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EPISODE 090 : 12/01/2022

Dean Jones

Dean Jones founded Encore Chocolates and Teas nine years ago because he and his wife were “bored being semi-retired.” After 60 years of working in all aspects of the retail industry, Dean and his wife decided to channel their love for chocolates and teas into this new retail adventure.

Host: Ned Hayes and Kira Cleveland
Guest: Dean Jones

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Topics discussed in this episode

  • Detailed small business insights from Olympia, Washington
  • Small business resiliency and adaptation during COVID
  • Doubling community outreach during the pandemic
  • Opportunities for small business loyalty programs

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Audio Transcript

Ned Hayes [00:00:00] Welcome to Spark Plug, where we talk to smart people working at the intersection of business and technology brought to you by Snowshoe, your smarter loyalty leader Spark Plug is excited to welcome Dean Jones to the podcast. Dean is the co-owner of Encore Chocolates and Teas in Olympia, Washington, an independent tea and chocolate store with a focus on providing quality goods at affordable prices. Dean has a vast and wonderful background in creating retail experiences and entrancing customers with books, chocolates, teas and all sorts of goods from the Pacific Northwest. We’re excited to welcome such an experienced retailer to the podcast and someone who has really driven the buy local movement in his corner of the Pacific Northwest. So it’s such a privilege to talk to you today, Dean. 

Dean Jones [00:00:48] Thanks. I’m glad to be here. I always enjoy talking about my business and about Olympia.

Kira Cleveland [00:00:53] Well, and we love your entrepreneurial spirit. Let’s talk about your early years as a founder of various retail businesses. What’s your history with retail and how did you come to know so much about retail? 

Dean Jones [00:01:04] My retail goes back 60 years ago when I first got into retail. I was working in Minneapolis for a company that sold auto parts and accessories and my mentor there in retail. After my interview with him and he was ready to hire me. His name was Mr. Rose and Mr. Rose told me, he said, there’s only one thing that’s important in our business and that is the customer. Without the customer, we ceased to exist. He said The clerk can be dirty, the shelves can be messy, but you have to take care of the customer. And that’s always been part of my philosophy in doing business. So I moved to Olympia in 1976 and my wife and I, the passions that we’ve always had was books. And so we decided to let’s open a bookstore. And so we did. In 1984, we started in a small space in Tumwater, which is part of the tomato policy area, and we were there probably for about a year and a half, then moved to downtown Olympia and then moved into the Carnegie Library building, which was an absolutely ideal bookstore. The book industry was going through massive change at that time. We were going from books. I became was an art at one time changing from that. Amazon was just coming on and the big box stores are taking over. And finally, I decided in 1997 I was tired of working 80 hours a week as a nonprofit. My wife and I decided to consult on the book industry, which we did for about 12 years. And we worked with small publishers and authors and booksellers throughout the country, which was a great experience. But then I got tired of traveling and stuff like that, so we decided that we knew that bookstores needed something to sell our books other than just books at that time to be competitive. So we started packaging and private labeling things for small bookstores throughout the country. But I’m quite an extrovert. I love to interact with people. And so I was stuck in the back room and I said, This isn’t what I want to do. So I was having lunch one day with a good friend and some buildings downtown, and every time I was in the store, we’re in. So we ended up in the chocolate store. So Sandy looked at me and said, Why don’t you open a 20 store? Perfect little place for you to do that? So my wife and I are and Carla, my partner in business, said, Why not? So we’ll do it as a part time business. So we did. And nine years ago and November of 2013, we were there three or four days a week, and that’s not what the community wanted. The community wanted this to be there full time. So we did that. We got five days a week and then finally we outgrew our space. We only had like 400 square feet and another good friend owned a building downtown. And he came to me, he said, We’re moving into my building. And I said, okay, Steve, that’s fine, we’ll do that. So we did, and we were there for about three months and he decided we needed to add staff. We added our first staff. This would have been probably 2015, two years after we’d opened, and we have continued to grow from that point. We now have a staff of 10 to 11 people. We have expanded our chocolate section space, became available within our building. So we have a chocolate side to a serenity side to our store craft. Chocolate has exploded recently, and so we’re fortunate that we have around 500 different craft chocolates and many other sweet things outside, and we have anywhere from 400 to 450 teas, which continues to grow. Might interest you that the younger generation are not as big of coffee drinkers as they are tea drinkers. And so we’ve seen a change in our demographics recently. Our demographics have got much younger and younger customers buy a lot of tea, and so we’re having a good time. I get to interact with them. We know that people feel kind of disconnected from each other and we have that. Unity within our business to connect with them by just sharing. I like to tell stories that you can tell. I tell stories about our product. There’s a French word culture war, which means food in place that we go to farmers markets because we like to connect with that grower. We want to know something about where that food came from. And so I like to tell stories about our key distributors, our chocolate companies, so that when you go to take a bite of that chocolate bar, it’s not just a bite of chocolate. It’s a bite. You understand where it came from from the very beginning. So it ended up in your mouth. And that’s the same thing with teeth. So we work hard with customer service. We work hard on telling stories to people and connecting with them, and it definitely is paid off. Our businesses thrive. We’ve grown during the COVID era. We actually our business tripled in business during that time, which was amazing. And we’ve had great support from the community of Olympia, and we totally love being in downtown Olympia. It’s a great experience. 

