Some of Akron’s businesses are seeing a dramatic increase in young customers. A decent number of them are coming from other regions of Ohio and neighboring states. But why?

The answer is as simple as it is unexpected: TikTok.  

As you may (or may not) know, the video-based social media app has niche communities based on its users’ interests. Bookworms look to booktok for reading recommendations. Frog owners use frogtok to discuss the pet industry’s shortcomings and triumphs. And in the future, something along the lines of “akrontok” may join their ranks.  

Four Akron businesses have been the focus of TikTok’s attention, primarily because of their products, design and creativity. Here are their stories. 

The Bomb Shelter 

A sea creature on display at the Bomb Shelter. The Akron business has seen an increase in younger customers thanks to its growing popularity on TikTok.

Have you ever wondered where you can purchase a phone booth, Beatles albums and a 1920s DeLaval cream separator all under the same roof? Well, your answer is The Bomb Shelter

Before the building housed vintage goods such as 1950s dental towers and DMC DeLorians, it was a furniture warehouse for Norka Futon, owner Kevin Royer’s previous businesses. Once Norka Futon closed, Royer and his former business partner tried to lease the building, which is located at 923 Bank St in Akron. Despite its size (26,000 square feet), the building’s 10 rooms give it an odd shape, making it difficult to lease out. 

A Delorean on display at the Bomb Shelter in Akron.

So, he made it into a museum of sorts, one where customers can come in and get a taste of what life looked like during the mid-1900s and, if they feel so inclined, buy a piece of that history. 

Televisions, board games and lunch boxes from the mid-20th century are sold at the Bomb Shelter in Akron.

Like their inventory, the majority of the store’s customers grew up in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Royer and his staff took notice when groups of teenagers and young adults started showing up for several months around Christmas. 

Royer doesn’t usually do research on The Bomb Shelter’s customer demographics, but after seeing such an incessant stream of youngsters, he knew he needed to investigate.   

Containers for military drinking water provisions sold at the Bomb Shelter in Akron.

And what did he find? TikTok videos, of course. Most of which looked something like this: 

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