Gold, silver rush sending buyers sellers to Renton Coin Shop downtown | Then and Now
By TRACEY COMPTON
Renton Reporter Staff writer
Septemer 29, 2011
The Renton Coin Shop is important to the community because it provides people with money and liquidity, he said. We see more people from more walks of life and I think were seeing quite a few more middle class people than we were before that are looking for a little extra money to help pay the rent or to make their mortgage payments, Campau said.
People are digging up coins that their grandparents gave them and Campau said, Its a treasure hunt everyday.
The Renton Coin Shop has probably five to 10 million coins. On a typical day they will have as many as 100 or 125 customers. And so the traffic has changed a lot, said Campau. A lot of people buying and a lot of people selling more gold, more silver. Its an extreme, he said, from the poorest customers buying $2 to $3 items to people that buy items worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Over the years Campau has watched as the value of gold and silver has gone up and down, but whats remained a constant is the community thats formed around the shop. We get an awful lot of referrals and word of mouth simply because this shop has been here treating people decently since 1964, said Doug, a long-time shop worker. And that makes a big difference. Doug started helping the original owner, Tom McNeelan, in the late 1980s at the shop as a hobby but came to work full-time about 12 years ago when he retired from his regular job.
He got an education from working and learning about coins in the shop and said, Ive met so many darned nice people over the years who have similar interests.
The shop has remained for years a centerpiece of the community, but is also attracts people from as far away as Montana, Anchorage, British Columbia and Oregon. There used to be two workers serving the customers, but that has changed to five people working the shop.
The Bid Board, which Campau describes as an early eBay, still has 7,000 names of bidders and sellers on it. The shop has undergone a major remodel in which all of the old fixtures were removed. It took them one year and they are still re-organizing 45 years worth of items that have been stored in the shop all this time.
Amongst their dusty treasure theyve found pennies from the 1930s, 40s and 50s and rolls of nickels. Now when customers asks for a nickel from 1935, shop workers can ask which grade would they like and pull it from a tube and sell it to them.
Some of Campaus other rare treasures include a 1909, gold, $5, Indian coin that was one of the last minted in New Orleans and valued at $8,350.
He also has a 1916, Standing Liberty Quarter valued at $8,500 and a 1802 1/2 cent piece valued at $10,000.
Campau's love for coins started at age 5 or 6, when his uncle gave him a Churchill Crown and some other British coins. Then he bought his first coin from the original owner of the shop, Tom McNeelan, when he was 7-years-old before McNeelan moved the shop to Renton. McNeelan sold coins from a booth in a Boulevard Park delicatessen before he bought the Renton Coin Shop in 1964.
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When Steve Campau took over the Renton Coin Shop seven years ago there were four counters, now he has 14 for conducting business and he's seeing a greater mix of customers.
With changes in the economy and the value of gold and silver has come a new influx of people.
Well, [gold and silver] are really important right now because theyre helping keep peoples portfolios balanced and the people who are selling it need money, said Campau.
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