Ned Hayes [00:06:02] Wow. Well, you mentioned something that’s really critical. There are that sense of food in place. And I’m curious about the location of your business. You’ve talked about the business moving, but I’m curious if you’ve seen changes to the business as you’ve moved to different locations. 

Dean Jones [00:06:18] Our locations have been very close to each other. Not really, except that we’ve had more customers and we’re in a very unique building where a building that has an atrium in the center. We actually have a true large magnolia tree growing in the center of our building. And in the summertime it is this great shape and so very unique. And just a little sidelight, one of our claim to fame for our building in the late eighties and early nineties, this building brand was just a terrible pit of a building and there was no front door at that time, a bit bricked over, which came in the side door. That was a nightclub called the North Shore Surf Club, October 11th, 1990. This was the first place that David Grohl played with Nirvana was here. In fact, if you go to YouTube and you put in David Grohl Olympia, you will see three videos of him at 20 years old, pounding away on the drum, shirtless with his long hair. And at that time, he was living with Cobain in Olympia on Pearl Street. And that’s why they did their collaboration on that first album. They did. I’m not a big fan. I’m not a big Fighters fan, but I am a fan of David Grohl. I mean, he’s a fantastic musician, and we’d love to have him come back here sometime. Little gig here at our store. So who knows? Maybe sometime in the future that will happen and it’s worth a shot. 

Ned Hayes [00:07:39] Well, you did mention shifting demographics, so who knows? Maybe he’s a fan of Keith, but could you tell us more about how you’ve seen people’s tastes in time shift for both chocolate and for tea? You seem to really have your finger on the pulse of that. 

Dean Jones [00:07:52] Yeah, well, let’s start with chocolate until you have tasted it. Craft chocolate. You do not know what chocolate tastes like. What I mean by that, the craft chocolate makers, most of them go through a 14 step in making their chocolate. They start with the bean, they do their own roasts and they do all their own processing. And they are able to bring out flavor notes and chocolate that they huge, huge what we call the industrial chocolate companies aren’t able to do. They’re passionate about it. They’re like the craft winemaker, the craft beer maker. And I treat fine chocolates the same way. You don’t chug a fine wine, you don’t chop fine chocolate, you let it melt on your tongue. The little bites you get, the flavor notes develop. And when people finally do taste of chocolate, they go, My goodness, I didn’t know chocolate tasted that way. As most of the fine chocolates have anywhere from 2 to 4 ingredients that don’t have all the other junk in there. So they had a chance to be on my soapbox for a minute. Big thing within the chocolate industry is that what we deal with is slave labor and chocolate. It’s a huge, huge problem out of Western Africa. 20 years ago, the big industrial chocolate companies agreed to quit buying the cow from that part of the world, especially from the Ivory Coast, while they’re still doing it because it’s cheap. There are some positive changes kind of happening right now. But our little companies that we deal with, nobody buys slave labor, chocolate, even idea what the problem is. The Ivory Coast are right now in the coalfields, 30% are a third of the labor force of kids under ten years old. So it’s a huge, huge problem. So the craft chocolate industry not only is making the fine chocolate, they’re very ethical in what they’re doing and treating their workers and so forth. The tier isn’t quite as extreme as with the chocolate areas, but excuse me, we work really hard to make sure that our distributors that we work with the most, the more direct source. And what we mean by direct source is when these are where the distributor or the. Chocolate producer, the chocolatier goes into country and actually works with their growers so they know exactly what’s going on in the fields. And that way we know that ethical labor practices are happening. Workers are being paid a fair rate. They’re not being abused. They have good living conditions, etc., etc.. And so the craft chocolate industry and the smaller key distributors are making sure that that happens. 

