It may seem that a background in technology would be relatively useless for a man running a coin, jewelry, and precious metals store, but Dean Warren of Wenatchee Coin & Jewelry says his prior experiences put him on the cutting edge of the industry.
“Self-taught technology is my background,” Warren said. “I sold computers before the Internet, I sold the Internet before anyone knew what it was. I sold cell phones before anyone knew what they were. I’ve always been interested in technology, so I’m pretty high-tech. Nowadays, it takes some technology to combat fraud when it comes to counterfeits. There is new technology that helps detect fake coins and other precious metals. In that regard, it’s a changing industry.”
Warren has a $500 scale to give accurate readings on weight. He uses new technology from Sigma Analytics that can detect if a coin is legitimate or counterfeit. He uses acids to gauge the validity of precious stones and is not afraid of shelling out money to provide his customers with the most honest and accurate appraisals.
Wenatchee Coin & Jewelry’s website says the shop can detect counterfeit precious metal, coins, and bars; can measure underneath the surface of coins and bars to test the metal in the interior; and can read through numismatic cases.
Warren, who has lived in Wenatchee on and off his whole life, recently “came back home,” after owning and operating a coin and jewelry store in Omak for four years and a brief stint in Texas.
Located at 2 S. Mission St., Wenatchee Coin & Jewelry boasts “fair prices for your gold and silver,” and that the store, “sells quality heirloom jewelry at affordable prices.”
Warren wants Wenatchee Coin & Jewelry to be recognized as more than a pawn shop and as a store as good as any in Seattle or Spokane. The store buys and sells coin, jewelry, and bullion, and has a secondary entrance for customers who prefer to remain anonymous or have large sums of money on them for transactions.
A devout Christian, Warren prides himself on his honesty with customers, oftentimes telling potential buyers to keep what they have because the value is too high. He said he will tell customers the truth 100 percent of the time, often to the dismay or elation of his customers.
“Sometimes, I will have a customer who comes in with something they found in their attic, hoping they will be able to cash in,” Warren said. “More times than not, I have to tell them news they do not want to hear. Other times, it’s the other way around.”
Above all else, Warren sees himself as an educator and an adviser before a businessman, a mindset customer and friend Jeff Kurpuis values.
“I’ve known Dean for about a year now, and I learn something new every time I walk in there,” Kerpuis said. “He’s a very interesting guy and a very good guy. I go in there every month or so just to look around at what is new and to shoot the breeze.”
Warren said for his customers to get the best experience at his business, he sometimes has to school them on how the business works and what the business can provide.
“I do teaching a lot to my customers because most of the time they know what gold and silver is but that’s as far as it goes,” Warren said. “On average, about once a day I have to go through a little education process because people come in and sometimes they’re afraid. They go online and see things that scare them with the types of money we have. So I try to help calm them down and tell them if they want to invest, I tell them what that word means in the coin and jewelry business. Gold and silver is not really an investment, it’s a saving, you see. That first person you talk to if they do a good job at educating you, then you can understand it, navigate, and make good decisions. When I have somebody coming in here buying something from me, it’s a once-a-year transaction. If I give them confidence in me, or what they’re buying, they’ll want to come back.”
Warren’s mantra is to do the right thing every time, sometimes at a cost. A prime example of this philosophy can be seen in Warren’s first business transaction with Kurpuis.
“The first transaction I made with Dean was for about $300,” Kurpuis said. “A day or so later, he came over to (Orchard Corset) for the equivalent of a $4 mistake. I would have never noticed it, and it was relatively inconsequential, but that’s just the kind of guy he is.”
Warren is a one-man show. One of Wenatchee Coin & Jewelry’s biggest obstacles is getting the word out to the community that his store is around. Open from Tuesday-Saturday, Warren has implemented many advertising techniques — including setting balloons out on the sidewalk of the shop — to alert potential customers to his whereabouts. Warren is confident once interested parties walk through the door, they will no longer seek other coin and jewelry shops.
A unique aspect of Wenatchee Coin & Jewelry is Warren’s adaptability and willingness to change. He said he understands that collectors from the 1960s and ‘70s may be few and far between, and sees the emergence of the Internet as the place where the new age of collectors focus their attention. While he hasn’t put a lot of time into reaching the Internet market yet, he sees his acceptance of credit cards as another benefit of his business.
“When I have a jewelry customer who is buying, they don’t ask, they just assume and hand me a credit card. Nobody else takes credit cards.” Warren said. “That’s not the way it used to be. I’m trying to be the place that is on the cutting edge, to change with the market of coins and bullion.”
In an age where collecting has shifted from collector shops to the Internet, Warren knows changes are coming and will be necessary. When the new wave of collectors walk through his door, he’ll be ready.