Michael Sprouse, founder and owner of River City Coins & Jewelry has been in business for nearly 40 years and is a pillar in the Cape Girardeau community. His inventory includes coins, currency, medals, and tokens from around the world, piquing the interest of both novice and advanced collectors alike.
Michael began collecting coins at an early age. He received his degree in Economics and Business Administration before becoming a banker. After graduating from two banking schools and working in a bank for 10 years, Michael made a career change, turning his hobby of coin-collecting into a profitable small business. Following the birth of his daughter, Michael and his wife moved from Memphis to Cape, where they opened River City Coins & Jewelry.
Senior Media Manager Jessica Henrichs spoke with Michael to learn more about his involvement with NFIB and the challenges that he faces.
What is your business?
A: River City Coins & Jewelry is a retailer of coins, gold, silver, and coin-collecting supplies.
When was it founded?
A: We were founded in 1986 and became NFIB members shortly thereafter.
How did you become a small business owner?
A: I’ve been collecting coins since I was kid, which has become a lifelong passion. After I got my degrees, I worked for a bank in Memphis for 10 years. But I knew there was more to life than banking. I started dealing coins part-time. And then I got into the rare coins business full-time.
Shortly after our daughter was born, we knew we had to move out of the city. We moved from Memphis to Cape Girardeau and have been here ever since.
Rarest coin you’ve stumbled upon?
A: I purchased a double-struck walking liberty half dollar at an estate sale. It was extremely rare. There are only three that are known to exist, and it was the highest grade of the three. I only realized the value of it after I bought it.
How many employees do you have?
A: Me and my son right now. Have had other employees over the years, but right now it’s just me and my son.
Why did you become an NFIB member?
A: NFIB stands up for small business people. We need all the help we can get. It seems like there are always new laws and regulations being passed. NFIB keeps up with that and helps keeps the government out of our pocket and out of our hair.
In what ways has NFIB helped your small business?
A: It’s probably helped me in ways I don’t fully appreciate. I know it helps me keep an eye on what the government is doing and how regulations and bills could affect my business. NFIB is watching out for us while we focus on running our business.
We don’t have time to keep up with the changes. I feel so sorry for my accountant and my insurance agent – they’ve got a lot to keep up with year after year with everything changing all the time.
What’s the biggest challenge that faces local small business owners like you?
A: Taxes and regulations. My personal problem right now is that the city has allowed an outfit to rent the facility next to mine that attracts a rough crowd.
What advice would you give new NFIB members to make the most of their membership?
A: Read the emails and memos that NFIB puts out. Participate in the questionnaires. Be supportive of their efforts. As the saying goes, rising tides lift all boats. What’s good for my small business is good for all small businesses.