By Jesse Robitaille
While the April 4-5 National Postage Stamp & Coin Show was cancelled, organizers with Trajan Media – publisher of CCN and Canadian Stamp News – decided to bring the bourse online that weekend.
It would’ve been the ninth National Postage Stamp & Coin Show since Trajan acquired the rights to the National Postage Stamp Show from the Canadian Stamp Dealers Association five years ago.
Instead, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trajan hosted a virtual show for the first time ever using Facebook, which has nearly 1.7 billion active users. Using Facebook’s Groups feature, Trajan managed a virtual bourse for its spring show dealers, who were invited to post material for sale starting in early April. Only the spring show dealers, about 20 of which participated, were allowed to post material for sale (although the public was encouraged to post wanted requests).
On April 4 at 9 a.m., the bourse “opened” as Trajan allowed the collecting public to enter the group, which is located at facebook.com/groups/virtualNPSCS.
The more than 350 people who joined the group offered dealers “a new market without all the work and costs associated with a real bourse,” said dealer Nick Cowan, owner of The Coin Collector in Ajax, Ont.
“Great move,” added Cowan, a long-time dealer specializing in Canadian decimal coinage and paper money, Maritime provincial coinage and silver bullion.
“We have had a lot of interest and sales.”
While there was a slight learning curve in understanding what types of posts Facebook will allow – some posts offering currency for sale are rejected – “the rest was easy,” said Cowan, who’s a past president of the North York Coin Club and the Etobicoke Mississauga Coin and Collectables Club.
“In terms of impressions, all was good. We had an average of about 50 views per listed item. We did have some completed sales and did manage to get some website traffic and some follow up phone and email responses.”
‘ROUTE TO SUCCESS’
Cowan sees Facebook Groups as one of several new avenues for both dealers and collectors to stay connected during the pandemic – and into the future.
“Using a new platform to reach customers, both new and current ones, is our route to future success,” he said, adding there’s a potential for cross-promoting future virtual shows with Trajan’s biannual National Postage Stamp & Coin Show.
With the virtual show-goers coming from far and wide across the Internet – including Trajan’s social media followers – there were plenty of new faces for dealers to interact with.
“Having the pull of CCN contacts was indeed a bonus,” said Cowan. “All your clients available to us for free – what’s not to like about that?”
After Trajan cancelled its show in mid-March, there was little time to plan and prepare the virtual show to coincide with the original dates of April 4-5. The hurried setup, which took place over the course of just a week, left some dealers hoping for more time to prepare for the next virtual event.
“As we all become more accustomed to using digital platforms for sales, as will the buyers, this will and really is the way of the future,” said Cowan, who added he believes club meetings will remain strong “but shows will definitely take a further hit.”
“As long as we can get the correct exposure for a ‘for sale’ item, I, for one, would be quite content to abandon all the small shows, attending only four or five of the big ones each year.”