Who Am I?
My name is Christopher McFetridge, and I am a 46 year old Chartered Accountant, who left the accounting profession in July 2015 to become a full time dealer in the stamps and postal history of both Canada and Nigeria, as well as a philatelic researcher and blogger.
I was born on the Autistic Spectrum (I have Aspergers) at a time when little was understood about Autism. My parents were told that I would never finish high school, let alone attend university. But I am stubborn and through dogged determination and the support of my parents and many others, I not only finished university in the top 5% of my graduating class, but I built a successful public accounting career that culminated in my admission to the partnership at the firm I worked at, in 2012. But it became clear to me after a nasty divorce that public accounting was not my destiny. I was meant to be share my philatelic knowledge with the world.
Stamps were my life-saver during those difficult early years when my Aspergers isolated me from my peers, and during my divorce. I learned nearly everything that I know about the broader world from stamps, or from encyclopedias because something I saw on a stamp inspired me to look it up. Stamps taught me about cultures, places, landmarks, historical events, plants, wildlife, sports, artifacts and much more. I owe most of what I was able to accomplish in my life to this hobby, and my wish has always been to share it with as many people as I can.
So, in 2014 I decided to leave my career behind and take my resources and set out to prove that it is possible to make a living supplying stamps to collectors, to expand the reach of the hobby to include younger collectors, and to write and publish articles that anybody can read online for free. Eventually, I want to be able to spend all my time writing and sharing knowledge. But to do that, I have to build a business that can generate enough cash flow to pay the bills and pay the employees that would be required to run it.
What Am I Trying To Do?
I am trying to develop my retail stamp business to the point that its continued success is assured, so that I can devote more of my attention to philatelic research and publishing.
I have the inventory already. I invested all of my life savings and took on debt to accomplish this. But a critical part of being able to sell my stamps is being able to get them listed on E-bay and my own website. This is a tremendously labour intensive process. When I originally prepared my business plan in 2014, I thought 2-3 years would be enough time to list it all in my store, but it turns out that it takes, much, longer. If I could get it listed soon, then my continued success would be assured, and I could conduct more research and do more writing.
To hire an employee and pay them for a year as well as reduce the debts of the business, I need to raise $50,000.
Why Do I Need Help?
$50,000 is a lot of money. But to put it in perspective, my wife and I have already invested close to $500,000 of our own money, and we are close - real close to reaching our goal. But close doesn't always count in life, and I spend a lot of time worrying about whether my success will continue, and whether I will ever get all my inventory listed. I am currently working 70-80 hour weeks and I still don't have enough time to do everything that I need to do on my own. I know that if I can get help from a full time employee, that I will be able to get it done and that in all likelihood, I will fulfill my vision. The business right now is successful enough to pay the bills, but only if I devote 70-80 hours a week to it indefinitely. I need a push to get over the hump.
Why Is This So Important To Me?
The internet has made information widely accessible at the world's people, with minimal effort, and that is a wonderful thing. But, a person's curiosity still needs to be piqued to inspire them to seek out information about the world. A picture is worth 1000 words and pictures are a great medium to arouse this curiosity. Stamps are the richest and most effective visual medium that I know of that can pique a person's curiosity about the broader world around them: cultures, places, historic figures, events, flora, fauna, sports, art, archaeology and so forth. It is my experience that stamp collectors are more welcoming of diversity, and are more tolerant because of their exposure. Thus, philately truly has the potential to bring people of the world together and heal divisions. I believe this wholeheartedly. The study of stamps also helps hone analytical and detective skills, and is an excellent way to train the mind to pay more attention to minute details. It is for these reasons that I consider stamp collecting (philately) to be the king of hobbies.
It is also should be a much more accessible hobby than it currently is. There is plenty to collect issued during the past 60 years, and most of it is not too expensive. But unfortunately, there are very few retail dealers out there now who are both willing and able to sell stamps individually at retail from this time period. Most dealers and auctioneers tend to focus on serving the elite collectors only, or they will only sell less expensive material in large bulk lots. Also, there are very few online blogs of a specialized nature that can show prospective collectors and current collectors all the collecting potential and possibilities for detailed study that exist with this material.
This is where I come in. I have been a philatelist since I was 6, which is going on 40 years now. I write two blogs at the moment that I update once a week, every Tuesday. Between these two blogs, I have published well over 200 articles, and expect to write hundreds more. These blogs show collectors what can be done with Canadian and Nigerian stamps, and my inventory allows me to supply them with the stamps that they want at fair prices.
My motivation has never been money, nor prestige. It is simply the humble desire to study and share as much philatelic knowledge as I can, while serving the collecting community. Right now, I am focusing on Canada and Nigeria, but my expertise extends across the entire British Commonwealth. I could make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of collectors worldwide, if I accomplish my vision. Already, my Canadian blog has received over 100,000 visits in just over 2 years. With the demands of my business, I do not have time to write more than 2 blog articles a week, nor do I have time to blog about the stamps of other countries. Hiring an employee now would help ensure that I am able to build my stamp business to a point that its continued success is more certain, and I can turn my attention to conducting and publishing more philatelic research for the collecting world at large.
Where Can I See Your Work?
You can access my Nigerian and Canadian Stamp blogs at the following links:
You can access my e-bay store and see the standard of my descriptive work at the following link:
What Can You Do To Help?
I have set up a GoFundMe page, and if you can make a donation, it would help me reach my goal. Donors will receive a personal thank you letter from me and if you wish, I will arrange to send you periodic updates as to how the business is doing and will add you to the mailing list for one or more of my blogs. Donors will also receive one or more Canadian stamps issued the year they were born. These stamps will be in mint, post office fresh condition, and will be my token of appreciation for your willingness to help.
See the green link at the top right of this page for a direct link to my GoFundMe page.
Thanks again everyone!