YAKIMA – Joe Mann showed his business acumen in his very first job as a Yakima Herald-Republic newspaper delivery boy.
From the age of 12, the current owner of Ron’s Coin and Collectibles did more than just deliver newspapers and collect money for subscriptions near his family’s home on Naches Avenue.
“I collected money from the subscribers, took it to the bank, and they wrote me a check that I gave to the Herald. They were impressed with it, ”Mann said. “I had a great route – it was nine blocks, not too difficult to walk, and it included the Sun Towers. There were about 80 papers right in this building.
Mann’s first job matches his last honor. The Grand Yakima Chamber of Commerce named him the 2021 recipient of the Ted Robertson Award for Community Service. Named after former Herald-Republic editor Ted Robertson, the award has honored individuals for their efforts to improve the region since 1989.
“I was amazed – there are so many people who volunteer and do so many good things for this community,” Mann said. “I was surprised I got the award.”
Amy Lopez, director of chamber operations, highlighted Mann’s service to the chamber’s board of directors as well as to the Downtown Association of Yakima, the Downtown Yakima Business Improvement District and the Sunfair Parade Committee.
“Those who know Joe call him ‘the unofficial mayor of downtown Yakima’ because of his active involvement in the town’s business community he loves,” Lopez said. “He has served on over 25 committees and led many local organizations. “
Most residents and visitors to downtown Yakima know Mann from his unusual store, which carries everything from comics to DVDs, license plates to Tonka trucks – and yes, coins, collectible cards and other collectibles.
“I started working for Ron (Chott) in 1975, when I was 15 – he showed me the ropes,” Mann said. “I actually started with stamps, but they got a little boring. So I started collecting coins when I still had my paper route.
Mann bought Chott in 1989 and since then has owned and operated Ron’s Coin and Collectibles. At one point, the company had locations on the west side of Yakima and in Union Gap, but the downtown location has remained a constant – along with Mann’s love for the downtown business district. .
Her family’s ties to the city center date back to the 1880s, when the community known as Yakima City began where Union Gap is now located. The town moved to the city center in 1885, and a few years later Mann’s great-grandfather from his mother’s side moved his tailoring shop to Yakima Avenue, “right up there. where the McDonald’s parking lot is today, ”Mann noted.
Mann helped establish the Downtown Farmers Market in the late 1990s. He helped organize the Sunshine and Christmas parades and is part of the Yakima Valley Trolleys organization.
But he believes his nomination for the Robertson Prize is linked to the efforts he and other volunteers put in to get Yakima named in 2015 as an American city.
“We had about 30 people who worked on the All America City campaign in 2014 and 2015,” Mann said. “The presentations you make for that are not bragging rights – you talk about the issues in your community and how people in your community are dealing with them.
“We highlighted things like the Bud Clary Toyota PACE program (which donates a bicycle and helmet to elementary school students with perfect attendance) and our medical school, Pacific Northwest University, which has opened in 2008, ”Mann said.
“It was born from the ideas, hard work and dedication of the local people,” he added. “I’m sure they were told many times that Yakima was too small to go to medical school, but they didn’t listen and rushed for it.
Mann and his wife, Kathy, have been married since 1989 and have two children, John Paul, 29, and Emily, 26. He and Kathy began acquiring properties downtown in 1990 and now own approximately 25 commercial properties.
Business in times of pandemic
He acknowledged that COVID-19 and the restrictions and mandates that go with it have been tough on downtown businesses, but hopes they have “turned a corner” as they recover from the pandemic.
“Most of my tenants are doing pretty well. They’re open again, even if it’s with shorter hours, ”Mann said. “I think a good portion of the community supported them, mainly because they appreciate and support local businesses.”
Ron’s has reduced its hours of operation from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and a few customers are stepping out when told that face masks are required in the store.
“We need masks not only for the safety of our customers, but also for the safety of our employees,” Mann said. “The majority of people understand and have worn a mask… some have turned around and come out. I can understand their frustration because we all want this to end.
Mann wanted to thank his three longtime employees – Dave Porter, Yvonna Zimmerman and Corey Leingang – who have helped his business over the past 18 months of COVID challenges. The ‘new’ Leingang started at Ron’s Coin and Collectibles 22 years ago.
“I’m really amazed that I was able to hang on to them for so long. It makes my life so much easier to have great employees, ”said Mann. “When they’re with you this long, they’re like family.”
After a few good-humored jokes with Mann, Zimmerman said she was happy to hear that her boss would be honored by the bedroom.
“I think he deserves it – it’s been around for a long time,” she said. “He always does something for the downtown area and the community.