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Silver Towne.

One of the country's top three dealers of coins and precious metals is located in Winchester.

"All that glisters is not gold..." but it just might be copper, silver, platinum or palladium (with apologies to Shakespeare). Whatever form that glistering precious metal may be in, you can buy, sell, or trade it at Silver Towne.

Silver Towne is in an unusual building in an unusual location for a nationally known and respected business with annual sales of about $60 million. It is located at the outskirts of the Randolph County seat of Winchester, a small town in Eastern Indiana about eight miles from the Ohio line.

This puts it about 45 minutes north of Richmond, about two hours east of Indianapolis. As Silver Towne founder Leon Hendrickson puts it, "In the coin and precious metals business, it doesn't matter much where you are, the people will come-- just like 'Field of Dreams.'"

Silver Towne is owned and operated by Leon and his son Dave Hendrickson. Still quite the family business just like in the beginning some 45 years ago, the present-day staff of 42 includes Leon's wife, Hamie, plus his daughter, daughter-in-law and sons-in-law, with grandchildren starting to make their influence felt as well. Many other workers are longtime employees.

The Silver Towne business offices and vaults, retail showrooms, plus some refining and assaying operations are housed in a two- story red brick mansion-style building with full Doric columns in front and bulletproof glass and sophisticated surveillance systems all around. The Silver Towne Mint is located a few miles away just outside Winchester, and Jackson Precious Metals in Jackson, Ohio--owned by the Hendricksons and Indianapolis coin dealer John Engle--rounds out the Silver Towne facilities.

To some, Silver Towne is a numismatic nirvana, with a toll-free 800 number. Some customers call every week, some even call every day just to see what new items might be available. Whenever they call and whomever they speak with, customers can be sure they are hearing the latest market-value influences, because every sales area is equipped with a display screen constantly showing the current Chicago and New York market prices of gold, silver, platinum and palladium.

There is also a screen showing the current Silver Towne price list, which is tied to the market levels. The market information is collected and relayed electronically from a satellite atop the Silver Towne complex. Any market price changes that occur are instantly fed into the Silver Towne computers, so that the customer price list is automatically recalculated up or down.

For the customer on the prowl for a certain type of object, the Silver Towne associates use their computers to offer a window into the shop of nearly every reputable dealer in the nation. Silver Towne is linked directly to three different computer systems listing hundreds of dealers--big and small--handling just about anything collectible, from coins and cards to slabs and bullion.

The Hendricksons believe that, in the eyes of their peers, they are among the top three coin and precious metals dealers in the United States. Both Leon and Dave also are members of the Professional Numismatics Guild, a select group of the top 300 dealers in the nation.

In the coin and precious-metals business however, being a leading company means much more than just how much you know, how much you sell, or how many items you have in stock. It is first and foremost a matter of trustworthiness--customers expect honesty in product value, quality and pricing as well as customer service.

Buying, selling, trading and evaluating coins and precious metals is not all that goes on at Silver Towne. Retail sales of a wide line of jewelry items are strong and growing. Silver Towne also handles a line of collectible gift items such as porcelain series by various makers, and money novelties. And newest to the retail operations at Silver Towne is the sports memorabilia shop--quickly becoming a mecca for serious card collectors and customers who want team emblem items.

Silver Towne retains a very strong mail-order business, supported by a worldwide mailing list of 125,000. Catalogs are sent out several times a year. An in-house shipping department prepares and ships an average of 250 to 300 packages per day. A small fleet of delivery vans is on the road constantly. Ads and advertising supplements in nearby newspapers help pull in customers to the shop and bring some peripheral business to Winchester and Randolph County.

Then there is the custom-design minting demand to be met. This involves the creation of commemorative or award bars or medallions imprinted with a company's logo or special message. This new facet of Silver Towne's business created itself by word of mouth and ballooned to 400-plus customers in 1992.

Silver Towne had quite a humble beginning 45 years or so ago, when Leon Hendrickson and his wife were doing some farming, driving a rural mail delivery route and operating a couple of skating rinks in Winchester. Then they bought the little Rainbow Restaurant on the town square.

Leon's attraction to collectible coins was merely a side interest as he watched the coins and bills going through the till at the restaurant. He soon realized he had tapped a strong vein of interest common to many customers, who responded enthusiastically by buying, trading and selling coins. And they told others.

Eventually, coin dealing on the side eclipsed all of the Hendricksons' other business ventures.

It was a windy Chicago day in 1989 that brought Leon Hendrickson big-time attention for his numismatic acumen. That was when he sold his 1804 U.S. silver dollar (in very good condition and one of only 15 struck) for $990,000. Just four years earlier, he had bought it himself for $500,000 and had intended to keep it in the family, just something special to pass along. Tidy little profit there, much more than might be made if it were sold today. Its current value is just in the neighborhood of $650,000.

What made him call the auction house to sell that rare 1804 dollar when he did? Unexplainable instincts, he says. "It just felt like the right time."
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Title Annotation:coin dealing company Silver Towne in Winchester, Indiana
Author:Huggler, Kathy
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Previous Article:Eastern Indiana update.
Next Article:It's in the can.

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