Kira Cleveland [00:10:25] That’s fantastic with all the wonderful chocolates and teas you have in your shop. Before we take a moment, let’s pretend we’re standing in your store, which is honestly where I’d love to be right now. I’m craving chocolate. What chocolate bars would you sell to us right now or what teas would you pitch? How would you like it? 

Dean Jones [00:10:44] I get the question frequently. What is your favorite chocolate? I honestly have to answer. It happens to be my favorite chocolate. Whatever I’m eating at that moment because everything gets on my show, I taste before it goes off the shelf. If I don’t like it 99% of the time, the difference of the shelf. Once in a while my staff has an argument with me and I agree finally with something that’s been my favorite. But what I like to do is find out where your taste buds are. And I ask you, what type of chocolates do you like? Do you like dark chocolate milk? Chocolate. Dark milk. Chocolate. Vegan chocolate. You like chocolate? Sort of plain something and then whatever. And then we can go from there. Then I can suggest things on the tea side, very similar type of things. Do you like teas with caffeine? You like herbal teas, different things. And then I can suggest things. One of the things that I will share with people, sometimes one of our biggest selling chocolates. And so the last two years, our biggest selling chocolate has been about 60% cacao, dark chocolate with avocado and rosemary. And people look at me and say, I’ll cut rosemary. And that was my first response when the chocolatier called me and said, you know, I have this chocolate bar, you’ve got to bring it in. And I said, John, I can’t bring it in yet because I haven’t tasted it. You have to you have to trust me. It’s fantastic. And I asked him what it was and he told me, oh, my God, what did you put that in your chocolate for? Said, way to taste it. So we brought it to the first customer who bought it. One bar came back the next day and 11 of them I said, Why are you buying so many of the sparks? She said, I paired it with a medium red wine. It was a sinful experience. And she said, I’m having people over tonight for a wine tasting that I wanted to share them with. And so since that point, we sold hundreds and hundreds of this large and at a young person come into the store one day. And I was telling you about this particular bar that was paired with light. So she came back and the next week she looked at me, said, I’m really mad at you. I know you’re mad at me about it. I went home, took that talk about my bottle of wine. My parents were all together. I drank the whole bottle of wine and started the next morning with the best hangover. So those are the fun things that happens. But we have a lot of vegans that Olivia we’re very fortunate that our small chocolate companies produce a lot of big chocolate’s all good dark chocolate, some vegan, some people don’t like dark chocolate. So we have vegan milk chocolates. We have vegan white chocolates, we have vegan Rice Krispie bars, we have vegan caramels, we have vegan marshmallows, we have vegan fudge. So we have all sorts of things that are being done that way and they’re all good. And I have tasted some really bad vegan. It takes at least 15 different carnivals, and some of them are really the ones we get for our company in Salt Lake City. That’s done really well. But again, it’s. As my mentor said, listen to your customers. Listen to what they want. Knowing your product. Knowing stories about your products. Knowing where it comes from. So you can share that. And that’s a terrible thing. So people know that connection that when you’re eating, you have a culinary rosemary bar. You know that Sean Asciano seasons Eskimos Chocolate was in-country in Tanzania working with that person who grew that cocoa and knowing that person and providing daycares for the kids on the plantations and doing empowerment workshops and profit sharing with their growers. Also, you know who shot is that? You have the connection and you appreciate what he does and that’s what we look for all the time. And that also that they can share that connection with myself or my staff. So they’ll come back in and say, it’s been there or it’s Erica there or Is Katie there? I’d like to talk to them. So it’s really important to us. That is the point. 

