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How To Recruit Young People?

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Posted 06/27/2021   6:19 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add FrimerkeHansen to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
In my country, Norway, there is most old to very old people collecting stamps.
I tried to contact the local club to offer them some giveaways for young members, but the youngest member was 49...
Anyone with experience in geting younger people interested, so this doesnt die with us?
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Posted 06/27/2021   8:37 pm  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
This hobby long has been comprised of older people, certainly for at least the last 75 years. I have previously posted an image of a 1960s APS meeting with about 60-70 people and virtually every person was 50+ years old, there was not a young person among them. Then, as now, folks were saying the lack of younger people was an issue.

In my opinion is a fallacy. Genealogy has very few young people; it too is a hobby/interest that seems to become more attractive as you get older. Philately is not a flashy hobby; you cannot really strut around with your collection under your arm to show off. Philately is less strenuous than many other hobbies so it is well suited for older adults.

I think for our hobby capturing 'younger' folks means 40-50 year-olds. Looking at the people who join here and on Stamp Smarter and it is clear to me that this demographic is the real low hanging fruit. They have mostly established their family life, they have the means, they are able to carve out a bit of hobby-time. At most I think that at best we can plant a few seeds with the <25 people, but do not expect to convert them into life philatelists.

At my local club meeting last week; one of our members turned 99 and he just renewed his driver's license. Feeling benevolent, the club gifted him a free life time membership!
Don
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Posted 06/27/2021   10:38 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Feeling benevolent, the club gifted him a free life time membership!



Agree with the fallacy suggestion,
At our local town fair, I donated 4-5 Kgs of stamps, and they all disappeared.
There are kids out there, whom collect.
It is a silent / quiet hobby, you either feel it, or not.

The most popular hands-on stand was the Lego table.

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Posted 06/27/2021   10:48 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

One way you may wish to introduce stamps to kids..
"Random acts of kindness"

Make up some colourful glassines, (Trucial States?)
Mark "free for you"
Visit your library, and slip them in amongst the pages of
adolescent titles.

Or, ask if you can leave free packets at the desk.
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Posted 06/27/2021   11:00 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add classic_paper to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Well said. Philately only needs people new to the hobby, not young people to the hobby. It's a hobby that requires diligence, perseverance, and most of all curiosity. The staggering output of philatelic research over the past 150 years is testament to that.

Sports card collecting has been taken over to a degree by flashy nonsense: words like "investing," "flipping," "make a fortune," etc. It's all shallow and hollow, but it gets hits on YouTube and podcast streams. Numismatics has a large contingent of gold-bugs and "buy bullion because the end is near" types, which is loud but hasn't drowned out the traditional fields (ancient/medieval, early modern, etc).

It is very rare to find a 16 year-old interested in perusing a copy of "The Inks of De La Rue & Co. and Their Introduction of Synthetic and Aniline Ingredients c.18501910." It takes years, really decades, to find something like that to be of interest. But there will always be people who find it to be of interest, and that is what matters.
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Posted 06/27/2021   11:34 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add RXC to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I suspect that many people who "come to philately " in middle age had some exposure to stamps in their youth. In the 1950s and 1960s many department stores had stamp supplies and both kid's magazines and adult magazines featured numerous ads for "100 foreign stamps" for 10 cents, with approvals of course. Most young people collected for a while and then lost interest, others may have continued to collect sporadically as other life needs arose. Once the mortgage is paid and the kids are through school we all have a little more disposable income. I still believe that exposing young people to stamp collecting is to the benefit of the long term health of the hobby. I would guess that the younger kids would find topical collecting more interesting. It may take a long time before they become interested in watermarks and paper types.
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Posted 06/28/2021   03:58 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add hy-brasil to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Agree with RXC that the initial bug happened and will happen early in life. The many millions of kids that collected in some way back when eventually reduced to thousands of adult collectors. Pretty normal, I'd say.

But what will compel any adult to take up stamp collecting in later life if they have no history of collecting anything, much less stamps? How do they even get exposed to stamps as a collectible? Online advertising is directed nowaday. There are very few stamp shops around today to possibly pique some passerby's curiosity. Working in stamp shops over the years, I've never (never!) had an adult come in to say they wanted help in starting stamp collecting. Coins, yes. For stamps, it was an adult who was often already collecting that wanted to get kids in the family started. And that kind of customer was fading away in the '90s. Nonetheless, we do see and have seen adults inheriting old family stamp collections of any kind and picking up the interest themselves.

