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GeneralHow to succesfully maintain a fee-collecting site?

The Evje-Iveland pegmatite area has in several decades been wellknown for a number of fee-collecting sites.

Most of these sites are now abandoned, with only a few still open to the publicum.

The reasons for this are a subject in itself, but not something I want to discuss right now.

What I would like to ask is following:

-What experience do you have with fee-collecting sites in the past couple of years?

-What are examples of succesful fee-collecting sites and how do they operate?

-What are in your experience the most common reasons for fee-collecting sites to fail?

-Would there need to be a minimum number of fee-collecting sites in a certain geograpical area in order to be able to advertice for it in a wider area, or even internationally?

Looking forward to your thoughts and experiences on this subject.

Ron Werner
Evje og Hornnes geomuseum Fennefoss

6th Sep 2019 15:05 BSTBob Harman

I am, and have been, familiar with several fee for collecting sites here in the US Midwest for a number of years. My familiarity is NOT with those on large land areas requiring only experienced well equipped collectors wanting to spend days in the mountains or wilderness with ???? return on their time and investment of hard work/$$$.

My familiar sites all are associated with producing collector quality sedimentary type geodes.   And the Arkansas diamond mine site. Geode collecting here in the US Midwest might be "looked down upon" by some mineral collectors, but family time spent collecting quality geode specimens has long been a popular pastime and youngsters love it, some becoming true mineral collectors as they mature.
 In addition hi quality examples are, like all mineral specimens...........hi display quality.

Here are some general thoughts.    
Specimens at the site should be of a type and size that excites collector interest so you get a customer base.  
Specimens should be +/- reliably found and some, with searching,  should be hi quality. For families, finding examples should be safe, only requiring  moderate work.    Even in the wilderness finding good quality examples should come without frequent serious dangers.
The locality should be relatively easily traveled to (even in the wilderness very excessive travel might be a downside to some). 
In addition to the actual collecting site, the site should have a good infrastructure, including all roads, and  a shop where some examples are sold. The site should include ample very accessible parking, a snack shop, and clean restrooms.
The cost to collect and insurance liability paperwork etc associated with collecting should be modest, commensurate with the dangers of the collecting and what might expected to be be found.
Finally, those fee for collecting sites here in the Midwest have always been extensively advertised both in the media and by word of mouth and commonly are associated with collector festivals.

Best advertising in any and all types of fee for collecting sites is when collectors find good quality examples and want to return, also telling other collectors about the site. 

Most common reasons to fail include nothing being found, even after time and energy has been put into the collecting. Collector customer base then falls off. Other common failure reasons are that wilderness sites are just too difficult to get to or collect at. Despite liability insurance, claims are a real possibility with hikes in rates.  Even odd occurrences like adjacent unhappy property owners routinely harassing collectors has happened.

For family friendly sites, failure commonly goes along with lack of facilities or cleanliness.

Then you can also mention things like if the site is open year round or, if in high county, open only in summer, despite year round maintenance expenses. You can talk about vandalism and trespass collecting, resulting in mineral specimen losses, expenses, or insurance cost increases.
Lots of other stuff to think about.   Hope some of this helps!    CHEERS.....BOB

6th Sep 2019 17:01 BSTHolger Hartmaier

I agree with Bob's points and would add that reasons for failure include owners that only allow collecting on rock piles that have already been screened for specimens by the owners, leaving only lower grade or damaged pieces for the public; or owners that exercise a "right of first refusal" on any high quality specimens that are found on the property. Another example is limiting the types of tools, especially hammers and chisels, but not providing freshly blasted muck piles that the average person can search through to pick out pieces.

6th Sep 2019 17:37 BSTJolyon Ralph Founder

The first question is who is your target market? Experienced collectors or families? 
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