‘It was great’: National Show returns

Following a 31-month pandemic hiatus, collectors, dealers and exhibitors returned to the Greater Toronto Area this April for the first National Postage Stamp & Coin Show since 2019.

With most of Ontario’s pandemic restrictions lifted three weeks earlier, the two-day show kicked off on April 9 at the Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale hotel in northwestern Mississauga, Ont. An unexpectedly strong turnout saw hundreds of collectors come through the doors, where they were met by a 50-dealer bourse of philatelic and numismatic dealers from across the country, including as far as Vancouver and Halifax.

“It was great,” said dealer Roy Houtby, the owner of Roy’s Stamps in St. Catharines, Ont., who attends about 25 major shows across North America, including at least 10 national-level shows in the United States, each year. “Everybody we spoke to in Mississauga was quite pleased to be able to sit down and actually look at some stamps or look at some covers in person as opposed to doing it online. The vibe and the feedback we got from the collectors were very positive.”

While he has had booths at several major U.S. shows since last fall, Houtby welcomed the return to in-person events in Canada, where they were largely unable to take place until the lifting of pandemic restrictions this spring.

“I think it’s important for clients to be able to actually physically see the stamp or cover that they want to purchase, and it’s very difficult to get that same sense online – to hold it, to look at it, to observe it personally.”

Although he sends high-quality digital scans of material to clients “every day, it’s not the same as actually looking at it in person,” Houtby added.

“And you’ll hear that over and over again from collectors – that they’re really glad they can look at things – and sometimes, they might even reject the stamp in person. They might see something that they don’t quite like that they wouldn’t necessarily see online.”

As a dealer, he also prefers in-person shows because they open the door to closer client relationships.

“Shows are a very important aspect of our business, and I think one part of it is building that type of personal relationship that you can build with a client over a number of years because you do see him personally at shows all the time. I just don’t feel that you build that same type of rapport when you’re doing it online – just can’t happen.”

Longing for a major Canadian show to fill a more than two-year void, Houtby was happy to see this April’s show in Mississauga was “extremely well attended with a nice lineup of people waiting to get in on Saturday.”

“We were very busy – solidly busy – all day Saturday, and Sunday was a little quieter but still decently strong,” he said, adding most two-day weekend shows are slower on Sundays. “Overall, we were very pleased, and our sales were extremely strong. The people that were there were there to spend money, so that worked out very well.”

Another dealer, Peter Lim, the owner of Covers Only in Toronto, was similarly pleased with the turnout this April.

“It was a great and fantastic show with a big crowd, and collectors were buying and spending.”

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