Some call him Derek. A few call him Dad. But most just call him Voodoo.
Derek Everhart has always had an affinity for the abnormal. But now he specializes in it, selling a smorgasbord of skulls, stuffed animal heads and other finds at Voodoo’s Odd Shop on the corner of 13th and Martha Streets.
“The best way to explain the shop – this is my brain,” Everhart said. “Like what you see is what’s all cluttered inside this little noggin here.”
Like all good ghost stories, this one has some lore.
As a South Omaha kid growing up in the ‘80s, Everhart was drawn to the “different.” He noticed things other kids wouldn’t – like racoon skulls decaying in alleyways, prosthetic eyes dropped in grocery store aisles, and sets of dentures abandoned in parking lots.
Everhart and his crew of neighborhood kids could be found out past their bedtimes playing ghosts in the graveyard in the dimly lit streets. Many nights after traipsing across dewy yards, they’d cross the intersection of 13th and Martha streets toward the imposing mansion on the hill.
Everhart would stare at the looming red-brick Victorian mansion from afar. Formerly host to both a mortuary and a rest home for the elderly, the space already had an air of the paranormal to it.
Sometimes, Everhart even swore he saw a ghost in the front yard. Covered in chains and flailing weakly, the image sounds like something out of a book of scary stories and campfire tales. And with the placement of the ghost being in front of the former funeral home, it was perfect fodder for urban legend. But to Everhart and his friends, it wasn’t legend. It was reality – something they still talk about to this day.
Only now, more than 30 years later, they aren’t talking about the spooky house on the hill. They’re talking about Everhart’s home and business.
“There’s days… it’s like I’ve had bouts with depression, and I come down here because this is my memento mori,” Everhart said. “Like this year alone. I turned 41. And that was the year that my dad was, how old he was when he died. So like, honestly owning like this many human remains has actually helped me really deal with death better. ‘Cuz it’s like, up until I met my wife it was like, just seemed like I had a lot of death and loss in my life. This has helped me get through it.”
Before starting Voodoo’s Odd Shop, Everhart followed the motions. Oddity collection was his side hobby, but fatherhood and working life as a machine operator took the mainstage. But a life of normalcy didn’t suit him, and Everhart found himself in a deep depression..
He knew something had to change and decided to open his own shop, and fill his days with collecting and chasing the odd and abnormal.
“I guess I had to create my own spark,” Voodoo said.
Now, Voodoo’s days are filled with collecting coffins, seeking strange items from across the country and renting hearses — he owns six, two of which serve as the family cars for everything from dropping kids off at football practice to going through the drive thru. He does it all from the house on the hill, which became his just before the pandemic.
After sitting on the market for two years, the house eventually dropped in price and the Everhart family snagged it. But, it needed work. A slew of break ins marked their first few memories in the home, complete with a stolen chandelier and busted down back door. Over time, the strangers stopped coming by and asking for the former occupants – and Everhart made sure they knew that he meant business.
The creaky floors, old stone fireplaces and Victorian woodwork creeping around the home were perfect for a shop dedicated to the abnormal – but also for Everhart’s wife, four children and multitude of pets (including a snake with no eyes, a dog, three birds and Tiger, Church and Binx – three kittens that were born under a hearse parked in Everhart’s garage) to call home. While his kids handle homework upstairs, Everhart is downstairs surrounded by his oddities.
Every item that comes into the shop arrives with a level of respect. From ouija boards to human skulls, Everhart is careful to ensure all the pieces are responsibly sourced and respectfully contained.
He vets every person he purchases from, and steers away from unsustainable practices like bat taxidermy, which negatively impacts bat populations. Most of his other taxidermied items are 20+ years old, so as to not contribute to current hunting cycles. And when it comes to collecting human remains, much of the marketplace is contained to older specimens – a reflection of the regulations instilled to stop skull trades that led to unjust deaths. As Everhart points out the pieces in his shop, he can say where they all came from – but never who they were.
As he’s grown his collection over the years, he’s also grown his connections. This year, he’s brought together more than 40 oddity collectors, artists, performers and other vendors for the bi-annual Omaha Oddities & Art Expo. It’s the fifth time he’s held the expo, and this year’s event on Oct. 8 will feature everything from taxidermy, to crystals, to fire artist performances.
Everhart never knew that life could be like this – that the things known as “odd” or “dark” to others would be what pulled him out of the gloom, helped him find a community, and become his full-fledged career.
And now, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“This is what makes me happy,” Everhart said.
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