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Dave Olson, Published September 12 2011

It's My Job: Precious metals outshine coins at Treasure Island

Business profile

FARGO - Since 2001, Treasure Island Coins and Precious Metals has grown from a small coin shop with four employees to a business employing 25 people and helping broker multimillion-dollar deals in precious metals.

Chris Olson, 33, is part-owner and CEO of the business that was started by his father, Greg, in downtown Fargo in 1976.

Olson’s father and several other family members still work there.

What is the history of Treasure Island?

It was originally a metal detector distributorship. Over time, customers found lots of coins, and it became natural that people wanted to buy and sell coins there.

The downtown store moved to West Acres in the late 1970s, where it remained until 1998, when it moved to 19th Avenue and 43rd Street South. It moved to its present location in December.

What has been your involvement?

I was always coming around the store as a young kid. As a rebellious teenager, I took off when I was about 17 and went on a long road trip. Once I got that out of my system, I spent three years in the Army. I got out of that with a new outlook on life and decided I could help my dad. I discovered I had a gift for problem-solving and management.

Gold prices are sky-high. Has the market topped out?

I think we’re in the very early phase of what is going to be a long and protracted bull market in precious metals.

How much of your business is in precious metals?

They have always been a big component, and in fact, today it is the largest part of what we do. The coin part is very small.

Do people come in desperate for money and ready to sell family heirlooms?

Most people like that sold what they had a long time ago. People we see today are those who have stuff but never cared enough to do anything with it. With prices as high as they are, they want to cash in.

What kinds of things do you see?

It’s all pretty standard. Recently, a guy brought in a Hamilton Mint set of plates. One was pure silver and one was 18-karat gold. The plates had a Picasso design on them.

He had his original receipt from 1979, when he paid $1,200 for the set. We paid him $12,000. And that was for the metals’ value only.

Coins are only a small part of your business?

There are multiple companies within this building, multiple divisions that are focused on different facets of the precious metals industry.

We’re on a national dealer network.

When people sell us jewelry, etc., we can in turn offer them easier-to-sell forms of precious metals, like silver and gold bars that can be stored in our 1,000-square-foot, Class 1 bank vault.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

To submit an idea for “It’s My Job,” email businessnews@forumcomm.com.