The Surplus Survivors
I'm trying to clean up the shop a little and free up space, and one of the places I need space the most is in my file cabinet. I've been accumulating catalogs for electronic parts and equipment for years untold, and each gets a folder in the top drawer, so that invoices and catalogs can live together. (I want to know what I ordered from who, when. The system works well.)
So I asked myself a week or two ago, How many of these firms are still in business? I began looking them up on the Web. An amazing number are still out there and still selling parts and odd junk like they were back in the 90s. Here is a list of the survivors so far:
- 624 Kits: Now STF Electronics, deals in parts and tube project kits
- A&A Engineering: Now mostly charger kits, some odd parts
- Ace Component Electronics: General small parts surplus
- A. G. Tannenbaum: Vintage radio parts, tubes, old manuals
- All Electronics: General, mostly modern surplus & tools
- Alltronics: General homebrew parts, cases, & tools
- Amidon: Ferrite products, coil forms, baluns, beads, etc.
- Antique Electronic Supply: Tubes, amp parts, NOS stuff.
- BG Micro: General modern small parts surplus
- Burden Sales: Industrial surplus, pumps, fans, motors, clutches
- California Electronic Supply: General surplus
- Dan's Small Parts: Much RF & ham stuff, great prices
- Debco Electronics: Modern radio-oriented surplus, RF modules, cables
- Electronic Goldmine: General surplus, small parts
- Fair Radio Sales: Military surplus, odd parts & odder grubby stuff
- Far Circuits: PCBs for QST & HR projects, small parts
- Gateway Electronics: Modern surplus, test gear, robot stuff
- Halted Specialties: General modern parts and electronics
- Ham Station: New and used ham gear and odd electronics
- Herbach & Rademan: Motors, mechanical, fans, industrial surplus
- Hosfelt Electronics: General surplus. Online site is hideous.
- Jameco (James Electronics): kits, small parts, test equipment
- JDR Microdevices: Computer surplus, connectors, small parts
- Leeds Radio: Old radio parts, ham radio parts
- Marlin P. Jones: General parts, tools
- MCM Electronics. Audio/visual equipment...and Raspberry Pis!
- Mendelson's (MECI): Huge, diverse house. Parts, boots, gloves, etc
- Midwest Surplus Electronics: General modern surplus
- Oak Hills Research: W1FB (SK) founder. QRP parts & kits
- Playthings of the Past: Old parts, radio restoration stuff
- Radiokit of Pelham. NH: Still there but not online.
- Radioware: Ham radio antenna stuff, books
- Radio Works: Antennas, antenna parts, wire, baluns
- Ramsey Electronics: Kits, parts, test equipment
- RF Parts: Ham radio parts, tubes, transistors
- Surplus Sales of Nebraska: Most expensive junk in the world
- Tucker Electronics: All test equipment now; few parts
- Weird Stuff Warehouse. Been there. Awesome place. High-tech surplus
There were, of course, some casualties:
- Brigar Electronics, Binghampton NY.
- Burghardt Amateur Center. Still there, but now a repair shop only.
- Classic Radio, Houston.
- DC Electronics, Scottsdale. Sold to Philmore.
- Edlie's Electronics, Levittown.
- Fertik's Electronics, Philly. Leon was a character. Appreciation here.
- Ocean State Electronics, RI. Flood apparently did them in.
- Two Fox Electrix, Tivoli, NY
I didn't list firms that vanished prior to 1990. I used to order lots of stuff from Poly Paks in the 70s, but they've been gone a long time. Ditto Tri-Tek, with their embarrassing mascot Amp'l Annie. Nor am I counting the manufacturers' distributors like Mouser, Digi-Key, and so on. The file drawer has folders for tool vendors, wood products dealers, and non-electronics firms of many sorts, which also had winners and losers that I won't tally here. (Many of you may know that Small Parts, Inc. has been bought and converted to Amazon Supply.) A number of used book dealers I bought from regularly in the early 1990s are, not surprisingly, gone. One survivor in that category is Bequaert Old Books, which I knew as Rainy Day Books in the early 90s and heartily endorse, especially for old ham books and "boys'" electronics and science books. Frank survived by moving his sales fulfillment to AbeBooks, as the others did not.
The upshot is that the file drawer isn't a great deal emptier than it was yesterday. I'm good with that, since some of these firms (like Playthings of the Past) are very nearly the sole source for certain items. What I marvel at is how long some of these companies have been around, and how well they've weathered our near-constant recession since 2008. The Web helps. Print catalogs and postage are expensive. The good news is that there seems to be enough people like me to float a quirky industry that looks like everybody's picture of a hoarder's basement. As grim as these times may be, there's always something worth celebrating!