AFTER 87-YEARS IN ALBANY, FERRIS COIN OPENS WOLF ROAD STORE
Grand Opening Nov. 1: Business of Rare Coins Has Evolved Through Decades
- Brian Bucher, Jeweler Joins Staff
COLONIE, N.Y. (9/14/17) -- A rare coin business with a long history in Albany has opened in a new building on Wolf Road.
"Our business has been around for 87 years. We look forward to celebrating our one hundredth year," said Mike Dozois, a precious metal and coin dealer at Ferris Coin Co. "This move to a more modern, more efficient space in a new location will meet our current needs so that we can evolve with the changes in the rare coin industry."
Today, Ferris Coin buys and sells gold and silver bullion, coins, flatware and paper currency, as well as gold and platinum jewelry, whether old, new, broken or complete. Four in-house experts offer appraisals for personal and estate collections, including diamonds, and can assist with getting each piece proper insured.
Last week the business moved from 114 Central Ave. in Albany to 199 Wolf Road during the second week of August. At the new 3,500 square foot building, Ferris Coin will have room to properly display special collections with a local theme, like New York Colonial paper currency or Civil War tokens from Albany and Troy.
Dozois and his partners believe the new location, with plenty of parking, at the intersection of the New York State Thruway and the Northway will be convenient for regional customers. Being close to Albany International Airport means out-of-town customers can easily visit the shop by Lyft and soon Uber while on business trips or possibly even long-layovers.
Already the new location is buzzing with customers and activity, as the team snatches intermittent opportunities to finish setting up and settling in.
STAMP & COIN COLLECTING OVER THE YEARS
In 1930, husband and wife Charlie & Arlene Ferris opened Ferris Stamp in downtown Albany at 402 Broadway. Later they incorporated coins into their business model as Ferris Stamp and Coin. In the 1960s, after her husband died of a heart attack, Mrs. Ferris sold the business to Wendell C. Williams who relocated the shop to Lark Street before relocating again to 114 Central Ave. in 1976. The business is now co-owned by Geoffrey Demis, a long-time employee, Mike Dozois and James Naughter.
Today, stamp collecting is nowhere near as popular as it was when the business first opened, when children would start the hobby and continue it into adulthood, said Demis. "Stamp collecting was huge back when the Ferrises started this business,” said Geoffrey Demis, a partner in Ferris Coin. "We still get calls all the time to sell stamps, but not as many to buy stamps."
While the average stamp collector is 70 years old, coin collecting spans all age groups but is nowhere near as popular as it once was, Demis noted.
"There are probably more people collecting coins on video games these days," Demis said, though he noted that the U.S. Mint's 50 states and National Park series of quarters have revived some interest in coin collecting. As an agent for the U.S. Mint, Ferris Coin can help those wishing to complete their state coin collections.
WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD
"There are a lot of people today who remember the 2008 stock market crash, who are interested in investing in gold and silver as a way to diversify their money," said Dozois.
Ferris Coin deals in both coins and bullion. Coins are minted with a denomination, while "bullion" is a term for gold or silver that comes in bars, ingots or round "medals," that is at least 99.9% percent pure. Bullion can be plain or adorned, but it does not have a recognized face value.
By law, the government has to put a denomination on all coins but some newly minted coins are worth far more than their face value as currency. The 2017 $50 1 oz. Gold Eagle coin, for example, is literally worth its weight in gold, which is currently trading at about $1250 per ounce.
$50 gold coins are not used as currency today, but some older coins still are found in circulation that are worth more than their face value. Wheat pennies from the 1940s and 1950s are worth a few cents. The value of a John F. Kennedy half-dollar depends on the silver content, which varies by minting year.
"Some people turn in silver Kennedy halves without realizing their true worth," Demis said. "Then other people go to the bank and ask the teller for rolls to sort through at home, looking for silver or valuable varieties or errors."
When a coin is "mis-struck," it is more valuable. For example, a nickel might be struck on a dime planchet or a quarter struck on a nickel planchet. Paper currency can have printing errors as well, all of which make the items more rare and collectible.
"The number of minting errors has dropped as technology has gotten better," Demis said. "It's a treasure hunt."
HOW THE BUSINESS WORKS
Ferris Coin has several revenue streams. Ferris Coin buys and sells rare coins to collectors and other dealers. Along with that, the store offers coin collecting supplies and literature.
The business also buys "scrap" gold, silver and platinum -- which comes in many forms including common coins still in circulation, flatware, holloware and jewelry. Ferris then sells its scrap in bulk to refiners who make new jewelry and other precious metal products.
"We make money on scrap if gold goes up between the time we buy and sell. If gold goes down we lose money," said Dozois. "You gotta move on. You can't hem and haw."
Finally, Ferris Coin does appraisals. Both Demis and Dozois are experts coin appraisers.
Earlier this year Ferris Coin partnered with James Naughter, a gemologist and expert appraiser of jewelry. Naughter entered the industry in 1984 after obtaining a Bachelor of Science Degree, Graduate Gemologist diploma and subsequent additional gemological training in London, UK. He appraises jewelry, gemstones, watches and silverware.
JEWELRY REPAIR, RESALE
In addition to appraisals, Ferris Coin will purchase jewelry for resale, repair or recycle.
The newest Ferris Coin staff member is Brian Bucher, who founded Brittany Jewelers in 1987 and served as president from 1987 until selling the company this June. Three years ago, Brittany Jewelers moved from its Colonie location to Glenville.
"It's great to be back in Colonie," said Bucher, who now heads the Ferris Coin Jewelry and Repair Department. "We acquire older jewelry from estates. I will be reviving the best of that jewelry for resale. Our focus is on diamond engagement rings and wedding bands."
Bucher said his offerings won't match what one would find in a traditional jewelry store, but there are unique items at great pricing.
DIFFERENCE WITH PAWN SHOP?
Though Ferris Coin buys and resells items, it is not a pawnshop. Pawnshops in New York State are required to hold onto items for a certain period of time and offer a buy back program. When people "pawn" an item, they usually put their item up as collateral against a small loan with the intention of buying back their item with interest at a later date. The staff at pawnshops are generalists by necessity, but they are not necessarily specialists when it comes to evaluating items.
"Pawnshops deal in everything. Our specialty is in coins, gold, silver and jewelry," said Naughter. "We're not in the business of pawning, but we will probably offer a better outright price for those items than a pawnshop will because we know their true value."
ABOUT THE NEW SPACE
Real Estate Agent Daniel P. McCarthy of Coldwell Banker Prime Properties
Architect: Capital Architecture Tony D’Adamo
Project Manager: Daniel McCarthy
General Contractor: Peachtree Builders EJ Ball
Security: Capital Security Daniel Woodard
Phone system: GraceCom Communications Garret Claffey
GRAND OPENING & SEEKING "COIN ARTISTS"
Though customers can visit the shop starting next week, the Grand Opening celebration for the new Wolf Road location of Ferris Coin is scheduled for Nov. 1.
Later this month, Ferris Coin will announce an art contest for a coin-shaped medal honoring a special figure in Albany and world history. The medals will be for sale in a bras version and a limited silver edition.
More details about the grand opening and the contest will be forthcoming.