Kira Cleveland [00:14:51] That’s amazing. It’s sort of like chocolate. Somalia is okay because that. 

Dean Jones [00:14:57] And do I taste bad chocolate? Oh, of course. I give it one other little story and then you can ask me some more questions. There’s a small chocolate company in Singapore called Fossa. 5 to 6 young people. I think at 25, they’re doing some really unusual chocolates. They do some great tea infused chocolates, but they sent me a sample of a white chocolate that I want to taste it. I never read the label before because I don’t want to know what’s in it. I want my taste to pick it up. I could not figure out what was in this chocolate was the greatest tasting ever had in my life. So I had some of my staff and taste like smoked salmon. I said, No, it doesn’t taste like smoked salmon. So I looked at the label they had infused in it raw fish, sort of fish raw this chocolate. And it was not one that ended up on the shelf, by the way, but it’s a big seller in Singapore and the same company does one that we sell quite well that’s infused with dried duck egg powder. And so duck. How could that? Because it’s really mixed white chocolate. Or if you know what durian fruit is, we have this during fruit and we have a whisper sprouts that we have, you name it. The young craft chocolatiers are eating chocolate. 

Kira Cleveland [00:16:14] So can we play for a sec? Because this is very fine. I love your expertize. So if I came into your shop, I’d love for you to recommend a chocolate for me. I’m on the market, so if I know I like dark chocolates, but I love to kind of go through this process with you. 

Dean Jones [00:16:29] Sure. It’s dark chocolate. Do you like straight dark chocolate or chocolate with something in them? 

Kira Cleveland [00:16:35] These days I’ve been enjoying something in them. 

Dean Jones [00:16:37] Okay. How dark is the dark chocolate for you? Is it 50%, 80%? 90%? 

Kira Cleveland [00:16:44] Let’s see. In the mid 70%, 7280s and I get a little too dark for me. 

Dean Jones [00:16:49] But so you like spicy chocolates? They like spicy foods. 

Kira Cleveland [00:16:55] I do. I do like spicy food. 

Dean Jones [00:16:57] How spicy is spicy for you? 

Kira Cleveland [00:16:59] I like kind of a medium spicy. Like a lot of times kind of that kind of builds or just kind of warms the mouth. That’s that’s sort of my jam. 

Dean Jones [00:17:08] I would recommend there is one I would recommend that before. And I have to tell you about this other chocolate stuff by my small chocolatier in Central Point, Oregon. His name is Jeff Sheppard. Jeff was one of our first Northwest Craft chocolate makers in the late nineties, early 2000, just as a follower of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead that had from the word go. But he has a chocolate bar that’s called Do Not Eat This Chocolate Bar, and it has every pepper in it, including some ghost peppers. And I can only take little bites of it. And he makes a fantastic wine when you taste it. The first thing that’s happened, you taste this great chocolate, and then there’s your taste, which is, wow, you feel in the back and you throw it and it dissipates rapidly. So when we first opened our store and this is what I would be telling you at the time, all Windows Store in Olympia, we were sampling those chocolates one day and the gentleman came in, he said, I can handle any type of spicy food. So he took a great big I said, You don’t want to take a break. No, I can handle well. He did that and his face started to turn red and he got the hiccups. The bad part about it was he had tickets for the Performing Arts Center, which was across the street. The hiccups were so bad he could not go to the store for medicine. 

Kira Cleveland [00:18:23] You know. 

