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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Stamp Collecting-- is it "Cluttered and Cheap?"

My wife was in the city, giving a workshop-- so I tagged along to go visit some stamp dealers while she was "in session." It is something I enjoy doing, from time to time... sometimes I miss the days when street level stamp shops were more commonplace. These days, stamp stores are few and far between, and many of them are actually general "hobby" shops where you can find everything from sports cards to comics and electric trains... in addition to stamps.

Maybe I'm being overly picky here, but I got to considering whether stamps and stamp collecting are "represented" by dingy, dark, cramped and cluttered stores that make you wonder how many old insects and rat droppings you are going to find, if you buy a box of stamps.

Thinking back to my youth-- when stamp stores were plentiful-- it was a tiny minority that seemed well lit, well organized and clean. Is that what we want, as stamps collectors? Is that a true reflection of "Who We Are," as a group of people.

After we got home, I thought about how this often extends to our modern technological world. Most stamp (dealers') web sites are hardly the model of attractiveness and usability. In fact-- from talking to a few other collectors-- it often seems like a "cheap looking disorganized site" generates more interest than an attractive and well-organized one.

Brings to mind a stamp dealer friend who built himself a new web site, a few years ago. He went from just a bunch of text listings with different colored backgrounds to highlight things... to a very clean looking design that showed off all the stamps really well. He thought he's made a vast improvement in customer service... and was very surprised to learn that a significant number of his customers thought he'd "raised all his prices--" even though all his prices were perfectly unchanged.

Personally, I prefer a nice clean and organized shop or web site. And I especially appreciate a seller who "knows what he/she has" in stock. I don't care for the "I think I may have one of those, let me check my stocks and get back to you in a couple of weeks" school of trading.

How about you?

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