Last year Philly Stamp Company moved out of Philly to a new home in suburban New Jersey. We moved out of Philadelphia seven years ago and center city now has only one stamp dealer- Alfred Capelli- whose signage boasts trains and hobbies as well as stamps. In the 1950’s Philly had over 20 stamp shops. There was Apfelbaum, and Philly Stamp Company, and Adelphi, and Georges Creed, and Christian Dull, and George Drasin and many more. Certainly there are fewer stamp collectors compared to the size of our population today than there were sixty years ago and so fewer stamp shops are warranted. But even before the Internet age, specialty retailing was increasing relegated to mail order. Rents and salaries grew and to have a high priced store front when only one passerby in a hundred had an interest in your product didn’t make sense. The magic shops closed along with the stamp shops in every city. The paradox of course is that today, despite virtually no retail stamp stores, collectors have constant access to far more material than ever before. And the market in economic terms is unusually efficient as collectors can easily compare prices and quality between vendors, something that was quite difficult to do in the shop era. Collectors get far better quality and value for their money today and dealers who are successful are doing it not by being conveniently located along someone’s route home from work, but by responding to their customers needs and offering good quality at fair prices.

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