The Gold and Silver Mine - Past, present and future

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This week’s column is about Beachcomber Coins and Collectibles’ history and the change we are going through.

Our journey started in 1970, when I opened my first store in Brigantine in what is now the dining room of Yuki Hana’s Chinese Restaurant. I was only open part-time in the evening because I had a full-time job working for Atlantic Electric. The business was moderately successful and in 1973, when the Shore Mall was going through an expansion phase, I signed a lease for a store in the new addition.

I opened the new store in 1974, at the same time Steinbach Department Store opened as an anchor store along with the existing Sears and Grant’s department stores and Foodtown grocery store. Because I was still employed by the utility company, this forced me to hire the first of many employees.

As was the case in Brigantine, I only dealt in coins, stamps and metal detectors (the source of the name ‘Beachcomber’). In retrospect, the choice of the name Beachcomber was probably not the best, because it has caused confusion as to what my products were and where they came from. (‘Did you find all these coins on the beach?’)

As I said, this started the need to have employees run the store during the day when I was working for the electric company. In 1978 the need for a new employee caused me to hang out a ‘Help Wanted’ sign, which was answered by a young girl, Linda, who would ultimately become my wife. She’s still helping me after all these years.

1980 is when the first gold and silver rush occurred when two gentlemen, the Hunt brothers, tried to corner the silver market, resulting in silver ultimately reaching the price of $50 an ounce and gold $800 an ounce. In those days, lines formed in my store from the moment we opened and lasting until we closed.

When the rush was over, it became necessary to expand the line of products we offered. That’s when we added cards, comics, then ceramics and memorabilia, plus specialized toys. My favorite story is how I got into the business of selling trains and models, but that is a story best told in person.

Over the years, in addition to expanding our product line, we also promoted sports card shows, brought in such celebrities as Pete Rose, Steve Carlton, Phil Rizzuto, Catfish Hunter, and many others. Also, we grew from our original size of 1,000 square feet to our current size of 10,000 square feet, and in the process occupied a total of six different locations throughout the mall. We also have the distinction of being the store that has been in the mall for the longest period of time, almost 39 years.

But all good things must come to an end. Last year we were informed by the mall owners that their plans were to tear down the back part of the mall, leaving only Boscov’s, Burlington, TGI Friday’s and the front portion of the mall. After much searching for a new location and thinking about what we wanted to do with the business, Linda and I decided on downsizing to 1,600 square feet in our new location at 6692 Black Horse Pike, the old Wawa building just past the former Cardiff Circle. You might say we are going back to our roots: coins and precious metals, a business we have always been involved with.

As I am writing this article, we have just about finished the move out of the Shore Mall. My employees, Linda and myself have literally been working seven days a week to accomplish this feat, a task I would not want to do again. Our first effort is to provide our buying service, coins, gold, etc. and to gradually bring the rest of our product line on display. We hope you will follow us to our new location and we look forward to having you as our customers.

Douglas Keefe is the president of Beachcomber Coins, Inc. He and his wife Linda operate Beachcomber Coins and Collectibles, formerly in the Shore Mall, now located at 6692 Black Horse Pike in the old Wawa building just past the former Cardiff Circle. The also have satellite offices in Brigantine and Absecon. Between them they have over 70 years experience in the coin and precious metals business. They are members of The American Numismatic Association, The Industry Council of Tangible Assets, The Numismatic Guarantee Corporation, The Certified Coin Exchange and the Professional Coin Grading Service.

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