Business & Real Estate

Goldsmith ends 34-year run in Los Altos: Dean's Designs closing its doors at the end of 2013

Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Dean’s Designs at 328 Main St. is closing its doors at the end of 2013 after more than 30 years in downtown Los Altos. Larry Hayano purchased the custom goldsmith business from founder Dean Yoshimizu in 1990. Long-time employees, from left, include Lynda Newlon, Pamela Palajac, Ruth Aguirre and Gigi Luna.

Retirement will mean the end of the line for a downtown Los Altos business that first opened its doors in 1979.

Custom goldsmith Dean’s Designs at 328 Main St. is shuttering its doors at the end of the year following owner and master goldsmith Larry Hayano’s retirement. The retailer is currently running a retirement sale through its final day – Dec. 31 – in Los Altos.

Pamela Palajac – the store’s graduate jeweler gemologist – told the Town Crier that Hayano began planning his retirement in 2012 and called the end of Dean’s Designs a bittersweet moment for the goldsmith and its staff. Hayano, a member of the American Gem Society, was unavailable for comment last week.

“I’d definitely say it’s melancholy,” Palajac said. “But we’re also far too busy to let that interrupt what we’re doing.”

Hayano assumed ownership of the business after purchasing it in 1990 from the original Dean – retiring founder and childhood friend Dean Yoshimizu. Prior to taking over the business, Hayano worked with Yoshimizu as a jewelry designer and repairer.

Palajac credited a loyal following for the goldsmith’s longtime success, noting that several customers who no longer live in the area still ship items to the store regularly for cleanings – a service the store has performed free of charge since its opening. Pointing to its 30-plus years in downtown Los Altos, Palajac added that the retailer’s following is also a multigenerational affair.

“Larry has seen parents come in here, and now we’re seeing their kids getting married, too,” said Palajac, who began working for Hayano six years ago and has 25 years of experience in the business. “It’s been very cool to be a part of something like that.”

Since Hayano announced his retirement plans, Palajac said the store has been the site of a few tearful goodbyes from regular customers who learned of its pending closure.

“We had a customer recently who was crying as she was walking out of here,” Palajac said. “She’ll miss having that connection and seeing Larry in here.”

But the customers aren’t the only ones who will miss the store, added Palajac. She said she’ll specifically miss Hayano himself, as well as the familylike working atmosphere the goldsmith’s small staff enjoys on a daily basis.

“We’re very tight and we work incredibly well together,” Palajac said of her colleagues. “It’s really the best job.”

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