Dean Jones [00:18:25] There is the chocolates that you’re asking about that you were like, there’s a small company in, of all places, Dubai. It’s called Amazon. And they make a Kashmiri chili chocolate that is done extremely well. There was another one on warm. Utah, again, was one of the founders of the craft chocolate, which uses a mango chili. So that gives you a free chili. So either one of those two would probably fit your palate really well. The mango chili like fruitiness. As to the Kashmiri chili, if you want to see more of a real spice to it. They’re both done really well out of the one in Dubai. Just makes marvelous chocolates. We also have that I would walk over and show you some of the other things to do. Like they have a date that’s been infused with different types of chocolate. They have a orange peel that’s the best orange peel chocolate I’ve ever had dipped in certain types of chocolate, but they’re fake. They actually did about three years ago for Ramadan, and some of the figs even had actual gold on the figs edible stuff. So and those are always big sellers in holiday for us. But starting with I would move you to the milder ones and then suggest that sometimes if you have a brother or a friend that you want to light up their tastebuds and not tell them. After we sell a lot of them to brothers and sisters, I’m going to give this to my brother and give them a little piece of it without telling them how spicy it is. It’s a lot of fun to do that, by the way. But also the Do Not Eat My Mind makes it a great base for you too. It’s just a great Malay base. So you have all the spice in the sense of really fine, I have to add more chocolate to of course, because otherwise it would be a little tough to do it, but it’s really fun with the sell. 

Kira Cleveland [00:20:12] All right. Well, I need to come up and visit soon. I’m hungry already. 

Ned Hayes [00:20:17] You have such a great way of selling and of creating an experience that you’ve given us just now. I’m curious if you could give advice to younger retailers. What would you tell them? What would you tell them to focus on? 

Dean Jones [00:20:31] Get out from behind the counter, get out on the floor with your customers, interact with them, realize that if they weren’t in there, you’re not going to be in business tomorrow. And the only reason they’re coming in there, yeah, you’ve got to have a good product, don’t get me wrong. But the other reason, a lot of places sell, a lot of places sell teas. Why did they come back to our store? Because they said it’s an experience. We appreciate them coming in there. So if I could develop a retail store without a counter, I would do that because one of the things, even with new staff members, it takes a while to train them. People like to hide behind the retail counters. They just go behind their checkout counter. You walk into any store, I guarantee you the majority of the staff is going to be behind that retail counter. So get out from behind your counter, get out onto the floor, interact with your customers. I guarantee you, if you do that, you’re going to be successful. Of course, you need to have a good product. You don’t want to be selling chocolate that tastes like whatever or tea that is not good or ethically produce or whatever you’re selling and know your product, know things about food that you can share with people because people want to know today what they’re eating, what they’re consuming, how is produced and so forth. Customer service number one. 

Kira Cleveland [00:21:52] Number one, absolutely. Well, speaking of customers and the consumer, what consumer behaviors do you encourage? Which consumer behaviors help you to continue to grow as a business in your community? 

Dean Jones [00:22:05] Word of mouth is extremely important to us that when a consumer comes in, when they leave our store, that they tell their friends, they tell their neighbors. That’s one of the things. And also that consumer will start to realize the importance of local products, the importance of small companies, the importance of price doesn’t always mean something. For example, I have a tea that sells for $15 an ounce. To me that’s a very expensive tea, but that particular tea, I can take one serving number and brew that 7 to 8 times. So you can restate five times. You don’t throw the techniques away. That’s the first time that you count with herbal tea, but real fine tuning you can. So if you look at the cost per cup in that it’s as inexpensive as 70 to realize that we want our customer to experience those things and so that they can come back to us and say Thank you, thank you for introducing me to this. That happens all the time. Thank you for telling me about this chocolate, so that type of thing and also other ways to bring customers into the store. Customer loyalty programs are important, but what a lot of people don’t realize, the customer loyalty programs aren’t free. And what I mean by that as a retailer, to be involved in the customer loyalty program where I’m giving somebody a 10% discount or 15% discount or some free goods, somehow I have to recoup those costs. And the way recouping those costs is my prices are going to be a little bit higher because of that program we’re working with that it’s a little bit different situation at that point at this point. But we want to be able to have customers be loyal. And we want to have a work. How can we do that to keep our cost? And right now, today, because of what’s happening in our economy, costs are critical. We as a retailer and we as a small business are seeing our costs going up extensively really quickly, the assurance everybody has. I’m very fortunate that my little small companies, when there’s a price decrease, they decrease our price so we can decrease it to our customer and so forth. But it’s become a really challenge this year to be able to maintain to maintain prices without having to raise them. And will we see that change? I think probably by second, third quarter of next year, we’ll see those start to come down. But it’s a challenge right now. And so it’s kind of a challenge for this holiday season for all retailers. We’re not quite sure how the public is going to react less discretionary money. So what can we do to help that consumer? We can get some special pricing on things. We can make sure what they sell is the best product they have. We can give them customer service again that they can in other places, etc., etc.. And my concerned about the economy, of course I am. I’m concerned about my I go grocery shop. I love to grocery shop, by the way. I go grocery shopping. And something I bought last week is $5 more this week than it was last weekend. Oh, my goodness gracious. You know, and so we want our customers come in and we want to give them the best price we can. We can give them for a good piece of good product. Customer loyalty is extremely important and continuing to work with you guys hopefully will make that work. 

