The owner of a new downtown business specializing in ghost hunting equipment has a confident long-term market outlook.
“As long as people are dying,” Darin Hough explained, “people are going to have an interest in it.”
But, there’s actually no better time to open a store like Ghost Hunting Source — arguably the only place around where you can buy an electromagnetic field detector, an infrared camera and a dowsing rod all in a single shopping trip — than the present.
Turn on cable and there’s no shortage of reality shows featuring everyday folks trying to capture proof of the spirit world.
There’s “Ghost Hunters” on Syfy, the granddaddy of ‘em all, that originally featured a couple of Roto-Rooter plumbers essentially trying to break through the clog separating the living from the dead.
Others followed, with titles like “Ghost Adventures” and “Deep South Paranormal.”
Hough, a 1984 graduate of Shawnee High School who’ll let anyone listen to audio field recordings he’s made of potential ghosts speaking and whispering, wanted to offer fellow seekers the chance to buy the exact equipment as seen on the shows.
Ghost Hunting Source opened Friday inside 14 N. Lowry Ave., an old industrial site known as the Robertson building.
Other tenants of the building have told Hough they think it’s haunted — so he’s hoping to conduct a ghost hunt there as part of the store’s grand opening party on Oct. 19.
Hough promises to instruct neophyte ghost hunters on how to properly use what they buy.
“We’ve got something that’s very popular. It’s called the spirit box,” Hough said, picking up and turning on what’s essentially a handheld radio. “The theory is, maybe the spirit could use the white noise to speak through.”
The spirit box, which retails for $59 and $79, has been seen on Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures,” he added.
Hough, 47, recently quit his full-time job as a supervisor at the F.F. Mueller Residential Center on Kenton Street to open Ghost Hunting Source. But don’t assume he’s possessed.
Six years ago — around the time he founded Miami Valley Paranormal Services — Hough began selling ghost hunting equipment online.
“It’s just gotten better and better every year,” he said.
Last year alone, he said, he sold more than $220,000 in gear online and shipped it to places as far-flung as Australia and Russia.
Another gadget he’s selling is something labeled E-POD-AMP, a $100 pod that features a series of lights that remain lit until static electricity is detected — ideal for trying to decipher why the hair on your arm is standing up.
“Maybe what you’re feeling,” Hough said, “is the real deal and you’re not just freaking yourself out.”
For paranormal investigators on a budget, the most basic EMF meter sells for $10.
Steve Worthen, an old classmate of Hough’s at Shawnee, has been on many of the ghost hunts conducted in local homes and businesses by Miami Valley Paranormal Services.
“People are searching for answers,” Worthen said. “But, when you’re doing this, you’ll end up with more questions than answers.”
For all the high-tech gear at the store — like video cameras specially modified to shoot in full spectrum — Hough also carries a variety of low-tech, old-school gear as well, including dowsing rods and tarot cards.
Need to cast out an evil spirit? Pick up some sage to burn. It’s been used for centuries, and it’s in stock.
The one product noticeably absent from the shelves at Ghost Hunting Source is the Ouija board, the infamous “board game” made and sold by the toy company Hasbro.
“It’s a personal thing,” Hough said. “I’ve had nothing but bad experiences with them.”
“Weird bad,” he added.