Whatzit? | Basement Nostalgia at StuffGenie Emporium

How to finding your treasure …and your long, lost youth

by Greg Milo

I’m staring at a shirt boasting characters from “Battlestar Galactica”—the original series cast with Lorne Greene. It’s distracting me from listening to my host, Jason Miller, owner of Barberton’s StuffGenie Emporium.

Jason Miller2It’s easy to get distracted here. Midway through Jason answering one of my questions, I interrupt him to point out the game Battleship with those familiar looking ‘70s kids who seemed to be smiling on the box of every board game when I was a kid.

Jason doesn’t mind my distraction. It’s what he lives for.

“You can’t beat the Christmas morning fireworks,” Jason says, followed by a mouthed explosion sound effect. “It’s cool to see that elation.”

StuffGenie celebrates that joy with three rooms of nostalgic fun, but Jason has more hidden away in the attic and basement. He calls it a disease, but it’s definitely a happy one, because I can’t wipe the smile off my face, and I can’t stop saying, “Whoa, I remember that.”

From a young age, Jason caught the bug. He remembers his mother organizing a pirate scavenger hunt for his fifth birthday. He points to that as the moment of his love for finding treasures and selling them to those in search of treasures.

“It’s like a museum where you can buy stuff,” Jason says. “I love finding the stuff to put in the right people’s hands.”

“It’s very diverse,” I say, referring to the geeky toys and the antique ware behind the glass.

There’s E.T. dressed in a hoodie just under a photo of the Black Keys. And one of those great King Kong glasses you drank your milk from as a kid. There’s “Howard the Duck” comics next to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” A big wheel rides high above the showroom, chic 50s glasses sparkle loud and of course, the Evel Knievel motorcycle revs its magic.

“My thought process was to have a family of four, even grandparents, walk out with something,” Jason says.

It’s a lot like the entire Tuscarawas Avenue strip we’re walking—something for everyone.

Jason describes each store, promoting what they have to offer. He’s psyched about the Barberton revitalization, and I totally see what he’s excited about when I walk the strip. These turn-of-the-century buildings have more character than some people I know, and the stores inside respect that 100-year-old wealth.

Jason Miller 00Jason opened StuffGenie about a year ago. It’s a nice complement to the other vintage shops in historic Barberton. Between 3rd and 6th Street, along Tuscarawas Avenue, you’ll find the boutique Alter’d Relics, the quaint Snowball Bookstore, the diner atmosphere of Uncle Sonny’s Place, and the calm of Lake Anna down the block, not to mention, the Towpath Trail is linked to the downtown by way of the Magic Mile.

When he’s not busy greeting customers in StuffGenie, Jason is organizing auctions or hosting the Saturday night, geeked-out radio show Altered Realm on KRMAradio.com.

He’s definitely involved in the community, and he appreciates that community.

“StuffGenie Emporium would not be open without the help and support of my family and friends, especially Melissa, my driving force in life.”

It takes a while to leave, but I finally tear myself away. I thank Jason and say good-bye to StuffGenie, but I know I’ll be back to that store in Barberton that looks so much like my basement in 1982.