BUTTE — It’s safe to say twin sisters Jennie Nielsen and Jamie Offutt have a lot in common.
Both like to style their hair in off-beat colors like red and blue. They wear quirky, playful clothes and talk with a quick, upbeat pace. The two are also self-described “nerds” who say it wasn’t always easy being different in the small town of Twin Bridges where they grew up.
But aside from sharing the same DNA, Nielsen and Offutt also share a love for all things anime.
It’s precisely this passion that led the duo to open the Geek Emporium on Broadway Street in Uptown Butte last January.
Residents of the Mining City, Nielsen and Offutt chose the name Geek Emporium because it’s all-encompassing.
“We thought about Twisted Sisters but apparently there’s already a Twisted Sisters in town,” said Nielsen. “So we didn’t do that.”
The store features a variety of “geek finery,” as the window display proclaims, and offers horror, fantasy, anime, sci-fi and video-game memorabilia based on tales of magic and mayhem.
The sisters took The Montana Standard on a tour of the store, where they demonstrated costumes, jewelry, posters, clothes, toys, novelty knives and various odds and ends.
“It’s a geek curiosity shop,” said Nielsen, who earlier showcased a set of tights designed to make the wearer look like a robot.
Offutt held up a time-turner necklace, an hourglass suspended by two concentric rotating rings. It’s a reference to the Harry Potter series of books, Offutt said, in which characters use the magical object to travel through time.
Although Geek Emporium is a new enterprise, this isn’t the first time Offutt and Nielsen have dabbled in the curiosity trade.
The started their journey selling hand-beaded jewelry at farmers markets across the state. Later on, the two said, they took their business in a “geek direction” by selling fandom at festivals like Missoula’s MisCon and GobCon in Butte.
Nielsen and Offutt said they sold a lot of trinkets at the markets and festivals, which gave them confidence a store could do well.
“We thought, we can do this,” said Offutt.
They transitioned into brick and mortar by working at O’Donna’s New and Used, 129 Broadway St., in exchange for shelf space. They eventually negotiated with shop owner Donna Devine to take over half of the building, where Geek Emporium now resides.
So far interest in the shop has been growing steadily, Nielsen and Offutt said.
“We’re getting some fans coming in,” said Offutt, noting that “otaku,” a term used to describe anime fans, have been especially enthusiastic about the store.
“They’re so excited, and we’re so excited when they come in” said Offutt. “We’re like, ‘yes, we’ll geek out together and we’ll show you everything.’”
The two said they’re lucky to have launched months after the Harrison…