Business Profile: Hallenbeck Coin Gallery a family affair
Story and photo by Anthony Welch
After Tom Hallenbeck graduated from college in 1984, he set out to find a job in the banking industry and put his economics degree to good use.
Unfortunately, the Colorado Springs job market at the time wasn’t so great. So Tom took a part-time job at his father Ken’s coin shop Hallenbeck Coin Gallery.
“I started working for my dad part-time until I could get a real job, and now 34 years have passed and I’m still here,” Tom said.
He followed in his Ken’s footsteps, not only by following him in his coin business but purchasing the Hallenbeck Coin Gallery from his father in the summer of 2001.
Ken moved his family to Colorado in 1977. At the time, he worked as a curator for the American Numismatic Association.
“It was a lifelong dream of his to play with coins as a business,” Tom said.
But then Ken was laid off in 1982.
“He said, ‘Now what do I do? I’m in my 50s. Do I go back to the insurance industry? What do I do?’” Tom said. “He loved coins, so he started the shop with his own personal coin collection, selling his collection and buying and selling other things.”
Hallenbeck Coin Gallery, 711 N. Nevada Ave., has been in business since 1983. The shop buys and sells collectable U.S. and foreign coins and currency, both certified and “raw;” gold, platinum, silver and palladium bullion coins, rounds and bars; and gold, silver and platinum scrap jewelry, flatware, etc. The shop also does appraisals.
“We even buy gold teeth. An average tooth has 50 bucks worth of gold in it,” Tom said. “It costs a lot more putting in than getting it out. We buy a little of everything.”
Ken, 86, and his wife June, 85, still work in the shop part-time. Tom’s daughters have helped out in the shop here and there, and his wife of 28 years, Tiem, works at the coin gallery as well.
“After my father sold the business, then we really started expanding. We had to get on the Internet and have a digital presence. Even when gold buyers were coming into town, we had already been doing that for five years. We paid a lot higher than the gold buyers,” Tom said. “It’s been a fun ride. I don’t think it’s going to end anytime soon.”
A few interesting items the gallery has stumbled upon include the earliest-known Colorado Springs bank note in crisp condition. Tom also purchased an 1849 $5 Mormon gold piece.
“I love Roman coins and bought a really nice denarius of Julius Caesar,” he said.
Through the years, the demographic of coin collectors hasn’t changed much, according to Tom.
“Even kids today understand money. So we still get a fair amount of kids that come in and collect coins,” he added. “We see a lot of people who collect through their early 20s. Then that fades from ages 20 to 40, when they’re raising a family, focused on their career and buying a house, etc. Then there’s a resurgence around mid-40s.”
The most valuable items are those that have a story behind them, according to Tom.
“If it’s just a silver dollar, it’s just a silver dollar. But if you know where that silver dollar was, quite often it’s the pedigree of the item that drives the value,” he mentioned. “We tell people to write that story down so they can keep it and document it.”
Tom hopes to keep the business in the family. His son Spencer is a senior in high school and will be off to college.
“I’m hoping my son might become the third generation, but it’s hard to say,” he said. “You never know with kids.”
On any given day, the shop is often bustling with a lot of customers. So much so, six people are staffed to work up front, according to Tom. And every day is an adventure for the store owner.
“Every day is a treasure hunt. You never know what people save,” Tom said. “Every day someone comes in with something interesting. There’s everything from small accumulations to hordes of coins.”
For more on Hallenbeck Coin Gallery, visit www.hallenbeckcoingallery.com.