Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/7/2011 (3248 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The door is shutting on a Winnipeg store that was like a shrine for Manitobans who appreciate the true value of coins and stamps.
The North Main Stamp and Coin Co., 360 McGregor St., closes for good this month.
Owners John and Linda Richards said on Aug. 1, new owners will take possession of the building at the corner of Mountain Avenue and McGregor.
"It will be very sad to see them go. That's the last true coin and stamp shop in Winnipeg," Calgary dealer Dwayne Miner said Monday.
Miner said the trade has moved from storefronts to the Internet.
"It's a breed that's disappearing. The overhead is getting so big for coins and stamps and it's a very difficult way to make a living," he said.
"When Linda and John go, I doubt you'll see another one in Winnipeg."
Winnipeg is still home to coin stores and there are shops with stamp collections but none with the quality and history of the Richardses', dealers say.
Walking into their shop is like stepping back in time.
The plate-glass windows betray the bank it used to be. There are rows of albums and catalogues that give the place the feel of an archive. The pervading scent of paper and ink seal the impression.
"We've had people come in and ask me for library cards," Linda chuckled, as she and John shared memories they'll take away with the boxes they pack. Lately, there are more tears than laughs as word gets around to dealers and customers.
The Richardses spent decades trading stamps from 25 to 30 countries, including Canada.
In the 1980s, they sold two rare booklets that were imperfect trial runs for Canadian stamps. The two-cent stamps depicted profiles of Queen Victoria and her successor, King Edward VII, from 1900-03.
The two booklets, with 12 stamps per booklet, sold for $25,000.
The shop was a place for collectors to chat and check out new finds or trade pieces of their own collections.
"We put the pieces together," said John, for whom stamps are a lifelong passion.
Think history in the shape of a postage stamp and you get the feel for their fascination.
"It's been my hobby from the age of about five," he said.
"I had an uncle who was an avid collector and I picked up the bug from him," John said.
Added Linda: "And I married it."
In 1980, the couple's earlier store on Main Street burned down and their customers threw a dinner and dance at the Shrine House on Wellington Avenue to raise seed money to reopen.
The couple's prized stamps survived the fire in a 19th-century iron safe that was barely scorched by the flames.
The Richardses are not, strictly speaking, retiring.
Customers can follow them on the coin and stamp collecting circuit at seasonal conventions in cities across Western Canada. They plan to travel the circuit indefinitely.
Regina, Calgary and Edmonton are among the Prairie cities with stamp and coin collection conventions the Richardses will go to from now on.
"There's a coin and stamp show in Winnipeg every fall," said Linda.
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