(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. In fact, though I find it hard to believe, I feel we've reached the point (2022) where the swap-and-scrounge opportunities in the Pacific Northwest (WA/OR) are now superior to what's left in the Bay Area.

Welcome to yet another all-too-visible sign of selling off our country's engineering and manufacturing know-how to the Pacific Rim!

What follows are listings of what's left of electronic-specific swap meets and stores in the SF Bay Area. 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...

Swap Meets

California once had more monthly electronic/computer-related swap meets than you could throw a neon sign transformer at. 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.

    I'm pleased to report the ASVARO event has, at last, risen from its ashes!

    The new venue is West Valley College, 14000 Fruitvale Ave., Saratoga 95070. Along with the new location comes a change of day, though the seasonal operating window of March-September still applies.

    Specifically: The event now happens on the 2nd Sunday each month, operating hours 06:00-12:00 Pacific Time. There's no entry fee for buyers, but parking on the WVC campus will run you $3.00 for the day. Just look for the parking ticket machines, which all accept cash, coins or credit cards. Seller parking is included in your space rental fee.

    Speaking of: Seller spaces are listed as two parking spaces wide (Regular, $40) and three spaces wide (Jumbo, $60). Multiple sets of regular (adjacent) spaces can be had for $40 per pair if you've got a Really Huge Load.

    There is one other change: The event observes a "quiet" period any time before 08:00. This is due to the proximity to residential areas. Please respect this time. If you have to be noisy, or light up a generator, wait until after 08:00.

    I've not gotten a clear answer, as of this update (2023), on why they changed the day (they used to go 2nd Saturday). However, some digging around has let me to speculate the change was made so as not to conflict with a weekend Farmer's Market in the same venue.


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 one in the immediate Bay Area and one in Sacramento, as follows:

Ali's Surplus Stuff, Sacramento -- STATUS UNCERTAIN. It appears they've moved again, to Elk Grove. Query sent, update pending.

Anchor Electronics, San Jose

Excess Solutions, San Jose -- RETAIL STORE CLOSED PERMANENTLY 15-Jul-22. Converted to Ebay-only. See memorial page.

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

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

Last Update: 06-Aug-23

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