(Sunny) California Swaps and Stores

"Scrounging is the highest form of recycling..." (The Anonymous Technoid)

"It is the customer who ultimately decides when equipment is 'obsolete,' not the manufacturer..." (Walter Shawlee, Sphere Research)

I feel blessed to have grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area (Berkeley, to be exact), about an hour's drive north of the 'Silicon Valley.' I have very fond memories of many happy weekends spent rummaging at memorable legends, such as Mike Quinn's, Weird Stuff Warehouse, Haltek, HSC and M&B Electronics.

Unfortunately, thanks to our current culture's devaluing of what drives the core of a healthy and thriving surplus market (local electronics manufacturing, R&D and engineering, and the jobs that go with them), the Bay Area's surplus resources have been steadily dwindling over the last decade. Welcome to yet another all-too-visible sign of selling off our country's engineering and manufacturing know-how to the Pacific Rim.

Thankfully, it's not a total loss. We still have one brick-and-mortar store, Excess Solutions, in the immediate area. Ali's Surplus, in Sacramento, is still very much alive, and there is the monthly ASVARO Electronics Flea Market from March-September.

What follows are listings of electronic-specific swap meets and stores in the SF Bay Area, and a few outside of it. I wish there were more. Maybe there will be, in times to come, if our mad dash towards planned obsolescence and mass consumerism can be throttled...

If you're after primarily test gear: You'll need to journey to Sacramento first, specifically Ali's Surplus. Excess Solutions occasionally gets stuff in, but such equipment is not their primary focus..

If it's primarily component parts you're after: Hit Excess Solutions first, then Anchor.

If you're a computer parts scrounger: Again: Ali's first, then Excess Solutions.

Swap Meets

California has numerous monthly electronic/computer-related swap meets. The ones that I know best are in the Bay Area and in the Los Angeles (Lawndale, near El Segundo) area. I believe there’s also one in San Diego, but I have no current information on it.

With any electronics swap meet, the best policy is to get there EARLY (at the crack of dawn if you can), as the best deals tend to go very quickly. Here’s what we have in the Bay Area.

I know nothing about it outside of a few photos of past events from their web site. I will say, given what I saw in those photos, that it most definitely looks worthwhile. If any of the board's readers happen to stop by, please let me know what you think.

GET THERE EARLY! The official operating hours are 05:00 to 12:00, so I would suggest sellers be onsite and in line shortly before then. Buyers, make your own plans, but I would suggest wearing something reflective or light-colored if you're going to be there pre-dawn.

Location:  Fry's Electronics Parking Lot, 1077 E. Arques Ave., Sunnyvale. Talk-in is on two local repeaters: W6ASH, on 145.270 RX, negative TX offset, PL of 1Z (100Hz); Or N6NFI, 145.230 RX, also negative TX offset, and the same PL code.

PARKING FEES: None for buyers, but please observe all marked parking restrictions.

Bay Area Surplus Stores (Active)

The Bay Area was, at one time, home to nearly a dozen retail-type surplus stores. That number has dwindled to two, in the immediate Bay Area and one in Sacramento, as follows:

Ali's Surplus Stuff, Sacramento

Anchor Electronics, San Jose

Excess Solutions, San Jose

Halted/HSC Electronics: Closed permanently, 12-Jan-19. See memorial page.

Weird Stuff Warehouse -- CLOSED PERMANENTLY,  8-Apr-2018. See memorial page.

Last Update: 10-Jan-19

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