FrimerkeHansen, stamps will always have its collectors, which do include people just accumulating what they like on visits to the post office. At least some kids and classrooms still visit stamps shows in the US these days. If you want kids to be exposed to stamp collecting and really get interested, it's up to a now very small remaining group of people, perhaps including yourself, to help them do it.
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Posted 06/28/2021   05:03 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add FrimerkeHansen to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting thoughts here.
My 10 cents would be that it is easier to start or restart collecting stamps, if you already had an interest as a kid.
And when the physical stores are gone, I cant imagine young people stumble over an online store saying this looks cool, I want to start collecting stamps..
Maybe I should make some starter packs and give away?
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Posted 06/28/2021   05:36 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mirman to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have tried to interest my 3 children to collecting stamps but none of them is interested in it. As their families are growing, sometimes the money that would be needed to collect stamps is put to other use. People that are not collectors probably think that collecting stamps or whatever else, is a rich man's hobby. Philatelic clubs would need to set up a youth club to have any chance of attracting the younger ones to their meetings. Go to a stamp show and if there is a kids' table, the place is often times very busy. I'm also pretty sure that for a 10-year old kid, a presentation on the penny black or any classic stamp(s) would prove well very boring and way out of their collecting interest.
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Posted 06/28/2021   06:54 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add angore to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I also think the young generation are those in their 40's or later. At this stage, people that have a collecting gene (this can be anything) may be receptive to stamps if it ties into some other interests. I consider the days of a young person starting stamps is very very remote. There are far too many other leisure activities out there at that age.
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Al
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Posted 06/28/2021   07:45 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add StatesmanStamper to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
How do you get the message in front of young people?

When I was a kid I saw lots of ads from approval dealers (H.E. Harris, Kenmore, Jamestown, etc.) in magazines, not only in ones geared toward children but also in ones my parents read.

I could go into a local bookstore and buy a copy of Linn's that would open up a much wider array of dealers. A couple local department stores sold packets and basic supplies.

What would be an equivalent "interface" for today's youth?

Dale
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Posted 06/28/2021   08:37 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add cjpalermo1964 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
A story on Instagram or a TikTok video.
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Posted 06/28/2021   08:55 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jconey to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have exposed my four kids (now 16-29 years old) to it and two have shown some interest. Occasionally, they all help with my eBay stock and shipping too. One of them has a pretty decent collection going. Even though our family has been in North America since 1628, she found the family history interesting and that got her started on stamps from countries of our ancestry. Predominantly German, Irish, Swiss and Scandinavian.

I also managed to interest the the son of a co-worker in collecting. His interest was sparked by the countries his dad had been to while in the military.

Like some have already mentioned in this thread, A lot of people who get into stamp collecting in their mid-ages had their start as a kid. So I figure that's the best target market, planting a seed for later. I try to interest kids and usually try to tie it to events or circumstances they can relate to. In the distant past I also gave a few classes to local boy scout troops about cyber /web security and talked them into a classes for stamp collecting to help a few get their stamp collecting merit badge.
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Edited by jconey - 06/28/2021 08:55 am
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Posted 06/28/2021   09:27 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tsmatx to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I collected as a child in the 1980's, and now I'm in my 40's and have come back to the hobby in the past 2 years. In the 1980's, it was easy for children to collect--there were inexpensive children's albums available (HE Harris), lots of stamps in the mail which relatives would save for me. There were stamp ads (approvals) in magazines like Boys Life, and they used to have huge displays of stamp packets at toy stores. I think most of those factors changed in the 1990's and definitely by 2000's. Although there were a handful of other children my age who collected, I don't think I ever knew anybody younger than me who collected. Purely anecdotal of course, perhaps APS tracks data on youth collectors? In the 80's/90's sports cards were seen as much more exciting, and by far more popular than stamps, and I eventually stopped stamps to concentrate only on cards. Ironically, sports cards now have this same problem today (not enough youth collectors) and they blame it on video games and the internet.
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Posted 06/28/2021   10:28 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add classic_paper to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
What would be an equivalent "interface" for today's youth?

I'm not certain there is, but would be happily proven wrong.

Sports cards: billions of dollars in professional sports backing the hobby, so to speak. Athletes, television, online everything, clothing, snacks, etc. Easy for someone to become inspired to "collect" their favorite team, sport, etc. Easy to pick up, touch, and hold in your hand.

Books: people read, generally. It's not hard to find an author you like and want their collected works, or a nice binding, or an early edition of a favorite, etc. Easy to pick up, touch, and hold in your hand.

