Just Ask John: How Coin Buying Has Changed with COVID-19
How are you guys getting so much inventory week in and week out when you aren't going to coin shows?
As you might know, we’ve taken the Covid-19 situation quite seriously at DLRC. Seeing as my family cares for an elderly father and an immune compromised son, we decided early on to be very cautious and to practice safety first and foremost. It goes along with DLRC culture as well. As a small work family that relies on each other to work as a team, we realize that we can only be as strong as our weakest link. In keeping with that philosophy, our travel has completely ceased since March which has imposed a number of complications, not the least of which is our sourcing of coins.
For the past decade we have used coin shows as our greatest source of coins, as we were always able to refresh our inventory during these events. With the lack of shows since March we were greatly concerned with how we could continue providing the same quality and quantity of items that our customers have grown accustomed to. In order to compensate we developed our customer consignment special. We decided that if we were unable to source coins, we would simply cut our commissions rate and allow our customers to sell their coins through DLRC. Thus far the program has gone over splendidly and for the time being, we’ve extended the consignment special to make it an ongoing offering.
We’ve always solicited for coin shipments to our office from collectors and these have not disappeared. In fact, these days they are even more vital to our operations than before. Interestingly, dealers that are acting as we are and canceling travel, have started sending us packages on an almost weekly basis. We buy what we want and return the rest. It’s really that simple. As one of the top buyers in the country, we’ve gained a reputation for trust, efficiency, and reliability. This, combined with our numismatic knowledge, allow us to be diverse in our buying which in turn incentivizes our dealer friends to send us more packages, which has been a fantastic addition to our business model. And while our shipping expenses may have edged up, our travel expenses have plummeted to zero.
Finally, we've had quite a bit of success working through online dealer groups. We are a member of numerous online groups that share a message board style of conversation and coin listings. While we have typically avoided these arenas in the past, we’ve run with it during this season, forging relationships with many new dealers and bringing in an amazing variety of quality coins. Most of the folks in this group are either wholesale dealers or shop owners who flip the better material that comes over their counters to those who have a wider base of collectors. These groups have been amazing for us during the Covid season and we're excited to continue operating in these spheres.
It should be mentioned too that our auction buying has become far more selective. The lack of lot viewing in major cities on the east coast have negatively impacted our ability to view these coins. In many cases the imaging is not very good and this has unfortunately greatly reduced our auction buying as the quality can at times be highly suspect. While we’ve lobbied for more opportunities and even considered driving 24 hours to lot viewings, we’ve simply allowed that avenue to rest until things start moving once again or the technology is improved so that we can examine coins a bit closer. While this has been a concerning loss for us, we want to be able to fully stand behind our material, so we refuse to compromise our standards when buying.
Covid has changed our entire outlook on buying coins and has forced us to re-evaluate our business model on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis. Overall we’ve tried to remain flexible, stressing the importance of maintaining our standards across the board. While we hope for a return to normalcy soon, we do see the advantages of DLRC coming in strong and we hope to be able to improve on our long term plan and continue serving our collectors as best we can.