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Coin, jewelry shop in business

December 14, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - A native of Hagerstown, Paul Miller attended school in Pennsylvania and later ventured to California while serving in the U.S. Navy. But a series of circumstances and a new career drew him back to Washington County.

That career is the buying and selling of jewelry, coins, watches and collectibles, with Miller first setting up shop in Hagerstown and more recently, in Clear Spring.

"I was in Hagerstown at 14 N. Potomac St. until May," Miller said of his business, which he continues to call Hagerstown Coin and Jewelry Exchange despite his relocation 12 miles to the west of the Hub City.

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Miller, 44, settled on Clear Spring because of an encounter with Carlene Staley, who runs a business out of her home at 166 Cumberland St. The Cellar offers gifts, cards, herbs and vitamins, as well as reflexology, nutritional and Reiki services.

"Carlene has some stuff she wanted me to sell," Miller said.

The discussion got around to sharing space at her shop on U.S. 40 just off Interstate 70 and a deal was struck.

A mechanic during his stint with the Navy, Miller worked on airplane crews and flew with the planes he worked on. "I got to park Air Force One once when Reagan was president," he said.

Miller said he also worked for Lockheed for four years.

In 1995, Miller met a jeweler named Brad Smith who got him interested in buying and selling jewelry. "He taught me the business," Miller said.

As a licensed jeweler, Miller can buy, clean, size, appraise and sell jewelry from his shop. He often attends estate sales and works with families to liquidate jewelry from an estate.

Smith also was a coin collector and Miller soon got into that sideline of buying and selling coins.

"My friend Brad had people in Baltimore who would bring him their coins to sell," Miller said. Coin sales also were held at hotels and malls, and Miller would go along as greeter and facilitator, so he learned that business, too.

"I became a foreign coin appraiser because no one else around was doing that," he said. "I taught myself from books."

Once Miller got into U.S. coins, he struck out on his own. "It's a growing field with the state quarters and the Morgan dollars, which are highly collectible now," he said.

When Miller appraises estate coins and jewelry, he can either sell them for the owners through his own dealer or he can buy them himself and then sell them in his shop. "I've also sold a lot over the Internet," Miller said.

Miller can search the Internet for coins that collectors want and can also price them for future sales.

While he was never into stamp collecting as a youth or an adult, Miller said he is thinking about branching out again because he sees a bright future there.

Miller's shop is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. He can be reached by telephone at 301-842-1313.

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