That is a relative question.
If you count dollars and cents only, there are a few very large dealers who make a healthy living from stamp dealing and they may even have employees.
Many stamp dealers are a sole proprietorship (they own and operate the business themselves). A few dealers may go into business with a partner. Sometimes the partner is a family member. Sometimes the partner is another stamp dealer. They operate the business together.
Many stamp dealers are not full time dealers. They are part time dealers, like me. That is, they have a normal day job. They do the stamps on the side to make some extra money. They are not depending on the stamp dealing as their sole source of income.
Yes, there is a profit motive in being a stamp dealer. Who wants to go into business and not make money? Many stamp dealers do OK. A few dealers will tell you that they are making less than minimum wage for the hours involved.
However, being a dealer has other advantages beyond just green pieces of paper.
For example, if I want to take time on a Saturday afternoon and take my kids to a movie, I can do that I donít need to request off work or speak to the boss. I am the boss. This usually means I shift my work to another time of the day or delay it until a different day. The flexibility to come and go as I please is not something easily had when you work for someone else.
There are things I can do while working on stamps. For example, I can listen to the news on TV if Iím doing some task such as sorting mint postage. Everything I do in the stamp business doesnít require my absolute 100% attention. I can listen to TV or carry on another conversation while working on some stamp tasks.
I canít find the exact quote. Somewhere I read a quote that went something like this: ďThe best part of owning your own business is deciding which of the 23 hours in a day you want to work.Ē That is very true.
There are some casual dealers who set up at stamp shows or sell over the Internet. Maybe they donít make a lot of money. But they donít invest a lot of time and they make a few extra bucks on the side. Dealing to them is more of a casual activity and they are not looking to make a living that way. There is nothing wrong with that.
As the owner of my own business, I make all of the business decisions. I get to decide what stock to buy and negotiate a price. I decide what publications to advertise at. I decide how to handle customer complaints. There is a bit of pride in running a successful business. The flip side is true too. There is a sense of loss if you donít operate your business well. Some days do feel like a 23 hour day.
Donít get me wrong. Making money is an important part of being a dealer. But there is more to it than just money.