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It's a gold rush to Grand Rapids-area coin shops
By Emily Monacelli | The Grand Rapids Press
Friday October 03, 2008, 8:46 AM

GRAND RAPIDS -- As the economy continues to shake, cashing in on gold is sounding better than ever to some.

And gold dealers are reaping the benefits.

So many people are rushing to buy gold the U.S. Mint last week temporarily suspended sale of American Buffalo 24-karat gold coins.

The demand exceeded the mint's supply and depleted its inventory, according to a U.S. Mint spokesman.

The value is good for gold, with the precious metal closing at $880.70 per ounce on Wednesday.

That has been good news for gold dealers across West Michigan, who are getting more calls about buying and selling precious metals than ever before.

Dan Diemer, of Diemer's Coins, Jewelry & Collectibles LLC, 4982 Plainfield Ave. NE in Plainfield Township, is getting 10 to 20 calls daily about gold.

Last year, he was getting about 10 calls a week.

People are seeking gold as an investment, a hedge on the market and to balance their portfolios, he said. Most popular are the American Eagle and Chinese Panda coins.

He recommends buying gold not as an investment to sell when prices go up, but as reassurance.

If someone encounters tough times, such as an illness or loss of a job, the gold can be cashed in.

"A lot of my clientele is very savvy on the market and what's going on with international and local markets," he said. "They don't trust the government with their money."

Globally, there's more demand for gold than what is being produced, said Al Annibali, owner of The Coin Shoppe, 1760 44th St. SW in Wyoming.

"People as a whole don't feel very comfortable with the direction this country is taking, so they're looking for ways to diversify," he said.

Because of demand, dealers are paying more for gold.So much more, in fact, that Chris Miner, owner of Holland Coin & Jewelry, 12465 James St. in Holland Township, does not buy gold unless someone walks in to sell it.

His store has been out of 1-ounce gold coins for two months.

"It's a huge increase of demand on any kind of gold," Miner said. "It doesn't really matter. People are buying any kind of gold coins we have."

Dealers typically buy gold under its value, and sell it for more than its going price. For the first time, Diemer said, he has seen mark-ups of $50 per coin.

Dan Pelak said he is buying gold and selling silver at his Wyoming shop, Accent Jewelry & Collectibles, 522 28th St. SW.

"There's been an everyday rush on people selling their gold simply because the times are so tough in western Michigan," he said.

Silver, which closed at $12.72 per ounce Wednesday, is easier to trade in smaller increments than gold, Pelak said.

While people eager to invest may be rushing to gold dealers, one financial adviser is urging caution to those considering a gold investment.

"They need to think through the process," said Bob Stark, president of Calder Investment Advisors, 96 Monroe Center NW.

"The whole idea of buying it is having it there when you need it most, and that's another trip back to the coin shop."

For people looking to buy gold, he has a suggestion: keep it as cash.

"Normally, when these kinds of concerns are out there, we're getting close to the end of whatever's happening, and we're getting close to the next phase," Stark said.

"People don't usually make a lot of money when they panic."


It's a gold rush to Grand Rapids-area coin shops

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