Kevin Royer and Damon Drummond nailed it when they named their 12,000-square-foot retro superstore The Bomb Shelter. Their warehouse on Akron's near east side feels more like a Cold War-era time capsule than a salvage/vintage shop.
Just inside the front door, a '66 Chevy truck (runs well, $3,500) greets you. Chrome dinettes with formica tops and vinyl-clad chairs sell alongside advertising signs, arcade games and jalopies. Wood forms once used to make inner tubes wait to be repurposed into bases for glass-topped tables. A 1930s salon perm machine with Medusa-like cables and clips has just arrived.
"We like things that are interesting, unique and vintage, and that somehow spark nostalgia," Royer says.
The 40-something business partners have their own reasons for selling, buying and trading at the store, which opened in August. Drummond, a found-objects artist, finds inspiration among the metal tractor wheels, headlights and frying pans.
Royer was looking for a business that could compete against the glut of cheap imports that forced him to close his furniture company, Norka Futon, last year. His long-standing love of art deco furnishings and vintage cars (he drives a 1967 Citroen DS) makes this new venture a comfortable fit.
"[We offer] that zing that reminds you of a time when you think things were better," Royer says, "even though they probably weren't."