Part of my learning the world of philately was sitting down at dealer booths. At a busy show, you can’t just take a chair; you should be a customer. We’ve all done it: digging through the material, setting items aside, and debating on whether to buy it then or come back. I also made small talk with the dealers and customers to learn about the hobby and the APS, and get to know the people. I have boxes of material in my office representing each stop, each dealer, and the education attached to it.
Not long after I joined the APS, I attended Chicagopex, a World Series of Philately show held every November by the Chicago Philatelic Society. I remember the show because they had one of the heaviest snowfalls that year, and traffic was light. I sat down at a booth, and the dealer was giving me his view of the hobby while I dug through covers. We were interrupted by a customer, who seemed a little lost. He’d admitted he hadn’t been collecting long and told the dealer what he was collecting.
The dealer invited him to sit down. With a light crowd, the dealer took an interest. He showed him items he thought were in his price range and asked about his library. Since I was sitting there, he introduced me and recommended the gentleman join the APS. By the time the customer left, he had a list of books, an APS application, and several new acquisitions. The dealer looked at me very seriously and said, “You can make a sale, or you can make a customer.” As time went on, I learned the dealer was not just a dealer but a very successful one. He was also a writer and researcher, and has volunteered countless hours to be an instructor and mentor. He also gave me a different way to look at dealers.
Often, we think of dealers as trying merely to sell us what we want, and they are happy to oblige. In most cases, dealers are also knowledgeable philatelists who can be an excellent resource for collectors of all levels. They have seen more than their fair share of stamps, participate in auctions worldwide, serve as experts, teach courses, and so much more. It takes time to build a relationship with a dealer, but you’re able to grow in the hobby as you do. Not just because they can sell you stamps or covers, but because they will help you gain more significant knowledge about the collection you’re building.
In this issue, we dedicate numerous articles to resources in the hobby. They are all great reads that will, hopefully, give you better tools for collecting. On other pages, you will see advertisements from many auction houses and dealers. These ads are important for two reasons: 1. They help us deliver an excellent monthly journal to you at the same membership cost since 2008, and 2. They want to be a resource for your collecting.
Remember, every time you read The American Philatelist, there’s good content between the articles, too. As you read through this issue, here’s a challenge. Find an advertiser you’ve never done business with before and look for something to add to your collection. You’ll find all of them are knowledgeable, helpful, and, of course, willing to sell you material. Each of them is not just looking to get a sale; they’re looking to get a customer.
Let me know how it goes. You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the mail (I will write back).
The Our Story Column is reprinted from the March 2021 Issue of The American Philatelist, The Buyers Guide Issue. If you are interested in joining the American Philatelic Society to gain access to members only benefits such as this highly acclaimed monthly magazine, visit Together We Grow today!