Ned Hayes [00:25:32] So could you tell us a little bit about the Buy Local movement, especially as it pertains to your store in Olympia, Washington? 

Dean Jones [00:25:39] We’ve had immense support from by local, especially during the whole COVID epidemic. Our community has supported downtown businesses. The businesses who have been here for a length of time have all had really fantastic years. We did lose a few small businesses during that time, but most of that had to do that. They were shaky to start with and so they just didn’t have the capital or whatever it was to continue. We have a very supportive community and that’s what makes the difference. We have a community that supports their small businesses, that supports a great farmer’s market, as you know, and that we have what the second biggest farmer’s market in the state of Washington of in the place. We have small restaurants. We have places like Sophie’s Gelato, which is one of my favorites, a lot of places that makes it a lot on site. And so we have businesses that encourage people to come down and support local. We’re invested in the local community. We support our nonprofits. We work with the city of Olympia. We work with the Washington Performing Arts Center, our theater, Northwest Ballet, anything that we can get involved in. And most of our downtown community does that. And our banks, we have a lot of local banks that volunteer that are totally vested within the community and the buy local thing. So I think we’re unique in some respects because we do have that pretty local support. But I also believe that that can be created by letting the community know that we need them and because we want to exist. And if they want to be a city in big box stores, that’s what will happen. So so I know we are a great community and that’s why I choose to be downtown. Two years ago, I signed a ten year lease on my building. Let’s see how big. I’m trying to calculate that I’ll be about 86 when that leases over 87, but I plan probably to still be here part of the time because our customers are great. We have great people in the city. We have we have people who are caring. We are dealing with some of our problems that all cities go through today with the homeless situation, mental health issues that we don’t talk enough about, all the good things that we’re doing, especially the city of Olympia, which are city manager and I have been talking to them, said, you have to let the community know all the good things that we are doing because we’re very caring community and is a state capital and we have people from other parts of the state that comes here and sees good, see what we’re doing and hopefully copy what we’re doing from that point. So and we as small business to support you. Yeah we have competition do we compete with each other. Not really. We support each other. If I don’t have a certain key or so forth, I send them across the street to radio, which has teased that I don’t care if somebody comes over there looking for a specific topic, they send them across the street to me. If someone comes in looking for a certain cup of tea, quarter cup, I send them over to the campus roads and see what they have there. So we work as a community together and I think that’s what makes it work. 

Kira Cleveland [00:28:50] It’s beautiful. And within that, respected by local Olympia, Washington, you were even covered by The Washington Post as a leader in retail in Olympia. 

Dean Jones [00:28:59] Right. 

Kira Cleveland [00:28:59] So what why Olympia for you and your family? Like what drew you to Olympia specifically? 

