EARLY — Principally Coins and Metal Detectors is former Woodland Heights Elementary School principal Bob Turner's business.
And it's his hobby.
"Ever see a 20-cent coin?" the 58-year-old Turner, the sole proprietor, asked a recent visitor, holding up a small, old coin.
Turner's small shop is on the east edge of Early, located at the junction of U.S. Highway 67/377 and FM 3100. That's the road that goes to Salt Creek Baptist Church and is just east of Eastlawn Memorial Park. It has been open for nearly five months.
Turner, who lives in Early with his wife, Ann, has turned his love for coin collecting and treasure hunting into a business that also sells metal detectors.
Turner is secretary of the Brown County Coin Club, and president of the Central Texas Treasure Club. Both clubs hold monthly meetings in Turner's shop.
"I've never been in business for myself," Turner said. "I've always wanted to. I like selling stuff. I have spells where it's slow, and I might have five cars pull up at one time. … Kelly, you see something you want, make me an offer," Turner told a visitor.
Not everything in Turner's shop is for sale, as some of the items are part of Turner's own collection. You can buy items including metal detectors, coins, books about treasure and coin collecting, and coin collecting supplies. And, you can swap stories of coin collecting and treasure hunting.
Turner retired from a 30-year career in public education in 2009. Ann Turner is a librarian in the Brady school district.
Wanting to stay busy, Turner worked at several part-time jobs before deciding to open Principally Coins and Metal Detectors. He bought a long-vacant building from an estate and renovated it into a quaint shop.
"If I have an idiot for a boss, it's my own fault," Turner said.
Treasure hunting doesn't mean searching for buried treasure worth millions. It's searching for small items people have lost decades, or even a century ago — coins, pocket knives, buttons, belt buckles, jewelry, tokens, old BB gun targets.
Treasure hunter Jerry Sheller, visiting Turner's shop, explained why treasure hunters hunt. "The appeal is the story behind them — it's just the thrill of finding something that somebody's lost," Sheller said.
"It's fun. It's addictive," Turner said.
It doesn't require a license or permit — just the permission of property owners to go treasure hunting on their property, Turner said.
Turner gave a quick tour of some of the items in his own treasure collection, including a laundry soap token from the 1920s, found outside a burned home in Early; a Masonic penny from the Breckenridge lodge, about 60 years old, found in a plowed field on the Bloody Bill Anderson home place; and a lantern from the 1920s.
While it's not a large business, Turner has plenty to do during his work day including writing newsletters, doing research and giving talks and writing a weekly column for the Bulletin — and, of course, selling and swapping stories with visitors.
So: business or hobby?
"It's a hobby that's a business," Turner said.