VOL. 116 | NO. 239 | Thursday, December 12, 2002
Decades after Tom Phillips, as a child, uncovered a silver wine goblet
amidst other discarded items in a neighborhood cleanup
New shop owners want to turn silver into gold
By ANDREW BELL
The Daily News
Decades after youngster Tom
Phillips discovered a silver wine goblet among discarded items in a
neighborhood cleanup effort, a dream hes had ever since has finally become
Earlier this month, he and
his wife, Lisa, opened the areas first store to offer exclusively sterling
silver in many years.
A Silver Lining LLC offers
thousands of primarily estate sale items ranging from a $35 sugar spoon to a
But, just as important as
its unique and sometimes rare merchandise, the Germantown store gives customers
the opportunity to take their own journey of discovery, the Phillips believe.
In this day and age,
(researching and finding) silver is a good way to keep our focus on where we
are going and where we have been, Lisa said. Its our history.
She described the purchase
of a silver piece as a good investment, and something tangible one can pass
down from generation to generation.
Tom spent more than 20
years in the wholesale coin business, criss-crossing the nation for his work,
all the while developing relationships with estate buyers and sellers of silver
Eventually, the Philips had
collected, cleaned and stored enough silver pieces to open the store, after
finding a successful market for the silver items when they offered pieces for
sale in a corner of the Palladio Antique Market in Midtown in 2000.
We kept all these things
with the dream to open this store one day and also be able to work together,
The new store primarily
offers 19th and 20th century American-made silver from Reed and Barton to
Kirk-Stieff to Francis I place settings. Among the items for sale at 7511
Queens Court No. 2 are coffeepots, teapots, lettuce forks and picture frames.
Both husband and wife find
satisfaction in working professionally with items that represent something they
are passionate about history.
On the business side, the
sterling silver market endured a sharp increase in price from about $5 an
ounce to about $50 an ounce in the early 1980s when a Texas family tried to
corner the silver market by buying mass quantities of silver merchandise, Tom
individuals and companies sold their stock of silver pieces, causing many
silver retailers including some in the Memphis area to close their doors.
Since that spike, the
market has made a steady rebound. Tom said investing in silver is not trendy,
but is stable overall.
Ive never heard of a
sterling silver shop going out of business unless the owner retired or passed
away, he said.
The nearest exclusive
sterling silver store is more than an hours drive from Shelby County,
according to the Phillips.
The couple strategically
chose to open A Silver Lining in Germantowns Market Square because of nearby
stores aimed at capturing wedding-related business. Silver Linings neighbors
include Tootsies Catering, Just Write, Sandra Stroh Photography and Todays
Classic Design beauty salon.
Lisa said it is becoming
more popular for brides to register with silver stores. The couple is hoping to
gain substantial business from weddings.
Otherwise, the pairs
customer base consists mostly of women between the ages of 50 and 70 many of
whom want to purchase silver pieces either as gifts or for home decorating.
Silver market demand has
spawned more than 200 Web sites available for customers to order items, a trend
not lost on the new storeowners. They have plans to create a Web site of their
own in the future.
While they value the power
of the Internet, they believe enthusiasts handling a piece of shiny silver as
opposed to only seeing a picture of an item on a computer will make all the
I dont think a lot of
people want to punch a button to get it, they want to touch it and see it,