Dean Jones [00:29:05] Well, we’re quite, quite unique in that fact that in 1976, my wife and I decided we needed a change in life. We had three children from seventh grade down to second grade. So we sold everything we owned in Minnesota. We packed up a van and travel trailer and took off in parts unknown. And we spent the summer traveling all through the western United States and got outside of Olympia on Labor Day weekend. And there having to be a ferry strike or something going on when traffic was terrible. And so we pulled into a campground. As we spent time in Olympia, we actually said this is as a feeling about it that we really, really liked. And so we moved here in 1976 and settled in the community I worked with in the automotive parts industry at that time until 1984 when we opened our bookstore. And since then I’ve seen that feeling grow. Part of it has to do with the Evergreen State College, and people say, Evergreen State College, what role do they have? Many of our professionals in town, many of our business owners are graduates of Evergreen State College, including my one of my sons is. And I think that because of the uniqueness of the college and the mix of people that come out of that college, Olympia has developed into an extremely interesting artistic community. And so people come here and they fall in love with it, or close mountains or close to the ocean, have a great performing arts center. We have a great community center. We have a great retirement community in both all three cities. It continues to grow. We have small breweries with small stories. We have gelato with chocolate. We have all those good things. How can you not love living here? And we have an outdoors that I don’t have to worry about. 30 below zero weather like I didn’t Minnesota do. I like the rain, I love the rain, I love the rain and cloudy. I tell everybody my perfect temperature is 62 degrees. Absolute come alive at 62. Do I like our hot summers recently? No, but thank God we have a very air conditioned building. And because we don’t want our chocolate cement, we keep the temperatures at about 71 degrees so it doesn’t melt. So it’s just a fun city to be in. Let’s sit here with the procession this freezing started here we have two arts walks a year in downtown Olympia. We have downtown for the holidays, which hundreds and hundreds of people come downtown for. We have our summer celebrations every weekend this summer, on Saturdays, in July, we had street festivals going on. We had our we have the finest children’s museum on the West Coast that draws 350,000 visitors every year to our children’s museum. So and we’re right here on the waterfront south in the Puget Sound. It’s just a great place to be. 

Ned Hayes [00:31:59] Wow. Well, sounds like the story of Olympia and the story of Encore really motivate you. You’re filled with passion and speaking about it. I’m curious now, do you sign this kind of ten year lease? What’s the future of on core? Are you going to expand or are you going to have more storage where things going for Encore? 

Dean Jones [00:32:16] Well, at our current location, my partner and wife tells me I can expand. She said it’s time to quit expanding every few years. Is there a possibility that it would more so? Yeah, possible. I would be very interesting to see will come water. We have different areas in Washington that our concept of doing business that our concept of our store we’re always interested in talking to people about that. I see that on card continues to grow as we get more and more fantastic talkers and fantastic teas, our quality of merchandise might change. We don’t have much space we can grow within our current building, so we have to probably get it’s very difficult to add different types of teeth because we have customers who have their favorite keys. And if I would pull their favorite T off my shelf or put another T and I would get yeah, I’d be yelled at extensively. So we don’t do that. But Honokaa will be here. We’re not going anywhere. How many more years will I be involved? As much as I am now. Probably not as much, because some of my stuff is taking over some of that responsibility. All of. Ready. But will I ever not be involved in some entrepreneurial venture? I can’t see myself not doing that. It’s something that part of my being and I watched an interview the other night on it was on Sunday morning, I think it was with Ian McEwan as a writer out of England at a similar age of what I am. And he said he still writes anywhere from 12 to 14 hours a day. I don’t want to work that much, by the way. But he said, it’s who I am. It’s my being said. It wasn’t there. I might not be here. And part of that is why Oncor happened and why I started another business. I went back to my 50th class reunion, high school reunion, and I walked into the reunion. And by the way, the women all look pretty good. The men look terrible. They all look like old guys. I said, Who are these old guys sitting there? So as I talked to most of them had retired. I said, Tell me about what you’re doing. He said, Well, I play a little golf, I do some volunteer work, but in the winter time, it’s kind of tough. Here in northern Minnesota. I watch a lot of television and I looked at them, so that ain’t going to be me. And Carl and I talked says, I want to be involved in life. I want to be involved in the community. I want to be involved with people. I want to continue with my entrepreneurial interests that I have and see how successful that we can be. Do we want to spend more time traveling? Of course we do. And we plan to now that with this next year we have some trips planned and we’re looking forward to that. But on core will exist. Will I be involved in. Absolutely. At some form or another, even if I’m in there for a day, one of my things I’m going to be doing this next year, which I hope will continue for a long time, is that enough? People just want to talk and be connected. So I’m going to be starting one day a week. You can sign up for it, be a 45 minute time. You come in and have a drink and we’ll sit down at the table, we’ll share tea with each other and you can talk about anything you want to talk about. I don’t care what it is. Your kids politics. I might disagree with you on politics, but that’s fine. We can talk about whatever you want to talk about, but I think that we need to do more of that. We need to take these things, our cell phones, and quit walking around, stirring them, and start talking to each other again and connecting with each other. And some of this disconnection that we have and what’s going on right now in our country I think would disappear. I always tell people that I remember growing up, my mother and father. We live in a small little northern Minnesota town. They had some good friends, totally different political views. I remember they would come over to eat. I would be in my bedroom. I hear them arguing like crazy about politics and really getting into it. And as they would leave that night and give each other a hug came the morning for coffee and it was fine knowing that neither one of them were going to change your political views. But they loved each other and they respected the other person political views. And we’ve gone so far from that that I would like to I don’t know what I can do about it except having some tea with somebody and talking about what anybody wants to talk about. And so that’s all going to be I would be starting that sometime in January. 

