By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS – People close to Stan Passman were getting louder about wanting him to retire. So he compromised.
He and his wife, Elaine, have owned Silver Eagle Coins and Collectables since before he retired from the Army as a warrant officer at Fort Hood, beginning in November 1977 on Root Street in downtown Killeen.
After he left the Army in 1983, they moved the business to Killeen Mall, where they added other gift lines and stayed for 25 years. A couple of months ago, they downsized and moved to the strip shopping center on Miller's Crossing across from the Harker Heights City Hall.
Passman said it's worked out fine. They have about half the space, but still carry some of the small statuary and other gift items they formerly had.
"More than half of it is still in storage because we don't have room to put it all out," he said.
They have cut the hours; the store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. No more evenings, Sundays or holidays. The store is easier for the couple to run with the aid of their daughter, Kathy Abilez, who has been with the store since its start and now manages it.
"We figured we could make it if we did a third of the business we did in the mall, and we've been doing half what we did. We were able to keep our old phone number," he said.
The showcases are still a mini-museum. There are well-worn Liberty dimes and other half-dollars and silver dollars that jingled in pockets until the 1950s; new gold coins and old coins and currency in denominations no longer minted, like half-pennies; antique bills that wouldn't fit in any modern wallet; and a wide variety of foreign coins and currency.
Throughout the year, the shop also gets a few $500 and $1,000 bills, which move as gifts at Christmas. There are coin sets in boxes, and flawed $5 and $10 bills that go for hundreds of dollars.
"I used to be the only kid at coin auctions. I've been collecting coins since I was 9 years old and would never have done anything else except for a 21-year interruption," Passman said.
"I joined the Army for three years to leave home and just stayed in."
He put on the uniform in 1961 and did two tours of duty in Vietnam. He became a food service technician, retiring in 1983.
What goes on in the shop is only part of the business. He looks for money from the early 1800s and occasionally gets items from the 18th century worth thousands of dollars.
He attends shows and auctions to fill gaps in clients' extensive collections and does estate appraisals. He uses three top grading services that get close to a rare item's actual value.
He also buys scrap gold and other precious metals.
Free of the long hours and other requirements that a mall store requires, the shop is more like the hobby of a 9-year-old boy's dreams.
"This isn't work anymore," Passman said. "It's just fun."
More information is available at (254) 690-2300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Don Bolding at email@example.com or (254) 501-7557.