September 29-October 2, 2021: The Long Beach Coin & Currency Expo
For about the past 5-6 years Team CRO has been taking an ultra-convenient Boston to Long Beach non-stop flight to this show, zipping through an uncrowded HO-sized airport, grabbing a quick 15 minute cab ride to our hotel, and arriving at our show hotel relaxed and ready for action.
So we were of course disappointed to learn that that flight no longer exists, and we would instead have to careen into LAX with 150,000 other people, schlep miles to baggage claim, take an actual bus to the taxi stand, and then drive 45 minutes to that same hotel.
But once we arrived we were a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y delighted to be back here for the first time since February of 2020(!). And yes, there are a bunch of covid restrictions at the show this time (e.g. you either have to show proof of vaccination or have a negative test and you have to wear a mask), but that’s hardly a big deal to us since those are the exact same restrictions we have encountered all summer long in multiple venues in what has been an action packed travel schedule stretching from Montreal to Athens, Greece to Portland, OR and including, so far, two (2) weddings.
And while we do not expect any weddings this week (except for Andy at the GC table), we are confident that there will be lots of numismatic activity of all kinds to be conducted from our command center at table #802.
So, hey, if you are in the area, we sure hope you’ll stop by and us.
But if you cannot make it do not fret, as we will once again be blogging about this event each and every morning from the show so you can follow along with the action from the comfort of your very own Barcalounger (though please remember that we are on Pacific time here, so you may not see it until mid morning each day on the east coast).
September 29: Dealer Set-Up
Wednesday in LB was similar to every show we’ve attended out here in the last 20 years or so, except this one would be held in Hall C, as opposed to the regular venue in Hall A.
Interestingly, or annoyingly, accessing Hall C required a circuitous walk around the back of the convention center into a place I had not visited since that time Julian Leidman and I got locked out of the main building 10 years ago when he insisted we leave our stuff behind after show hours on a Saturday because he wanted to have dinner at P.F. Chang’s.
1. I have never forgiven him for that.
2. That Sezchuan Beef was absolutely delicious.
And while I recall we almost had to climb in through a window to get back into the building back then, this time we merely talked our way past the security guard at a door in the chicken wire fence, got our lime green covid compliant show wristbands and entered the building through some doors over near this structure:
Which for two decades I have always thought was the Long Beach Aquarium (and I can’t be the only one) based on the fact that someone painted whales all over it. But it’s not – it’s actually something called the Pacific Ballroom. Hmmmm.
Anyway, our own show in Hall C nearby looked like past Expos, with a similar layout and many of the usual suspects all in basically the same spots they always are.
Including us, right near the front, at a corner table, where we quickly set up four (4) cases of CRO-quality coins including every unsold item on our website, and about 25 never before seen NEWPs that will be on our next EB if they survive this show.
And then began our usual process of walking the floor looking for cool stuff to buy, finding about 10 nice US and world coins from regulars we always visit, but also some neat things from various local guys set up here. I expect that NEWP haul to increase – a lot – tomorrow as not everyone was set up on this day and there will presumably be many more tables for us to visit on Thursday.
Assuming we have the time, which may not be the case as we expect a bunch of local customers to be here to buy, sell, trade and grade in which case we may find ourselves glued to our own table for much of the day which would also be just fine.
With our last deal of Wednesday the sale of a WA Quarter, followed by the attempted but unsuccessful purchase of a rare gold coin at another dealer’s table, one of a few we considered on this day and just could not get to their asking price. Oh well, maybe that too will happen before we’re done here.
After which we dropped our bags at the hotel, walked over to the Westin for a drink with some collector and dealer friends and then headed to Thai District for an always excellent dinner at one of our favorite restaurants on the circuit.
Before returning to our hotel, talking to two customers on the phone, selling one coin, agreeing to buy a neat deal of world coins and then collapsing after what had been a thoroughly entertaining, commercially successful, ‘Hey-it’s-good-to-be-back-here’ 20-hour day at the LB Expo.
With our next RR to be posted in this same spot in just about 24 hours from now and filled with exploits of the various amazing things we bought and sold here on Thursday. We hope.
September 30: Day 1
Team CRO was up and out early on Tuesday for invigorating walk along the ocean during which stared directly into the sun on the way out, passed 23 other like-minded coin dealers, eventually looped back to the hotel (at which point we could stop squinting), had breakfast, meandered over to the convention center, got our ‘covid compliant’ wristbands and arrived at the table about 9:15. Wow. That was a long sentence.
Where we encountered an already busy and active bourse floor with business being done pretty much all over the place. And that would only accelerate at 10 when the public came in creating genuinely crowded aisles which we were delighted and slightly surprised to see.
Conclusion: Whatever damper the covid situation has put on this show was apparently offset – like a massive pendulum swinging the other way – by the pent up demand for an actual in-person coin show here in SoCal.
And we were very happy to be right in the middle of it, with a steady stream of visitors to the table, and active sales right from the start and continuing on, mostly unabated, until 3:30 or so when the traffic finally died down.
With a surprising amount of our business in world coins, medals and tokens to both collectors and dealers alike, including coins that we already had on the website, as well as new things just introduced here.
Buying was also robust, in all categories, as a lot of neat deals walked up to the table, and we managed to steal away just enough time to find more interesting CRO-style coins in various dealer cases around the room.