Kira Cleveland [00:36:43] So that is beautiful. Just your commitment to relatedness and and conversation and bringing people together like that. Really appreciate that. 

Dean Jones [00:36:51] It’s fun because I get I get a lot of advice and a whole lot from me and I enjoy it a lot. So. 

Kira Cleveland [00:36:58] So beautiful. Well, you know, it’s kind of a last question I’d like to know. What do you hope your legacy will be? What do you want to be remembered for? 

Dean Jones [00:37:07] Being a nice person. One of the things a loving father and having my family remember me that way and the community remember me as someone who just loved Olympia. This last two weeks ago, another older member of our community passed away. And I think about Paul and I think about what he did for downtown Olympia and what he did for Olympia and all the what people are talking about with Paul and stuff and kind of like that, that, that people respect who I was and what I’ve done. Paul and I and Steve was my building owner, had lunch together about a year and a half ago. A year ago, as we sat there and looked at each other, we realized we were the old dudes from downtown. And Paul at that time was like 81 or 82. Sievers 79. And I was 78. It was kind of like, you know, we’re the last of the really old group from down here that still are really active and involved in downtown. So Paul’s gone. So it’s Steven myself now. Steve is six months older than I am, so I call him Dad and he calls me son. So and but it’s that whole thing. And hopefully to see that we encourage young people to get. Involved within the community and my staff. I walked in yesterday and said, Have you all voted? You know, not all of them voted. I said, How come? Well, you know, time I said, so hard to vote in Washington. Throw out a ballot and you drop it in the mailbox. I said, that’s really difficult to do. But I don’t know anything about the candidates. Did you get a voter pamphlet? Yes, I said, well, you’re the young generation that you have to get involved. You’ve got to get you’ve got to know what’s going on. I heard a report yesterday that the 18 to 24 year old group in Washington state, only 5% of them have voted so far. And it’s kind of like you’ve got to be kidding me. Voting controls what happens to your life. And if you know, it’s one of the most important things that you will do. So hopefully since yesterday, they’ve all gone out and voted. I haven’t checked with them yet this morning, but I plan to do that. Can I force them into it? No, but I’m going to give one hell of a bad time if they don’t vote. So one of my sons did not vote. I talked to Restasis. I want to hear from you tomorrow that you voted. It’s so important that we’re involved in that community and hopefully that if anything else, that I can pass that on. That city government knows who you are and they want to listen to you. And sometimes they don’t want to listen to you either, by the way. So sometimes emails, etc. when I send them to because I think sometimes they’re tired of hearing from me, but not really. But you need to let them know. You need to get involved. Because if you don’t get involved, if you we as the older generations not pass that on to the younger generation. Our society’s iconic is just 100 years from now. And that’s you know, I want that to continue on. That’s a long answer to your question. You know, you get me talking this time. 

Ned Hayes [00:40:17] Thank you so much, Dan. Really appreciate the time and the good discussion. Great. Take care. 

Dean Jones [00:40:22] Nice to see you. Talk to you soon. 

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