Coins: sometimes shiny (don't underestimate the attraction of shiny). If struck in a precious metal, there's that. Easy to pick up, touch, and hold in your hand. Always feels valuable, even when not.

Stamps: small, delicate. A mild breeze blows them out of your hand, wet or dirty hands damage them.

What kid mails a letter anymore? How many adults? And when they do, they're probably using a boring American flag forever stamp. People have free email with which to write each other instantly, so who needs to wait days or weeks for a letter? They have Facebook and Instagram to share pictures (so who needs postcards), instantly. Curious about a far away country? Learn about it watching an HD or 4K documentary on cable, or Wikipedia.

Ads in paper magazines? Cheaper and more convenient to subscribe to the online version, which will always be current and infinitely portable. Cheaper to advertise online, as well.

How many of you use TikTok? Snapchat? That's what you're up against, in attracting the attention of youth. For you Instagram and YouTube regulars, take a look at any of the tens of thousands of accounts and posts or videos about cards and coins, and join me in being simultaneously awed and repulsed by the colors, animation, and insane flash and garishness of anything not posted by Baldwin, Spink, or Stacks Bowers. That said, production values matter. And what they and Stanley Gibbons post on YouTube is, frankly, terrible.

Natural exposure to stamps by way of regular mail or the newsstand is endangered, at best. As for clubs, there's already a lot of discussion on this forum about the (real or perceived) problems with them (time, schedule, culture, etc).

My advice, for what little it's worth:

  • Join clubs thousands of miles away, even when they conduct business in a language you don't understand (Google Translate will take care of 90% of the problem). Make every club a global one.
  • Embrace technology. Publish a monograph using print-on-demand. Start a website or Instagram account and share your collection for the world to see (germanstamps.net is a perfect example). Take a short class on graphic design, writing, publishing, photography, and all the other things professionals use to make things look professional. Production values matter. Expand existing forums, start new ones.
  • You underestimate form over function at the hobby's peril. Want to dissuade someone from collecting stamps? Show them a shelf full of old or ugly binders full of stamps with no organization. Get away from the "it's fine because it works for me" mentality. You know who that mentality doesn't work for? The inheritors of your estate, when they throw out your collection or sell it for 5 cents on the dollar. And you'll never get a child, trained from youth to value things that are bright, attractive, sexy, clean, etc. to take up the hobby. Production values matter.
  • There is no excuse for a piece of philatelic literature to be unavailable or out of print to anyone who wants a copy. Sell it as a pdf. Recast it as print-on-demand. Doesn't matter. Every publication should be available from every club/society. The days of having three boxes of some monograph for sale and future buyers being SOL when those boxes empty is long gone.
  • Keep in mind that we are part of the hobby, not the hobby itself. There were collectors and researchers before us, and there will be more after. Do whatever you do with the mind that one day you will be gone, but in one form or another your collection and effort will remain.

Philately's future will be dominated by the past, like collecting 19th century Impressionist art or Byzantine gold solidi. Nothing wrong with that, but long-term don't think it's ever going to be a growing hobby. It only needs to be a vibrant one.
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Posted 06/28/2021   12:43 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add centerstage98 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
In the years I have been collecting, part of the problem was (and remains) some of the elitism of the hobby. There are a lot of influential dealers, leaders and collectors who just have no tolerance for new collectors (no matter what their age) or even intermediate collectors, of which I am and always will be.

It seems I have always had a limited budget. At stamp shows and bourses, as little as it may be, I spread my purchases around, spending with a various dealers. A dealer I had bought from consistently, though, one day really turned me off. I was spending about $25 on a stamp a BIG purchase on a single stamp for me and he actually trashed "that type of material" as I was handing him my money. Needless to say he's never seen another dime for me.

I have also seen philatelists scoff that I collect modern stamps or that I am not spending money in certain areas. Sorry, but I have many interests but they might not coincide with yours or your definition of philately.

I am encouraged by some very well-heeled and specialized philatelists whom I have met who truly understand that this can (and should be) a hobby for everyone. Kudos to the experienced philatelists who are encouraging in so many ways.

Oh, and please don't tell me that someone is a "serious" philatelist or has a "serious" collection because they have a big budget. I am just as serious about my collection.

As for children. You don't need to get them into postal markings, perfs and postal history. They will start figuring all of that out as they go along and build an interest in the hobby. Just stick to the idea of topical interests - countries, bugs, mountains, anime ... whatever it is. If they are old enough, invite them to watch for 5 minutes as you work with a group of stamps.
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