customers by appointment. The reason they do this is two-fold. Obviously, the dollar value and therefore the risk is much higher when you’re talking about individual coins worth thousands of dollars. Secondly, these dealers cater toward serious investors and typically don’t want to spend time with tire kickers who simply want to gaze at numismatic rarities.appointment only coin shop example

In response to the pandemic, many coin dealers that previously operated traditional coin shops transitioned to an appointment only status. Much of this was driven by social distancing and capacity limits. While not as convenient for the public, this has worked well for folks who are in the market for specific items or would like to have a discussion with a coin dealer about various options and an investment strategy.

The appointment only status allows a coin dealer to focus on you versus being pulled in multiple directions by having a shop full of potential customers. This one-on-one attention is clearly more beneficial for the customer in the long run. Furthermore, from a coin dealer’s perspective, there’s a higher likelihood that the customer is a serious investor, and their time will be well spent versus spending time with individuals who are primarily interested in browsing.

This type of setup also reduces the chances of crime. When operating a traditional coin shop, criminals can monitor activity and look for an opportune time to strike when the coin shop is empty. If the door is always open, this makes coin shops an easy target. In fact, we’ve seen an uptick in coin shops being robbed and burglarized in recent months and years. Unfortunately, this will likely continue to escalate as we head towards a recession and people become more desperate.

Coin shops that see customers by appointment are most beneficial for folks who are serious investors, have specific items they’re in the market for, and/or have questions that they need answered. Of course, the only drawback is that you could potentially increase your exposure, as the assumption is that when visiting a coin shop that you’re likely to bring in something of value or leave with something of value.

One last quick note – your local coin shop may have transitioned to an appointment only status in recent years, so we recommend that you give them a call to confirm how they’re operating before making a visit, as it may not be possible to meet with someone if you arrive unannounced.

Coin Dealers By Appointment

This may sound like a duplicate of the above, but that’s not the case. A coin dealer isn’t necessarily the same as a coin shop.

Coin dealers tend to operate differently, with many operating out of an office or multiple offices. This type of set up is typically more secure than the above options, and if located in a building with other tenants, makes it impossible for the public to know the reason for your visit.

We chose this business model when we began operations in 2010 in part out of necessity, as I was still working in corporate America at the time, but also to best serve our customers. We realized that if we were going to eventually become the premier coin dealer in metro Atlanta, we needed to offer something that no one else in the industry was offering, which was unparalleled customer service, dedicated time and expert advice. This isn’t feasible when you’re trying to manage a coin shop full of customers.

We also quickly identified that many customers were concerned about security due to the high dollar items they were interested in buying and selling. Furthermore, many of the customers in charge of liquidating large estate coin collections are females, who tend to be more safety conscious than males. We wanted to provide a safe and comfortable environment without distractions where we could meet one-on-one with customers and meet their needs.

While we don’t necessarily consider ourselves trailblazers, more coin dealers have moved to this business model and have found that their time is better spent working with serious investors and/or sellers of valuable collections.

Obviously, the location of a coin dealer that operates by appointment is of the utmost importance. Simply meeting with a coin dealer by appointment doesn’t necessarily ensure safety or security. Ideally, your coin dealer is in an affluent part of town and operates under the radar. While not absolutely necessary, a dealer that operates in a building with multiple tenants will reduce the likelihood of someone knowing the reason for your visit. It probably also makes sense to avoid places with flashy signs or that have folks on the street corner holding, waving or flipping signs.

The coin dealer by appointment status is best geared toward folks who are serious buyers or sellers, are interested in selling large and/or valuable collections, and that put safety and privacy above all else.


We’ve shared with you the three ways that coin shops and coin dealers operate. We began our discussion with traditional retail storefront coin shops, which aren’t as prevalent as they once were. These shops are best for folksgold and silver coin shop who value convenience above all else.

In our metro area, we’ve seen more and more traditional coin shops shift to an appointment only status. This was initially done out of necessity, but many coin dealers have found that they’re much more productive and efficient with this type of business model. Ultimately, this benefits the customer, as you’re provided with one-on-one attention versus having to battle a crowd for a coin dealer’s attention.

Last, but not least is a coin dealer (not necessarily a coin shop) that operates by appointment. This has been our business model from the beginning and has worked quite well for us and our clients. This is the safest and most secure way of transacting in coins and bullion. Look for a coin dealer located in an affluent part of town – ideally close to a police department. This is typically a deterrent for would-be criminals.

We welcome you to reach out to the coin experts at Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers regardless of your buying or selling needs. Not only are we among the most competitive dealers in the industry but provide a safe and secure environment in which to meet so that you are completely comfortable throughout the process.

We look forward to hearing from you and earning your business!

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Tony Davis
Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, a full service Atlanta based coin and bullion dealer specializing in buying, selling and appraising coins and coin collections of all types and sizes. Tony frequently writes on various economic and numismatic related topics affecting the coin and bullion markets and has been published on some of the industry’s leading websites, including Coin Week, the American Numismatic Association, Coin Collector, Coinflation, and Coin Auctions Help, just to name a few. Visit Atlanta Gold & Coin’s website at atlantagoldandcoin.com to obtain additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company. Tony can be reached at sales@atlantagoldandcoin.com or at 404-236-9744

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