> this year. The average age of APS members is rising. Street-level stamp > stores are disappearing. Stamp collecting as we know it seems on the way > out. Perhaps its time has passed, much as cigar band collecting had its day > and then disappeared...
Stamp stores have been going away for quite some time now. The overhead etc is simply too much to carry with the limited profits to be gained. Since Jeff is a dealer it must be depressing indeed.
Similar things are happening everywhere though. The small store is simply no longer a viable option as people head for the malls or the large discount chains. The distributor-wholesaler is also hurt by this switch. There was a time when you could by very little wholesale unless you had a connection somewhere. Today, you can but just about anything at dealer prices.
I just bought a lateral filing cabinet at the same price United Stationers sells it to its dealers. The guy I bought it from calims that for 30 years he's been wholesaling to dealers but now, with the advent of Staples and others, the dealers are no longer able to stay in business and buy from him. So he's put a sign up: 'wholesale to the public' in order to survive.
It is the trend of the times. Kmart alone killed off thousand of stores as did Sears before them.
With stamps we simply buy from the agencies directly or find that auctions are better suited for the prices we wish to pay, which is as little as possible.
Personally, I've not been to a stamp store in 10 years or so. Everything comes by mail for convenience and price. It is the way it is.
Steven G. Anderson writes: The `decline' in stamp collectors is only real in the US and is primarily caused, IMHO, by the abusive issuing policy of the USPS and the arrogance of stamp dealers. I had a novice collector in my office yesterday bemoning the number of US of new issues. She just couldn't afford to keep up. I gave up on US new issues a couple of years ago for the same reason. I went to WCSE and was somewhat disappointed. I had hoped for a repeat of Ameripex. A number of dealers had taken 1992 catalog values, multiplied them by 1.5 and claimed that this was the Scott value. They then gave 50% off of that. That is deceptive advertising and these dealers deserve to be put out of business. The amount of misgraded material was enormous. Average stamps were being treated as VF-S. LH meant all of the gum was missing where a hinge had been. I saw none of this in 1986. I had a question about a Bolivian cover I have and sought out a dealer specializing in Latin America. I was treated so rudely it is indescribable. If I didn't have a cover worth thousands, he wasn't even interested in talking to me. I was in Munich a couple of years ago and wandered past a stamp store. The dealer didn't speak English, and I don't speak German, but we had a great time.
The other big impact has been card collecting. Kids can relate to the people or characters on the cards, but how many kids relate to Queen Victoria? Also the dealers at the shows are friendly to the kids and helpful.
As for the average age of APS members getting older, the entire population is getting older. If its aging at a rate substantially higher than the general population, then worry. The August 10 issue of Linns had a paid circulation of 70,125. As money is getting tighter people would rather buy stamps than newspapers. The entire economy is going into a deflationary spiral, not just stamps. Don't blame Scott for the problem, they are just reporting reality.