Stahlhelms Military Collectibles has been in business for about 30 years buying and selling militaria from WWI & WWII. The true beginning was probably in the late 1970s when as a child we would play army in the back yard and I would get to try on my dad's WWII uniform in the closet each year to see if I had grown into it yet. Even though he brought back some souvenirs, my dad and I enjoyed going to gun shows and auctions to find more...for some reason we gravitated towards German Helmets. Dealers would see us and say "stahlhelm" as they pointed out their latest offering. I added the "s" to make it sound plural even though it is not the correct plural form in German.
By the late 1980s, I had collected a lot of military items, mostly German & U.S. WWII. At the recommendation of a fellow collector, I started setting up as a dealer at local gun shows to sell my duplicates. This was pre-ebay and internet selling, so the best stuff was still at shows. As a dealer, I got in before the public and had first shot at the stuff other dealers had. I also started getting discounts from "fellow dealers" that I had never been offered before.
The next progression was in the early 1990s when I opened up a shop in an antique mall. The selling was enough to pay the rent, but the items that people brought in for sale were incredible. This was also the early stages of militaria on ebay and awesome deals weren't hard to find. It wasn't until the late 1990s that collectors started realizing there were items on ebay that couldn't be found at local shows. This started driving the prices up. This was also a time when a lot of WWII veterans were downsizing, so stuff was still coming out of basements and attics on a regular basis. My collection went from about 5-10 German Helmets to well over 100 in just 8 years.
The shop closed down in the 2000s as more and more people started using ebay and less people were bringing stuff in to sell. Most of my purchases now were through word of mouth and a lot of hit and misses garage sales. Most people didn't have stuff out, but a simple question of "do you have any military items" yeilded a lot of great finds.
A new chapter in the Stahlhelms story started in 2012 when the owner of the company I work for gave me what he said was a WWII Jeep. It turned out to be a civilian 1948 WIllys CJ2A Jeep that is titled as a 1943, but was painted olive drab and had some military markings stencilled on it. Lucky for me, my father in law is a Jeep Guru and we finished its transformation into a WWII looking Willys. I stencilled my father's unit on the jeep as a tribute to him. We now trailer the jeep to local shows and reenactments where we display some of our collection with the jeep. We also have built a 1/2 scale mini jeep for my son to drive until he's big enough to drive the big jeep.