Colleen Bennett - Sotheby's International Realty

Guys Like Coin Depot Owner Bob Earhart Are Hard to Mint

September 17, 2017
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The Coin Depot resides at 2240 D Street in La Verne.

The guy is money!

He not only attracts it, he’s literally surrounded by it. He’s has the Midas touch. He’s La Verne’s Lydian.

Eddie's Italian Eatery

For 31 years, he’s been the University of La Verne’s Associate Vice President for Advancement, helping the University raise some $100 million. When he entered the job, the university’s endowment was about $2 million, now it’s moving in on $100 million. It’s that kind of money that has helped grow the university into an academic powerhouse, serving some 2,600 under-grads on campus in La Verne and another 6,000 students across nine other Southland campuses, with an annual budget that has also grown from about $20 million to about $200 million.

But Bob Earhart is also the lifelong-learning owner of the Coin Depot, right across the street from the University. Indeed from his chair in the Coin Depot shop, he can look directly back out at the institution he has served for three decades.

Bob Earhart

So Bob can not only keep an eye on his primary career investment (not to mention the University’s), but also on the shop that he purchased in 2013 from the estate of Don Hauser, who had been the beloved owner of Coin Depot for well more than a quarter century.

The shop is loaded with loot. When it was liquidated after the passing of Hauser, the estate counted some $5 million in coins, stamps, and other paraphernalia, including one million pennies.

When two vans drove off as part of the liquidation process, they were stuffed to the ceiling with U.S. proof sets.

Long before Earhart had become the new owner of the Coin Depot, he had been a fan and customer of the shop. Mostly, he liked to collect Morgan Silver Dollars, coins minted from 1878 to 1904, and again in 1921. The obverse (or front face) shows off Lady Liberty, while the reverse depicts an eagle with wings outstretched.

Losing the shop and seeing it replaced with another nail salon or boba tea shop didn’t sit well with Earhart and a lot of others in town, so Earhart approached Kenny Schonfeld, owner of Warehouse Pizza in La Verne, just up the street from Coin Depot, about buying the property, with the agreement that Earhart would lease it.

“The coin shop was going to disappear, but nobody was doing anything about it,” Earhart said.

So the deal was struck, the shop’s name was retained (minus the Inc.) with approval from the heirs, and Earhart’s been running it ever since, rebuilding the shop’s inventory while also serving people in the community who want to sell an antique coin, stamp or other collectable items for some quick cash.

In Earhart and the Coin Depot’s two main employees, Craig Westfall and David Reynolds, customers can rely on them as honest brokers.

A 1921 Morgan Silver Dollar

“David is one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever run into, particularly in the area of  of foreign and ancient coins,” Earhart said. “He can look at any coin or stamp up here,” he added, pointing to the shop’s consignment board, “and give you a 15-minute lecture on the history, background, who the king was, who they succeeded and so forth.”

For items sold off the consignment board, Coin Depot takes a 12 percent cut. So if a coin, stamp or piece of jewelry sells for, say, $100, the owner of the consignment piece receives $88. Not a bad deal, since the rent space on the board is free.

At the front of the shop, there is also a bid board, where customers can bid weekly on various items for sale. The bidding ceases at 5 p.m. on Saturday, at which time customers learn whether they had the winning bid. The auction/pizza party, which features pies from, you guessed it, Warehouse Pizza, attracts about 30 to 40 people.

“Everybody who attends gets a door prize,” Earhart said.

Coin Depot is also family- and kid-friendly, according to Earhart, who is a father and grandfather himself.

“We don’t want to be just a place for old guys,” Earhart said, “so when kids come in, if you’re under 16, you get a free coin on your first visit.”

He’s also fond of handing out stacks of baseball cards. “We hand out a lot of them,” he added.

The more customers look around the shop, the more they begin to realize the store offers a great deal more than coins. With its antique dolls, cookie jars, sports memorabilia and other collectables, the storefront is really a depot or repository for all kinds of valuables.

There’s more than a doggie in the window at the Coin Depot.

Indeed, his employees Craig and David often needle Earhart, asking, “We are running a coin shop here, right?”

But because of the university man he is, he has a broad range of interests and passions. He trained as a seminarian.

“We almost function as a pawn shop,” Earhart admitted.

Sometimes Earhart will buy a whole household of furniture. Other times, people will walk through the door, hoping to sell him an item for gas or grocery money.

That’s the word on the street, “Hey, maybe Bob will buy it.” He’s even had guys come in who have said, “Give me $40 for it today, and I’ll buy it back tomorrow for $50.”

Of course, if the person doesn’t show the next day or day after that, Earhart knows the item’s inherent value will make him whole again when he goes to sell it. Remember, you don’t help a university build it’s endowment if you don’t the price of things. 

With Earhart’s buying binge, he can’t possibly keep all his growing inventory at the Coin Depot, so he owns a second facility in town out of which he stores the merchandise and runs a thriving eBay site, shipping valuables and collectables all over the world.

“We move about 15 items a day out of there,” Earhart said.

Under Earhart’s leadership and ownership, the Coin Depot is growing. And naturally, as a money center, it has the potential to attract all kinds of elements — not always the most honest or trustworthy.

For Earhart, that is not a problem. It’s no accident, that in addition to Coin Depot’s ubiquitous security cameras and panic buttons throughout the shop, the store is located within shouting distance of the La Verne Police Department, not to mention the shop enjoys a steady drumbeat of customers and window shoppers.

“We’ve always been this place to hang out,” Earhart said. “We’re the ‘Cheers’ version of a coin shop.”

People in the know simply like hanging with Bob.

To coin a phrase, “The guy is money.”

 

Buying, selling, investing in real estate? Contact longtime La Verne Realtor Colleen Bennett (Sotheby’s International Realty, BRE#1013172, Phone: 909.374.4744). Colleen is also the author of The Real Dirtt, a regular weekly column on all things real estate in La Verne and the greater southland. To find past and current columns, simply go to The Real Dirtt section of LaVerneOnline.com. Also found under Business on LaVerneOnline, La Verne’s No. 1 source of news and information in our community. 

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