CHARPEX! Also, How to Lose Customers as a Dealer

CHARPEX was this weekend!

I enjoyed roaming around and visiting the dealers, several of which I bought from.  All but one were exceptionally nice and helpful (more on that below), and it’s always fun to view material in person as opposed to on a computer screen.

I will, of course, continue to buy more philatelic material than I should from online sources. 🙂

I meant to take several pictures, but I got so involved with everything that I forgot — except for this picture showing a row of exhibit frames.

I got some wonderful and interesting stuff, and even walked out under budget!  In total I think I was there for 3–4 hours.  If I were looking for US material, I would have been there longer — most of the dealers (understandably so) had primarily US material.

But enough about that!  I’ll share some of the goodies that I was able to find.

First up are these Mariachi FDCs.  There was a lady at the show that makes these by hand — including making the envelopes themselves.  While the Mariachi stamps aren’t my favorite, I thought these covers were really neat.  It’s hard to see in the picture, but the instruments are three-dimensional, sort of raised off of the paper.

I also snagged some postal cards from Sweden.  I don’t know anything about these at all — but I do collect Sweden, so I thought they would be a good thing to grab.  They were very cheap so I didn’t feel bad buying something I didn’t know anything about.

Of course I also can’t resist early Austria-Hungary postal history.  These will go into binders with the rest of mine.  I snagged the Bulgarian card for a friend.

I overpaid for these a little bit, I think, but I was glad to find them.  The top is from the 1858 Austrian issue, and it is “type I” which is the less common type with broken bow loops behind the head.  I may write a separate article on this series later…it’s one of my absolute favorites.  The bottom stamp is a high-denomination stamp from Ukraine, issued in 1919.  Due to the high denomination they were mostly used on documents and receipts, but this appears to be a postally used example which is less common.

Lastly, these postcards from Austria and Germany.  The upper left card has some of my favorite German Empire stamps on it.  I haven’t yet sat down to figure out what the card means and was used for — but it was part of a bargain that I got (lumped in with the postal cards above from Sweden, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria) so it was an easy decision.  The other three are from Austria, the bottom two are particularly interesting, they are from the era of and feature many of the stamps from the definitive issue of 1908 commemorating 60 years on the throne for Emperor Franz Josef.

The only negative experience I had was from one particular dealer.  I don’t know his name, so I can’t really call him out (and I don’t know if I would have anyway).  I had been asking several dealers about their Austrian stock, specifically about the 1936 10 Schilling Dolfuss issue, which is one of the glaring holes in my Austrian collection, mainly because it’s a pricy stamp.

Looking at ebay sales, I’ve seen mint hinged examples being sold as low as $250, for decent examples with good centering.  I’ve been mulling it over for a long time…it’s one of the few that I’m missing but it’s also one that is a commitment because of the cost.  I was hoping that seeing a good one at the show for a good price might tip me over the edge, and I even got sufficient cash out of the ATM in order to get one.  So imagine my delight when this dealer said that he had both mint never hinged and ming hinged!  He asked me which I wanted to see, so I asked to see the mint hinged example knowing it would be the cheaper of the two.

He brought it out — and the price on the dealer card was $525.  I didn’t hand it back immediately because I know that a lot of the dealers sell below their own listed prices, or they sell stuff they have bought in large lots that had existing proces listed on them from who knows when…so it wasn’t an immediate red flag.

He offered to let me take the stamp out of the card, so I took the tweezers he handed me and did so.  It was beautiful — the hinge mark was barely there, the perfs looked good, and the centering was good.  I asked him if the price on the card was what he wanted to sell it for, and he asked if I was paying cash or credit.  Since I had the cash, I figured there would be a discount — so I told him cash and he said the price was $490.

Since this price was roughly double the best price I have seen online for the same stamp in similar condition, I politely declined and thanked him for his time and handed the card with the stamp back to him.  He said “well at what price would you have said yes?”  I replied “well I’ve seen several of them online sell for $250–300.”

It was at this point that I think he could’ve done several things.  He could’ve asked me about their condition and explained why he thought his offering was worth a higher price.  He could have tried to talk me up to a price closer to what he wanted (I might have paid $350 for it, I know dealers have to make money for all the work they put in to acquire, catalog and list material for sale).  He could have simply said “I’m sorry we couldn’t agree to a price, have a good day” or something similar.

But that’s not what he did — he flat out said (to the best of my recollection) “Well then you’re going to buy garbage.  Take a hike.”  He immediately turned around.

I said “thanks for your time, have a nice day” and decided if I ever saw him again I wouldn’t buy a single thing from him.

Philately has a bit of a reputation as a dying hobby enjoyed only by old people (and I guess it’s partly deserved, but an incomplete picture in my opinion).  Treating people this way will do nothing to further the hobby.  Even if it didn’t lead to a sale, it could’ve been a productive conversation.  He could have showed me other things he had for sale (it’s not like I had to fight other purchasers for his attention), or talked me into buying the stamp at his price by explaining to me why it was worth it.  Nobody needs gatekeeping and a poor attitude.

So, all in all, CHARPEX was a blast and I’m already looking forward to next year!  I didn’t let one rude dealer ruin the day, but I did want to share my experience.

There’s another show coming up in Columbia, SC and I’m looking forward to hopefully going.  I wonder if Mr. Take a Hike will be there?

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