Also interesting (to me anyway) was the grading, with an impressively long line of people waiting to submit at the PCGS table all day long, and our own results on coins we submitted by mail last week and/or dropped off on Wednesday coming back in earlier than we expected, and, generally speaking, with the results just where we had hoped they’d be.
Which means we’ll have even more NEWPs to unleash in the next EB, or to possibly trickle out here at the show on Friday depending on how we feel.
With all of that stuff adding up to a great day at the show on Thursday, followed by an excellent dinner with dealer and industry friends at 555, another of our favorite restaurants in town and one we’ve missed for 18 months now.
Finally getting back to the hotel late and turning in early so we could be well rested for what we hope will be a similarly good day on Friday.
And if it is, or even if it isn’t, you can read all about our adventures right here in this space on Saturday AM.
October 1: Day 2
Your author kinda figured Friday might be slower than Thursday here at the show since that tsunami of visitors is generally pretty hard to sustain.
And it turned out that I was right in terms of foot traffic and unit volume of sales at the table. I was, on the other hand, wrong (really, really wrong) about the dollar volume since Friday’s total turned out to be almost exactly 3x higher. A total achieved basically by the sale of a few big coins at the table, helping swing our overall results here in LB from merely very good to super deluxe.
Which is always one of the interesting and unpredictable aspects of any show, where a couple of transactions can completely change the complexion of the proceedings.
So we were feeling pretty flush as we tried to add to our NEWPs on this day, but that proved to be not so easy in a room where we have already vacuumed up the lowest hanging CRO fruit, and the number of cool things walking up to the table slowed to a trickle. Or I should say the cool things priced at levels where we could actually buy them, since we did see a number of other neat coins we wanted that were unfortunately priced out of reach.
But at least those coins actually had prices on them. Several other things we saw at this show in dealer cases and in boxes that walked up to the table were marked “NFS” (Not For Sale). Meaning they were part of a museum-like display, or this was actually some sort of extra clever sales technique in which I was supposed to beg the owner to sell them to me. If the latter, sorry, not really interested in that.
Despite that, we did come up with another 5 cool coins here Friday bringing our total so far to a pretty decent 31. That’s still not enough, but of course there is one more day to go and you never know what might happen.
So we’ll be out here swinging all day on Saturday, probably long after most other dealers have packed up and left. Which means that if you are reading this, live locally and have some interesting CRO-style coins to sell, it might be worth your while to come to the table and show them to us.
With whatever we buy, and/or sell to be described in this space in our final RR from the September 2021 LB show on Sunday AM.
Until then, then –
October 2: Day 3
As our regular readers may well have predicted, we are pleased to recap the final day here in LB through one of our patented series of random observations. Starting right now:
We really enjoy walking along the ocean during our LB stays, which we did to the tune of about 9,000 steps on Saturday before we even set foot in the convention center.
While we are delighted with our table location here (in what I call the “Julian Leidman in Baltimore” position right near the door), that can be a little bit of a double edged sword. On one hand, we are delighted that collectors who arrived here with something to sell tended to bump into us first, but on Saturday we also got plenty of people who wanted to show us bags of pocket change or “error” coins that were actually regular coins that had been run over by what appeared to be a filthy golf cart. Though of course we’re willing to put up with some of that if it means we get first shot at any good coins.
If the incredible length of the queue of customers waiting in front of the PCGS table each day is an indication of market strength, I’m not sure it’s ever been stronger.
We ended up immediately displaying and ultimately selling a number of the new coins we bought here on Wednesday, including a wicked red and green toned Morgan in an old fatty slab that was by far the most looked at coin in our cases this week. Would that have been better on the next EB? Maybe, but in my experience this sort of item draws so many eyes in a bourse case it was worth exposing here.
One the other hand, this coin which we also sold here was more debatable as it would have looked darn good on the list:
The show snackbars were incredibly convenient to our location, but also absurdly overpriced and the turkey sandwich offered therein had the faint smell of 10th grade biology class formaldehyde. For the avoidance of any potential confusion, we have always considered that especially unappetizing.
For the first time ever, MaryAnn and I were asked to autograph a customer’s CRO hat at this show. Did we? Of course, though we realize full well that this does not mean we are “big time”.
Speaking which, we got a kick out of seeing PCGS’s Steve Feltner’s giant happy face prominently displayed on 80 gazillion banners and posters throughout the bourse floor.
Saturday here was really busy, with our last sale at about 3:30 PM, and the purchase of a completely unexpected wicked silver coin right after.
I noticed for the first time this week that the Hyatt Hotel has about 25 swan-shaped paddle boats available for rent in their tiny lagoon. I was also going to say I had never, ever seen anyone rent one, until I looked up during dinner on Saturday and suddenly saw about 5 of them in action like bumper cars at a carnival.
It proved to be considerably easier to fly out of LAX than it was to fly in, so maybe this change in our travel schedule to do this show won’t be so bad afterall.
Whatever concerns people had about covid restrictions at this show, I didn’t notice any meaningful impact on our results here, which were pretty fantastic.
And now, back home in New England, we’ll be sorting NEWPs, sending coins off to CAC, shipping out orders received during the last week and then switching to photography / EB prep in anticipation of our next Early Bird to be launched on Tuesday, October 12th.
So as we always say, you might want to keep an eye out for that.