I write a column, “Becoming a Dealer” for the American Stamp Dealer & Collector (ASDC) magazine. It’s a terrific publication put out by the American Stamp Dealers Association (ASDA). Randy Neil is the editor who does a fine job with the magazine. If you’re not a subscriber, you are missing out on one of the best publications in the hobby in my opinion.

Anyway, sometimes I get questions like, “But you’re a stamp dealer. By writing about this stuff, aren’t you giving away secrets and increasing your competition?” Not really. Let me explain.

First of all, I like to see people succeed. If they can become a stamp dealer and be successful at it, good for them. Running your own business is very hard work and I applaud those that are successful at it.

I like to teach. When I get comments from people saying that I was able to give them some advice that they found useful, that makes me feel good. I’m not going to change the world. But if I can contribute in some small way, then what I’m doing has some meaning.

I read books from Pat Herst and Pete Mosiondz about stamp dealing. Their advice helped me get started in the business. I feel like it’s my turn to return that favor and pass along some of my advice and stories to others so that they can learn from the successes and mistakes I’ve made. Trust me, I’ve made many mistakes. I learn more from my mistakes than I do from my successes.

Am I afraid of increased competition? No. Competition makes me a better dealer. It keeps me on my toes. If I didn’t have competition, then I could get lazy and give poor service and charge huge prices. If there is no competition, you’re stuck buying from me. Tough!

I watch what my competition does. Sometimes I find inspiration based on something they’ve done. Sometimes they make mistakes too and I learn from their mistakes. Competition is a source of strength to me. It’s not a threat.

Do I give away all of the secrets? No. Why not?

Many of the things I do are specific to me. There are few generalized rules that apply to all dealers. I try to give guidance, but each new dealer is going to have to find what works best for their particular situation. There is no golden rule that fits everyone. I can’t give you a set of instructions that says, “Do this and you will be a successful stamp dealer.” Those instructions do not exist. They never will.

For example, some of the material I buy comes from auctions. There are a set of auction houses that I deal with that I like a lot. However, the auctions I use may not work for everyone. And to be honest, it took me some time to find the auction houses that work best for me. That was a lot of work.

Will I tell a new dealer, “You should buy from the XYZ Auction company. They have great stuff!” No. As a new dealer, you got to put some sweat into this. I am not going to do all of the work for you. And just because XYZ works for me doesn’t mean it will work for someone else. My general advice is, “You should consider buying from auctions for some of your needs.” That’s general advice that applies to many retail dealers.

I want to help people succeed at becoming a stamp dealer.. What’s the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and he'll eat forever.” I can teach you some things about how to become a stamp dealer. I’m not going to do the work for you. If this was easy, everyone would become a stamp dealer.