High prices, nervous times start modern-day gold rush

Dave Doolittle knows he’s got gold fever.

He has been hoarding the metal for more than a year, storing jewelry and every piece he can get his hands on. Doolittle keeps checking the price of gold as it changes by the minute.

And it’s been on the upswing for more than a year. On Tuesday, the price of gold reached a record of $1,782.50 per ounce before closing at $1,747.40.

Even at a such a high price, Doolittle, 41, of Everett, doesn’t want to sell it.

“I am afraid the price will go up even further,” Doolittle said, saying that he’s hoping to keep it as his nest egg.

People who sell and trade gold are seeing a huge demand. Owners of some shops in Snohomish County say that can’t get enough of it. Dennis Stevens, owner of Can-Am Coins, a store that buys and sells currency in downtown Everett, says half of his inventory is paper money and the other is coins. He can’t keep gold coins in stock.

“People are flocking to gold because they don’t trust the American economy,” Stevens said. “I have a waiting list of customers who want gold that I do not have.”

The market’s instability is what worries Katie Shull, office manager for Odyssey Coins and Collectibles in Everett. She’s seen the price jump in the past, but plummet later on.

“A lot of times when the gold goes up fast, it crashes that fast,” Shull said.

While some are trying to buy and sell gold, others are trying to find their own.

Doolittle is one of those people. About 10 months ago, he joined Prospector’s Plus, a prospecting store and club in Gold Bar that allows its members to search for gold on acres where the business has mining rights.

Those include areas near Sultan, Skykomish and Blewett Pass in Eastern Washington.

Doolittle is part of a growing trend of people looking for gold, not only in Snohomish County but all over the country, said Chris Brawn, owner of Prospector’s Plus.

“Instead of taking a vacation, people are going camping and trying to find gold,” Brawn said.

The club has 600 family memberships, most of them having signed up this year, he said. They use pans, sluices and even metal detectors to look for gold.

Brawn is also a commercial miner, and has not seen a gold rush like this since the 1970s and early 1980s.

While the fever is still far from over, Brawn said it’s not the only reason people are prospecting.

“They do it make money or they’re doing it because they enjoy spending time outdoors,” Brawn said.

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