Nearly every aspect of buying and selling precious metals is joyful for Dennis Johnson, but there’s nothing quite as joyful as satisfying his customers.
“My favorite part is when somebody really thanks me, you know, a ‘glad I found you. It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.’ It’s nice. It’s nice to help people,” the easy-going Center Street Gold and Silver owner said, tearing up a little as he spoke.
The lifelong coin aficionado who began swapping paper money he earned berry picking as a kid for silver dimes and dollar coins, worked as a stockbroker and financial adviser before opening a precious metal exchange more than a decade ago.
“What’s interesting about my job is literally every week we see something we’ve never seen before,” Johnson said. “It’s mind-boggling that there’s so much stuff that’s been accumulated over the years. Different years, different products, different coins.”
Johnsons has his personal favorites, among them a Byzantine gold coin.
“When Constantine made Christianity legal, he put the bust of Christ on one side of the coin and then him and his wife on the other side,” he said.
But he says the real expert is his part-time numismatic guy who specializes in currencies, coins, collectibles, and precious metals, and helps Johnson evaluate everything from coins that come into the shop to the large estate collections they buy.
“He sees a coin and he can tell you who the die maker is,” Johnson said.
He’s currently remodeling and expanding into the other half of the building that houses his business after years of renting it out. The additional square footage creates space for Johnson to add an office and a dedicated area for estate appraisal.
“We’ll review anything that has gold, silver, diamonds, or precious metals in it. Collectable numismatic,” he said.
The appraisal office will give a space to appraise smaller collections privately, but he’ll continue making house calls for estates that are too hefty to travel.
“We’ve had people with vaults that don’t want to lug it here,” he said. “I get that.”
While customers might only think of Center Street as a place to buy or sell metals, Johnson also buys and stocks a small selection of previously owned jewelry in the display case.
“I especially like to keep wedding sets in there because young people will spend $3500-6,000 on a wedding set and they can buy it here for like $900,” he said.
But when it comes to selling heirloom pieces, Johnson says to hold on to the diamonds.
“If you think you’ll ever need a diamond, you just keep it. We can take it out, or you can get it professionally done because you’re never going to be able to buy it for what you’re selling it for,” he said. “We’re here to help people.”
Center Street Gold & Silver is located at 8879 SW Center St. in Tigard. Open 9am-4pm Monday-Friday, 10am-2pm Saturday. For more information, visit centerstreetgoldsilver.com.