EDISON PARK — Jonathan Schoonveld is in the nostalgia business.
No matter the age or background of the customer who wanders through the doors of SMASH Toys and Collectibles, 7222 W. Touhy Ave., Schoonveld is confident he can dig out an object that unearths buried childhood memories.
"I like to think of myself as a time machine," said Schoonveld, who launched his one-man operation in March.
"Having been a 5-year-old who played with toys is a common thing," he said. "So for someone to walk in and see something from their youth, or from their parents's or grandparents' youth, will almost always put a smile on their face."
The 1,200-square-foot nook is packed from floor to ceiling with every solid piece of culture capable of sitting on a shelf — everything except for "Beanie Babies and sports memorabilia," the latter of is "its own entire world," Schoonveld said.
His inventory ranges from 50-cent comics to decades-old mint condition collectibles — like a sealed 2-inch model of the Power Droid, the dusty box that clomps its way through the background of "Return of the Jedi" — that will run an avid collector $500.
Schoonveld was merely an amateur collector of comics and Batman toys until last year, when he decided to "put my knowledge of pop culture to good use," he said.
He left his job at an advertising agency and sold off most of his stash, starting over from little more than scratch.
Within a few months, he'd amassed a eclectic new trove of beloved characters and obscure oddities. There are "Star Trek" pez dispensers, a "Call of Duty" Lego set, a 1950s chemistry set and "Sesame Street" hand puppets in their original boxes.
And every day sellers stop by with even more to offer, he said.
"The best part about this job is seeing stuff walk through the door you never thought you'd get to see," Schoonveld said. "I get countless amazing things."
SMASH Toys and Collectibles is open noon-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 1-6 p.m. Sundays. It is closed Mondays.