Wednesday, December 29, 2004

AS&S blog.

On the day after Christmas, I finally made it to American Science & Surplus, or at least one of its stores, in Geneva, Illinois, which is fairly far west of the city, and somewhat south of where we live. We’d gone out to do more conventional shopping, and I had to throw that store into the mix, because I’ve wanted to visit American Science & Surplus for years, ever since I read an article about it in the Chicago Reader. It was unusual enough to merit its own front-page article in that publication.

The AS&S web site says the following: “Here at American Science & Surplus we are fascinated by discovery and invention. And we are dedicated to having fun along the way. We offer an eclectic range of products, many with a science or educational tilt to them, others simply handy or amusing. Value is important, and whenever we can, we carry surplus at prices well below retail. We love closeouts, inventory overruns, mis-manufactures, and items whose time has not come.”

“Eclectic” doesn’t do it justice. It reminded me vaguely of the kind of dime store that doesn’t exist much anymore, but no dime store I ever went to offered wiring and electrical parts, beakers and test tubes, batteries and light bulbs of every description, globes and replica bones (including a full-sized skeleton, perfect for a closet), and such other items as a brain-shaped jello mold, Rocky & Bullwinkle refrigerator magnets and a boxing rabbi action figure—just to list a very small sample. The aisles were cluttered, and there was something to see covering every square inch, whether you had the remotest interest in buying it or not. And, as the web site says, prices are low, which may help explain the Geneva store’s location in a semi-suburban, semi-rural area, where rents must be low.

Lilly came away with a Boxing Day present, a caveman-ish looking figure whose arms stretch, and who can be launched like a rubber band; Yuriko got three boxes of white chalk, which she said is hard to find elsewhere; Ann got a red rabbit’s foot, which she showed no interest in; and I got Moose and Squirrel for the refrigerator.


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