By Woodard, Dale on July 25, 2020.
Not even a pandemic has slowed down business for Terry Burrill.
The president of TC Precious Metals Gold, Silver and Coin from Airdrie was in Lethbridge recently for a three-day stint at The Nest next to Honkers Pub & Eatery.
With the COVID-19 pandemic putting a hold on operations from March through May, Burrill was back on the trail, setting up in Lethbridge for three days of assessing items ranging from fashion jewelry and single earrings to coins with silver content.
Some of that time cooped up at home allowed people to locate a trinket or two around the house.
“People had three months to walk around the house and clean up,” said Burrill. “I’m seeing boxes and boxes and boxes (of items).”
Despite the three-month shutdown, business has been booming as Burrill treks across Alberta as well as spots in Saskatchewan and B.C.
“I had to sometimes go with a larger venue for the distancing aspect with a waiting area,” said Burrill, who has had stops in Vegreville, Camrose, Leduc and Redcliff before stops in Saskatchewan in Moose Jaw and Swift Current. “I will say, because of the advertising that is involved for me to be able to put a show on, my wife and I were really apprehensive about starting back up. A large part of my business is the seniors. The demographic has gotten younger, but I was thinking ‘Is anyone going to even show up?’
“I’ll tell you, it’s been some of the best, strongest turnouts ever. I’ve been to Vegreville and Swift Current for four years.”
It also, however, demonstrated another trend.
“When I look at that part, it’s what I kind of suspected, there are a lot of people struggling,” said Burrill. “People in this province have been struggling for years and I’ve noticed that in the last five or six years.”
Last year’s Lethbridge stop was Burrill’s second trip to the city.
“As a rule Lethbridge is too big a city for me,” he said. “I usually stay under 10,000 people, but I got calls from Lethbridge. People were coming to Nanton and Vulcan when I would go in the regional paper. So I thought I would try Lethbridge last year and it was good. It was a good, supportive turnout. This year has been really strong. People have been here before I even open. It’s been very steady there was a little bit of wait time for some people.”
Assessment of large estates has increased in Burrill’s line of work.
“That is something that has really grown in my business in the last four years,” he said. “Because when people receive an estate they don’t know what to do with it or they’re overwhelmed.”
Jewelry remains the popular item.
“It’s usually estate jewelry or jewelry that has been sitting in a jewelry box for a long time,” said Burrill. “A lot of it is broken, not used or it’s from a previous relationship. Then there’s the coins, there are lots of coins. I look for that collector coin first and I did buy one (on the first day). An 1874 Hawaiian quarter-dollar called a Kalakaua. It was in pretty good condition. The gentlemen and I looked it up and we came up with a price.”
Burrill does up to 80 shows a year, about 60 Alberta towns as far north as Slave Lake and Fort McMurray as well as 15 towns in southern and western Saskatchewan and four or five towns in B.C.’s Kootenay region.
He maintains a policy of keeping it local at each stop.
“What sets me apart from everyone else is I use your local papers, your local radio and a local venue (to advertise),” said Burrill. “Very seldom do I use a corporate venue. Every penny I spend I want it to go local and it’s very important to me because I’m the only Alberta company that does this.”
Still, advertising only gets the client through the door.
“But to keep that word of mouth you need to have a good experience for people,” said Burrill. “This is a big town, but if you take, for example, Vulcan, Nanton or Claresholm, if you had one customer that had a bad experience you would never be able to go back to that town. This is full-time and since 2014 I go back to these towns year after year.
“The people, they’re unbelievable, the interaction. This is what it’s all about. Sometimes you buy, sometimes you don’t, but it’s the experience. That is what I want, the good experience.”
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