The Family That Sells Gold to the Government (Federal Contracts)

November 11, 2012 in Coins, Collecting, Gold, Precious Metals

By Kathleen Miller on November 03, 2011 (Bloomberg Business Week

In 1973, Louis Oliari opened Coins ’N Things, a small storefront between a Dairy Queen and a hair salon in Brockton, Mass. His teenage son Mark had become obsessed with coin trading, and Louis, an engineer and a coin enthusiast himself, figured if he indulged the kid he’d eventually outgrow the hobby and go to college. “The whole idea was that I’d get bored and get this out of my system,” Mark, now 54, remembers.

Today, Coins ’N Things is the largest seller of raw gold to the federal government. In the fiscal year that just ended, the U.S. Mint, which has bars made into coins for collectors and investors, bought $1.86 billion worth of the metal from the Bridgewater (Mass.) company. Not too shabby, considering that Coins ’N Things and the Mint struck their first deal less than two years ago.

The family’s fondness for coins began when Louis Oliari was laid up with a knee injury and his wife gave him a book about coin collecting. Father and son began hoarding pennies from their local bank, assembling complete collections by decade. By age 13, Mark was attending trade shows. Then came the storefront. Business grew so quickly that after Mark finished high school, Louis let him trade coins full-time. It wasn’t long before Louis left his job at Honeywell (HON) to join him.

Several years later, Coins ’N Things expanded into the wholesale metals market, acquiring clients such as hedge funds as well as jewelers and manufacturers that use raw gold. That was Mark’s passion. His father preferred to help coin collectors and “had no conception of where this thing would go,” says Mark. “He’d look in our section where I’m wheeling and dealing, making probably 400 phone calls. He’d say, ‘Wow, you guys are probably doing three or four million dollars a year now.’ I’d say, ‘Dad, that is a good day.’”

Share Button

Comments are closed.

Translate »