But that's changed dramatically in the past several years with the rise of popular paranormal-themed television shows such as "Ghost Hunters" and "Paranormal State," said Holland, who has been involved in paranormal research for 17 years.
"You can't throw a stone around here and not hit a paranormal society," he said.
With rising interest in all things abstract, Holland said he saw a need for a brick-and-mortar "community center" where paranormal enthusiasts could visit, network, and buy and test equipment.
Holland hopes Gear 51, the new store he is opening with fellow researcher Terri Marsteller, will fill that need.
"There's a lot of poor information floating around about what the gear is and what it's used for," Holland said. "And (most people) are buying their equipment off the Internet. . . . It would be more beneficial if they could look at it and try it out."
The store, scheduled to open Nov. 15, will feature tech demos, book signings and educational forums to help area ghost hunters and paranormal researchers hone their craft.
The shop will operate out of The Treasure Chest Secondhand Shop, which Marsteller is opening as a consignment and gift shop at 411 New Park Road in Fawn Township.
"We're really excited about the whole thing," Marsteller said.
Marsteller became interested in paranormal research after experiencing some "strange" things in the old Fawn Township farmhouse she and her husband live in. Doors would slam, lights would flicker and the smell of baked goods would permeate the house while nothing was cooking, she said.
Marsteller decided to reach out to Holland and the paranormal research team, who continue to investigate the happenings at her home.
But she's not just a bystander anymore. Marsteller has taken training courses and become a member of the research team herself.
On the other hand, Holland's interest in the field didn't stem from any supernatural experience but from a general love of science and "dark, creepy" things, he said.
The team, which he founded and runs, isn't just about ghost hunting; the group also researches UFO sightings; cryptozoology, or the study of "unknown creatures"; and other "science on the fringe," Holland said.
He hopes by providing an educational and networking center, York County will become a leader in the paranormal field.
"I would like this area to be put on the map, and for people to say, 'Those guys in that region really know their stuff,'" he said.
Paranormal enthusiasts can start out with some basic items when investigating supernatural activity:
--- Digital camera and camcorders
--- Electromagnetic field meters
--- Notebook to record observations
More-advanced researchers use additional high-tech equipment during investigations, such as:
--- Digital voice and audio recorders
--- Infrared thermometers and lamps
--- Wireless thermometer units and surveillance cameras
--- Handheld GPS units
--- Motion detectors
--- Night-vision scopes
Source: York County Paranormal Research Team
Darren Holland, director of the York County Paranormal Research Team, will speak 8 p.m. Oct. 28 at BADOG Music, 60 Glen Drive in East Manchester Township.
Holland will discuss the gear used in paranormal research as well as unveil new equipment specially designed for his new store, Gear 51.