Just how many stamp stores?

It’s been a well-known fact for several decades that the number of bricks-and-mortar stamp stores in the United States has been dwindling. At one point during the 1950s, according to Herman ‘Pat’ Herst, in his book, Nassau Street, there were almost 250 stamp stores on that fabled street alone; but the rising cost of rent, easy access to mail order and, later, use of the internet have shriveled the number of stamp stores to the point many collectors feared they’d go extinct.

Last summer, Jay Bigalke, editor-in-chief of Linn’s Stamp News, decided he’d try to capture a snapshot of how many stamp stores remained in the nation. At that point, Bigalke was aware of 46 stores. However, as a result of that story, reader reports began coming in and, as of December 23 2019, Bigalke now records a total of 84 retail stamp stores, located in 32 states. While this may sound a bit like sighting whooping cranes or bald eagles as endangered species, it is not.

The storefront of Richard Friedberg, a revenue dealer in Meadville, Pennsylvania, who still maintains a bricks-and-mortar location

This number, of course, does not include the many hundreds of full-time dealers who rely on stamp shows, mail order or the internet for their living. This is only retail locations and is not a reflection of the general health of the hobby. And, while this number may sound small, it is encouraging.

We’ll never see the large numbers of independent stamp stores we once had, just as we’ll never see a large number of book shops or music stores, but it’s encouraging to know that there are still entire stores dedicated to collectors coming in, browsing and purchasing stamps and covers.

Article by Wayne L Youngblood

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