Del. License Plates Can Mean Good Money for Some Business Owners - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. License Plates Can Mean Good Money for Some Business Owners

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DOVER, Del.- Delaware is crazy about low number license plates - one-digit, two-digits, three, four or five digits.

"Low digit numbers for license plates in Delaware have always been a sign of significance, a measure of status, for drivers," explains Mike Williams, the Delaware Department of Transportation's license plate guru.

Sometimes really small numbers can be really big business.  License plate #6 sold for $675,000 back in 2008. Earlier this year #67 sold for $185,000.

But major, national-news-making, sales like those are few are far between.

People like Snookie Vent help facilitate the rule, not the exception, when it comes to tag sales.

Vent is a man obsessed with low-digit tags.

"It's something that gets in your blood, like being on a slot machine," he said. "I fell in love with numbers."

License plates cover his walls. They're decoration, because it's not the physical plates that are valuable in Delaware. It's the numbers themselves. And they are what Vent deals in through his web site, www.lowtags.com.

"People call up. I'll make a note of what they've got. I'll put it on the Internet."

"The web site is basically like a brokerage," said Paul Bradley, Vent's business partner. "We put buyer and seller together. It started in 2006 during I would say the prime part of the economy. So of course there's been ups and downs."

Their site lists at any given time dozens of available tags - ranging in price from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands.

Dave Wilson deals in numbers, too. His web site, though, lists tags he's already sold and for how much.

He says four digits can run $4,000 to $8,500. Five digits bring in $1,500 to $2,000.

"We just recently sold #404 for $55,500," Wilson said.

Also Wilson doesn't broker tags. He auctions them.

"I started selling them back in the 70s - the first tags that I sold. It just kind of grew from that," he said.

Williams says it's solely the market's decision what the numbers are worth.

"The state does not value the tags monetarily. Every tag from #4 to #999999 is the same to the state, to DMV," he said. "The state doesn't really have any say in this. It's all driven by personal desire by the residents."

That desire helps both businesses sell about 30 to 50 tags a year each.

"We require a percentage off of the sale of the license plate," Bradley said. "Five to ten percent. It depends.

"We just charge the flat 10-percent for selling them," said Wilson.

That means they make a few hundreds dollars here, a few thousand there.

"It's not a business you can do by itself I don't feel. But it's worked well for us over the years," Wilson said. "We tie them in with our regular auctions."

Grand scheme, the numbers don't bring in all that much money - especially now.

"For every call we get with someone wanting to buy one," Vent said. "There's three calling wanting to sell. Right now, times are tight."

So, for Vent and Bradley it ends up being about more than money - instead, perhaps, a story behind a tag.

"What type of vehicle it happened to be on twenty thirty years ago," Bradley said. "Or it has been family from generation after generation. I mean there's always a story. "

Sometimes it's the feel of a particular number.

"#194. It was a good number," said Vent.

And it's always a way to make a small obsession just a little bit more than that.

"We're into it because we like plates," Vent said. "If we can make a little money, we do. If not, we don't."

Click here to visit Vent and Bradley's site.
Click here for a similar site out of Wilmington.
Click here to visit Dave Wilson's site.

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