Nostalgia and Kindness Drive Mike Olsen’s Business
BAR HARBOR—Years ago, when he was just a little boy, Mike Olsen was on an outing with his grandfather. They passed animals in cages, one after another, and then Olsen looked down and spotted a Buffalo nickel.
“It just stayed with me,” he said.
Another time when he was somewhere between three and five years old, he was celebrating the Christmas holiday and a relative gave him a Standing Liberty quarter.
An active child, he was bored one rainy afternoon and his mom gave him a jar of pennies, telling him to count them and roll them and she’d take them to the bank and split the money with him. In those pennies, he found a Lincoln penny from the 1910s.
“It was a lightning bolt,” he recalled, “an absolute lightning bolt.”
That same lightning bolt and luck occurred as he searched for a place to host his business Bar Harbor Coin & PMX. He was walking down a Bar Harbor street, came across Melissa Hallett and told her that he was looking for a place for his business. She called him at home, told him about a store about to go up for rent. It was Bee’s, a Bar Harbor establishment at 56 Cottage Street for 36 years and a Bar Harbor mainstay for 150 before it closed November 30.
When Hallett called, he was only in his pajamas, but wasted no time throwing on pants and a hat and rushing to Bee’s where he talked to Deb Rechholtz. She told him she couldn’t lease it, but Robert Rechholtz could.
Don’t call him now, she said. He’s not on the island today. Call him tomorrow.
He started dialing the moment he stepped out of the store. The next day a deal was made.
“If I get my bills paid by being there, I’ll be happy,” Olsen said.
NOSTALGIA AND KINDNESS
A Massachusetts man by birth, Olsen and his wife moved to Wilmington, Delaware where he owned a successful coin store. They moved to Bar Harbor in 2013. “I wake up every day and pinch myself,” he said.
Coins are history, he said, and while they are just hunks of metal, they pass from human hand to human hand, designed and created by humans. “We go through life unaware of 90 percent of what mankind has produced,” he said.
Part of what humans have produced are coins, designed and etched and indicative of history and story.
“Stuff is stuff,” he said and then rubbed his hand quickly against the skin of his forearm, “but this is flesh and blood.” So many things are ephemeral, he said, and coins connect him a bit more to the past and its people.
They also connect him to the present and to the community he lives in. He said that doing right by the community is important to him in business and he hoped that opening the store will engender good will and good feelings in Bar Harbor. The dog lover, avid hiker, husband and father, and former U.S. Marine can quote Emerson (“The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons’) and give a detailed explanation Nixon’s delinking of the dollar from gold and its implications that’s worthy of a college professor. But there’s also a generosity of spirit, love of community and the resonating connections of the people within it that make it easy to see how he could retire at 52 from his successful coin business in Delaware.
He was a full-time coin and bullion dealer for 30 years. At his Bar Harbor location, he hopes to continue to help people with their numismatic and precious metal needs. “I am here to help you in any way I can,” his website reads.
He specializes in high grade type and key date coins as well gold and silver bullion products. Coins, history, community are his passions.
“My goal is to make every client a client for life through hard work, dedication and going above and beyond expectations,” his website reads. Part of that is holding any purchases that he makes for two weeks so that if people have a change of heart after they’ve sold him a coin, he can sell it back to them for the same price.
“Every coin, when you pick it up, has a story,” he said.
And Olsen knows that goes for every person too.
Bar Harbor Coin & PMX will have a soft open February 1, by appointment only. In April, Olsen will keep it open from 11-7.
Location: 56 Cottage Street, Bar Harbor
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