Military Trader: And finally, the question we all want to ask the experienced veteran collectors, such as yourself, “How will Third Reich collecting change over the next ten years?”
Bill Shea: I do believe the internet will continue to play a vital role in spreading the word and keeping collectors informed and networked. Periodicals like Military Trader still serve an important purpose to those of us who still enjoy having something in hand. The feel of turning those pages and having something to read on the “throne” still works.
I have two main concerns about the future. One is the age of my customer base. I believe the average age of my customers is 60. Many are over 70 and few are under 30. If this trend continues and we can’t attract younger people, the future of the hobby is not bright. Certainly, there are more people getting out of the hobby than are getting in. That’s why whenever I have the opportunity to interact with younger customers, I try my best to spend as much time as I can with them. I don’t care if they are buying or not. I sincerely enjoy answering their questions and trying to stimulate their interest in history. It must be the teacher in me even after all these years.
The second big issue is the fakes. There is a definite correlation between the quality of the fakes and price. The more expensive the item, the more effort the bad guys will use to clone the item. Remember some of the points I made earlier in this interview and take them to heart…Knowledge is power and seek out the good guys.
Thank you for taking the time to ready this full interview, and I hope it has brought some insight on the collecting hobby!!