10 Rules on How to get a Good Deal from a Dealer at a Coin Show
Author: Mike Garofalo - Thursday June 27, 2019
You are walking around at a coin show and suddenly you stop! There it is! A coin that you have been looking for show after show. It is just sitting there quietly… inside your heart is pounding faster and faster. You want to add it to your collection, but you want a good deal. Are those two desires – buying the coin at all costs and getting a good deal on it – incompatible?
No they aren’t! Okay, so what is the trick? How do you do it? After 40 years as a Coin Dealer, I think that I can help you.
There are my 10 rules for you to follow:
1. Be friendly – Every coin dealer would rather deal with someone who is a “nice guy.” You are always more willing to deal with someone who is nice. Say hello. Be polite. You feel better and you make a good impression on the dealer. I would also give the exact same advice to the dealer. Why should a buyer deal with a grouchy coin dealer? But YOU can start the friend-fest rolling! Be friendly.
2. Be aware – if the dealer is involved in talking to other collectors or other dealers, acknowledge him and just quickly tell him you will be back. If he is truly busy, he will appreciate it. Interrupting him might annoy him, if you need his attention on a $100 coin, when he is discussing a $10,000 deal. If his conversations are social rather than business, this will give him at opportunity to break off the social chat and do some business, which is why he is at the show to begin with.
3. Be knowledgeable – If you know what the current Greysheet price is then mention it to him. It allows the dealer to understand where the “wholesale” market is, He likely paid the Greysheet wholesale bid or a little more or a little less for his coin that you want to buy. But know that there are exceptions. Some coins trade for much more or for less than the printed wholesale price. It is not always accurate but it is 80-90% of the time.
Expect the dealer to want to make a profit on it as well – that is how dealers stay in business. On a bullion coin – 5% or less is not unreasonable. On a collector coin – 10 to 20% is normal. On a really rare coin, or one that has amazing toning, expect to pay a LOT more. Likely the dealer paid a LOT more for that special coin too!
4. Don’t be afraid to Negotiate – Some dealers tell you “this is my best price” and often they mean it. They may not be able to lower the price because they do not own the coin outright – they might own half the coin and he is partners with someone else. But he might also own the coin and have had it in inventory for some time. Some dealers take “shots” at a customer – they throw out a high price and hope you want the coin more than anything and that you are uncomfortable negotiating. Ask, “what is your absolute best price on this coin,” and see what he says. If it is a good price look at the coin again and then either commit to buy it or thank him and move on. Too many times a collector is given a good price and they are afraid to pull the trigger and buy it. They often lose that special well-priced coin to another collector.
5. Do not over-negotiate – He quoted you a very fair price for the coin. Coming back with a counter-offer sometimes works if the dealer is desperate to sell it. But if you both know it is a good price, over-negotiating makes the dealer think you are one-sided. For a deal to work, it has to be good for both parties. Do not get greedy.
6. Do you take cash? Some dealers love to take cash as payment. For some of the larger dealers it is more of a hassle. If the dealer prefers cash you have a little additional leverage. If he doesn’t want cash, or if you don’t have enough cash, you may have to give him a check. Remember, you have his coin. All he is getting in return is a piece of paper that is a promise to pay, Do NOT feel offended is he asks other dealers about you – has this guy ever bounced a check to you, is his reputation good? Expect it. Remember many dealers, especially those at smaller shows are part-time dealers and cannot afford losses. So they are exceedingly careful. Carrying cash, if safe to do so, is a good method to getting good prices. Sometimes a dealer will sell a coin for $25-$50 less for cash.
7. Don’t ask for terms AFTER you agree to buy it – You found a nice coin, you negotiated the best price. Then you want to ask the dealer if he could hold your check for 2 weeks, until you get paid again. Suddenly, the deal that the dealer thought he had, now changes. That is not fair nor should you expect him to accept the “new terms” with a smile. He might accept it – he may not. It depends on his financial situation. In any event, if there are any terms with your payment tell the dealer upfront. Dealers always try to be more accommodating when they know your situation before negotiations begin.
8. Buyer’s remorse – You buy a coin at a coin show. It isn’t perfect. But it is nice, fairly priced and close to the grade that you want. As you walk around the show, you see the PERFECT coin. It is the exact grade you want and it is fairly priced. You want to buy it but you don’t want two of them. Now what do you do?
What I would suggest is to go back to the dealer you bought the first coin from and explain what happened. Do NOT expect the coin dealer to simply give you your money back, no questions asked! He isn’t Walmart! Ask him if he would like to buy it back at a lower price than you paid. Many times he may want to do that. If you paid $225 for a coin, offer it back to him at $190-200. Yes, you lose a little bit of money but you keep a dealer connection and he knows you recognize that he needs a profit to stay in business.
9. Buy what you like and what you know – I have been at coin shows where collectors come up and 5 out of 10 of them will ask for the same type of coins. Everyone is chasing the “hot coins” or the “hot series” in the market. So, you buy it and eventually the buyers stop buying. Guess what happens? Prices fall. You are better off buying what you know and like than chasing the hot commodity of the month. If you buy coins that YOU like, YOU will always enjoy owning them. It is a better way to enjoy our hobby than any other I know, Don’t be talked into buying something you don’t really like or understand. Make up your own mind and you will be much happier.
10. Be a Familiar Face – Back when I was much younger I would go to 6 to 8 coin shows a month. I would see hundreds of collectors at these shows. As I got to know some of them, then knew I was someone they could trust. I got to know them and know what they liked/collected and how reliable they were. I also got to know who had a “good check.” These were the collectors I tried to always give good deals to, because I know I would be rewarded with their future business.
I hope these 10 tips are helpful. They are designed to help you do what you intend to do at a coin show – buy coins from the dealers there are the best prices possible. I welcome you to send your comments to: