Downtown London - News

September 2014

  • Forest City Coins and Stamps 50th year celebration!

    September 23, 2014

    Forest City Coins and Stamps 50th year celebration!

           

           The story of Forest City Coins begins long before the store opened its doors in September of 1964. Born in Halifax Nova Scotia, Keith Greenham grew up like most boys in the area. As was the case for many youngsters of the time, comic books and marbles were of keen interest. However, what set Keith apart from most of the other young boys was his knack for business. It was not uncommon to see Keith pulling his little red wagon loaded with his comic books around his neighbourhood. He would stop door-to-door asking the father of the house if he read comic books. Surprisingly, many of the men of that era did read comics and were happy to see Keith at their door. Keith would trade his comics with them, giving them a comic of their choice for two of theirs. His collection quickly grew, as did his interest for other collectibles. What started as a small comic book collection expanded to include coins.

     

           Keith’s father, Ivan Greenham, was a career serviceman with the Royal Canadian Electrical Mechanical Engineers (RCEME), stationed in Halifax. In 1952, Ivan was transferred to London, Ontario. Keith and his family moved to London where he attended high school at H.B. Beal. In 1959, Ivan was transferred back to Halifax at which time Keith continued his schooling at Dalhousie University. It was the buying, selling and trading of coins that put Keith through university. He would graduate with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. In 1964, after retiring from the Canadian Armed Forces, Ivan moved his family back to London to live permanently. As a recent graduate, Keith found it very difficult to find a job in Halifax. When his parents moved back to London, Keith followed and decided to start his own business. Forest City Coins and Stamps was born.


            In September of 1964, Keith opened up his store at the first location, in London East on Dundas Street. His stay there was short, lasting two years, before moving to the heart of the city downtown. Forest City Coins and Stamps moved to what was undeniably the busiest intersection in London at the time at 394 Richmond St., near Dundas Street directly across from the retail giant Simpson’s. Keith’s business and clientele began to grow.


           In 1969, his dad, Ivan began to mount military medals for his war buddies. He did such an excellent job that his reputation for workmanship grew, as did the demand for his services. This began a new chapter at Forest City Coins. This new business venture created the Ivan Greenham Medal Dept. that mounted military medals for veterans from across Canada. After Ivan’s passing in 1979, Keith kept the Medal Dept. running in London with the help of his wife, Jacqueline. Today, the Ivan Greenham Medal Dept. remains one of Canada’s premier medal mounting firms, catering to all of Canada, as well as the United States. In December of 1974, due to a shortage of space in the expanding business, Keith moved the store a block south to a larger location at 354 Richmond Street, between King and York Streets. Keith enjoyed many good years, strong sales and made many great friends through his business.

           As can often be expected, life can throw you an occasional curveball.  Keith got his on December 1, 1989.  At 2 o’clock in the morning, Keith received a phone call notifying him that his store was on fire and burning to the ground. He rushed to the store to see one of his worst fears unfolding before him. Keith’s lifetime of work, collecting and accumulating, was burning in front of him. While this may have been enough cause to give up the business, Keith never gave it a second thought and literally rebuilt the store from the ground up. In the interim, he rented the building next to his and moved next door the few collectables that survived. Within a week he was back in business. The building was rebuilt in 16 months. Keith was back in his old store buying, selling, trading, and accumulating once again.

           This is probably a good time to introduce myself.  I am Keith’s son, Ivan’s grandson, Andrew Greenham, also known as Andy. I am the third generation of Greenhams to have run this business. I had been part of the business, helping my dad with his shop for the past 30 years.  I have been running the store myself for the last 13 years and took over the business 3 years ago. 

           Today, we celebrate our 50th year in business!  Forest City Coins and Stamps Ltd., along with the help of the Ivan Greenham Medal Dept., is still going strong.  Aside from carrying the obvious collectibles, such as coins and stamps, the shop has expanded into a great mix of other things to admire.  There are artefacts from Roman times, gems and fossils, military memorabilia (such as badges, medals and uniforms), paper money from around the world, gold and silver bullion, and vintage comic books.  I, personally, find it most interesting that vintage comic books are considered the hottest collectibles on the market right now.  It’s actually quite fitting that what started many years ago, with my dad pulling comics around in his little red wagon, has come full circle today, with comics being an extremely important part of Forest City Coins’ business.

     

           All in all, with 50 years behind us, it has been a great run, one that I’m very happy to have been a part of and also something that my dad should be very proud of.  Going forward, I hope to enjoy the same success that my father has had, and I will strive to continue to keep Forest City Coins as “London’s most interesting store”.

           Between Oct 18-25th, 2014, Forest City Coins is having a 50th anniversary sale. Items will be up to 75% off and there will be free refreshments. I'm also hoping my dad, Keith Greenham, will be there for that whole week. That way he and many old customers and friends can be united once again and celebrate together. We hope to see you at the store soon.

     

    Andrew Greenham

    Forest City Coins and Stamps

    354 Richmond St

    Phone: 519-434-3355

    Email: forestcitycoins@gmail.com

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