After my local club’s meeting was canceled because of the ice storm that hit the area, I was looking for a little numismatic fun. I started to look forward to the release of new George Washington dollar coins. As I thought about it, I remembered that NGC announced that they would slab new dollar coins with the designation of “FIRST DAY OF ISSUE” if the coins are received on Friday, February 16. So I thought… I am in the Washington, DC area, I should be able to find at least one roll—if not from a bank, I can visit the US Mint’s headquarters in downtown Washington.
Rather than sit in my office going over my current work assignment over lunch, I grabbed a sandwich and left the office to hunt for coins. After visiting two banks that are local to my office, I made the decision to drive downtown. I had no afternoon meetings and I could make up the work from home later that evening. After all, if anyone had the coins it would be the Mint… so I thought.
I made the turn southbound on 9th Street NW noticing that parking was particularly difficult because of the piled snow and ice on the side of the road. With the snow and ice in the way, there was no parking near the Mint’s offices. After circling the block a few times, I double parked in front of the offices.
After shlepping downtown, double parking, and stumbling across the iced road and sidewalk, I walk into the lobby of the Mint’s headquarters to purchase rolls from the sales counter. It was there I was told that rolls would not be available for another week at the US Mint’s sales counter!
I was shocked! I do have work to do, but I decided that wanted NGC’s “FIRST DAY OF ISSUE” designation for some coins. So I decided to go to Union Station. That is a high traffic area, they should have rolls. After negotiating daytime Washington traffic while congress is in session, I park at Union Station to navigate the maze of escalators, and find that the kiosk in Union Station had NO ROLLS! The woman at the counter was very nice and explained that the shipping was delayed because of the weather—which was predicted three days before it arrived. I was offered ONE coin, which was her limit.
Still not satisfied, I returned to the Mint’s headquarters where they have change machines in the lobby that dispenses uncirculated coins. There is a machine for the Sacagawea Dollar, the current state quarter, and a new machine for the Presidential $1 coin. I shoved as much money as I could in the machines to buy Washington Dollars. Since the kisok could not provide change of twenty dollars, I was able to buy 25 coins with the fives and singles in my pocket—14 from Denver, 11 from Philadelphia. I made it to the post office on time to send the coins to NGC via Express Mail.
During one minute visits to both of the kiosks, there were people visiting asking for rolls. While feeding the change machine in the Mint’s lobby, three people queued up behind me. If this was a representative demand on the first day, it would have been in the Mint’s best interest to have supplied their Washington-area kiosks with rolls. Instead, the Mint went with a marketing scheme that ignored the potential demand in their “home town.” Even the Mint’s director left the city for a launch event at Grand Central Terminal in New York City. If they cannot satisfy those interested where they have facilities, then how do they think they are going make this a success with the average consumer nationwide?