Since I teach a class on starting and running small businesses I get a lot of “seasoned” students. What I mean is that most of the people who are interested in the topic have been working for a while and want to find a way to make it on their own. Not too many 18 year olds sign up, and those that do don’t usually last the full semester.
And since my students are serious about starting their own businesses they usually have a lot of very specific questions that go beyond the theory and general know-how we cover in class. Let’s just say my office hours are usually well attended. Not that I mind it, I love going over the nitty-gritty details of what it takes to own and operate your own business.
This past semester one student, Art, visited almost every week to talk about his plans. He stood out because he was quite a bit different from the other people in the class. First off, he was retired and in his mid 60′s. Second, he wanted to start a business for “fun” not because he needed the money to survive. And third, he wants to sell valuable coins.
Most of the people I know who are looking to go it on their own usually want to do something tech related, like software or e-commerce. Art’s goal was much more traditional. He found a small retail spot with cheap rent and very favorable lease terms. I helped him review all the documentation, get a business license, a tax ID, set-up QuickBooks, and a few other things. This is the boring part of starting a business.
Most owners start getting excited when they start buying their inventory and setting up their store and Art was no exception. Except for the fact that he didn’t need to buy any inventory, he already owned it! See, Art inherited a bunch of coins from his dad about 20 years ago. Coin collecting has always been a passion of his dad’s and he had passed along the interest to Art. Art wasn’t as accomplished a collector as his father had been but he had collected several thousand coins of his own, all cataloged and preserved.
So when he took over his dad’s collection he easily had 10,000+ coins to looks after. For a while it was a great way to remember his pop. He’d go through the collection and reminisce about the good times they had at coin fairs and sorting through change jars at yard sales and flea markets. But eventually the collection began to lose its luster. Art valued the collection at several hundred thousand dollars, all of which he kept in a number of safe’s in his garage. He began to worry about being robbed or losing the collection to a fire or earthquake. He wanted to share the collection with other collectors but worried about too many people finding out about it.
If you’re not familiar with valuable coins, check out this list here to get a better understanding of why Art began to worry. He didn’t want to just lock the collection away in a bank somewhere and totally lose touch with it. Which is why he decided to open a storefront. This way he can be around the coins he values so much and talk with others who share his passion for collecting. He’s holding on to the most valuable and sentimental coins to pass along to his own kids.
For Art his coin business really is about passion. He understands that coin collecting is not as popular as it once was and hopes his store will be a place people who still enjoy the hobby can meet to talk and share. I was glad to be able to help out just a bit and am sure his store will be a resounding success.