(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 culture's ongoing devaluation 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 few decades. 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 should 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.



This one appears to be a casualty of the pandumbic. The last known event took place on 31-Mar-19 and there does not appear to have been any held since. The web site is still there, so perhaps there is still hope for this one to return in times to come.


Couple that with the fact the entire chain of Fry's Electronics closed down in early 2021 and you have an event looking for a venue. No one I've corresponded with, or spoken to thus far (as of 20-Sep-21), has any idea if the event will ever return. I've been told ASVARO looked long and hard before setting up with Fry's for their venue. I've also learned returning to their roots (Foothill College or DeAnza College) is not an option at this time due to the entire college district (apparently) getting greedy about how much to charge for site rental.

With this said: I have not given up all hope just yet... I'm hoping ASVARO will be able to pull a 'Phoenix Rising from the Ashes' sort of thing, in 2022, but neither am I holding my breath. I have, for now, made my peace with the idea that a very valued part of my history in the techie world is no more.

I would like nothing better than to be proven wrong about that last part...



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: 20-Sep-21


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