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MARKETING COMMENTARY Part 2 - An Interview with Bill Herzig of Herrick Stamp Company

NSN:  How is business Bill?


HERRICK:  No complaints at all. We are running even with last year in sales. Our average order is down a bit, but we have more participation from collectors


NSN:  Herrick Stamp Company is in touch with the market I know. But I have read that stamp collecting is losing popularity. American Philatelic Society membership is down and magazine circulations are also.


HERRICK:  There are plenty of collectors. The old mediums of newsprint and collector’s society are not attracting younger collectors.        


NSN:  Wassup (as they like to say)


HERRICK:  New collectors are seen in three areas that are not well serviced by the old media. Demographically they are young, overseas and female. Not necessarily all three at the same time, but these are words that describe many new collectors.


NSN:   What about Stamp Dealers


HERRICK:  Pretty much the same thing. There are more women becoming stamp dealers than at any time in my career. Our wholesale division Kent Research Stamp Company has almost 50% female dealer customers. New dealers are sprouting up overseas much faster than domestically.


NSN:  OK I get the new media versus the old media stuff. What about the base of collectors who actually belong to American Philatelic Society and who read Linn’s Stamp News?


HERRICK:  Linn’s is part of Amos Press and along with Scott Stamp Monthly and their websites, they would seem to have all the pieces in place to grow the hobby.  This year we eliminated our advertising in Scott Stamp Monthly.


NSN:  Herrick Stamp Company still advertises in Linn’s Stamp News.


HERRICK:  Linn’s Stamp News and the American Philatelic Society are the bedrocks of American stamp collecting. We have run over 4000 consecutive advertisements in Linns since 1946 and hope to reach 10,000 advertisements someday.


NSN:  Herrick Stamp Company has a popular website. What kind of action do you get?


HERRICK:  Herrick website is very user friendly and has a wide listing of stamp offers. Our most used feature is the new issue stamp offers. These are posted every two weeks with all new stamps illustrated. Because the Internet is dynamic and new issues are in effect news, there are always many lookers and buyers seeking information on new stamps from Herrick. The surprising thing to me is how many stamp web visitors are from overseas. Right now Eastern European stamp collectors are coming to our site in large numbers. They have money (credit cards) and they want stamps. They want topical stamps.


NSN:  Herrick has long supported Global Stamp News with its advertising. Will you continue?


HERRICK:  Herrick Stamp Company and Global Stamp News go together from the very beginning. Jan Brandewie, editor of Global Stamp News was my advertising representative when she worked at Linn’s Stamp News. When she left to start her own paper I was very supportive and helped her in any way that I could. Today she stands on her own and she has a fine publication. In many ways Global Stamp News resembles the Linn’s Stamp News of the 1970’s era. It is large size, has many full-page dealer advertisements offering to sell stamps and has a positive approach editorial policy. I think Herrick and Global will be working together for many more years.


NSN:  Herrick Stamp Company is known for its new issue stamp service. What are collectors buying today?


HERRICK:  Herrick Automatic New Issue Stamp Service is the keystone of our business. We have thousands of new issue stamp subscribers who give us their standing order that we fulfill on a semi monthly basis. We wrote a proprietary computer program to handle all the individual requirements our collectors have in their new issue stamp standing orders. We tested it for 12 months and I think it is by far the best standing order system in the world. Our customers think so too.  Some customers order from our website and from our bi weekly mailed new issue bulletins.


NSN:  Which new issue stamps are the most popular?


HERRICK:  The unusual attracts attention. Recently we had a CD ROM set from Bhutan. Austria has had many innovations including crystal and soccer ball stamps. Scented stamps (chocolate was my favorite) and shaped stamps are popular. The South George Chinstrap Penguin shaped souvenier sheet is wonderful.


NSN:  A few years ago unofficial new issues were a subject of many newspaper articles. How does Herrick handle these?


HERRICK:  There are over 10,000 new stamps issued every year and sometimes it is hard to identify those that are issued by a post office or by an agent or just by a rogue dealer. We try to know who our suppliers are and to trust them. Sometimes a regular supplier can change his ways. A few of these issues have crept into our inventory over the years and they are surprisingly popular because of their topical nature. We identify these and call them either Fantasy issues, or Cinderella issues or Montero issues. These are all terms used to signify what we believe may be an unofficial issue. This way the buyer knows what they are looking at. Scott catalogue has the same problem that we do in this regard. Sometimes they list issues they have to eliminate in future editions of the Scott catalogue. On the other hand they decide to list issues that they omitted in prior years because they did not know the pedigree of an issue. We try to work with Scott and other catalogues to get new issue stamps properly identified. In any event, most of the issuers of these controversial stamps over the past years have stopped.


NSN:  Topicals appear in many Herrick Advertisements. What thematic stamps are people looking for on the Herrick Stamp website?


HERRICK:  Trains, flowers, mushrooms butterflies are the most popular. When you take a topical and add a novelty element to it such as a scented stamp or a shaped stamp or something unique; then you have a runaway best seller.


NSN:  Bill Herzig, Thank you for your time and insight. Any closing thoughts?


HERRICK:  Yes .I visited the National Postal Museum in Washington D.C. and came away impressed.  Alan Kane has done a marvelous job there and I can see this Smithsonian museum as a magnet to attract new stamp collectors and to revive the interests of experienced philatelists. I became a member of the National Postal Museum and hope many of your readers will too.

Contact's: Rob Moelis of National Stamp News (NSN)