When I moved to California in the 1990s, you were more likely to go to USENET than the web for recommendations on places to buy computers, electronics, gadgets, and components. A couple of people, myself included, created web pages to list our regular haunts. I last tangibly updated my junk shop page in 1999, and in the ten years between that update and my restoring the page from archives, most of the stores mentioned closed or moved or both.
Inspired by fellow technologists who are (re)discovering the remaining junk shops in the current decade, I’ve decided to start a new page for the state of scavenging in Silicon Valley.
If you’re new to the world of junk shops, here are some caveats to keep in mind.
1) Customer service is variable, but will usually work best if you’re looking for specific information rather than guidance for the whole purchase.
2) Stock and availability varies widely, and you should never assume that if you find something today, you’ll find it tomorrow. With most recyclers and salvagers, they get what people bring in, and while some things show up in bulk or over a period of time (i.e. End of 3 year leases, or big companies closing down or refreshing their gear).
3) As-is means as-is. Some places will offer a 30 day warranty, but most things are covered by George Carlin’s two-halfs guarantee–if it breaks in half, you get to keep both halves.
4) This stuff has been disposed of by someone who probably used it for a while. If you want current/new product, go to Fry’s or Best Buy or shop online. If you can handle something that’s a couple years (or a couple decades) old, you can probably find something pretty good for a fair price.
As with the former site, I welcome feedback on new sites or clarification on the ones listed already. I’m happy to link to other people who might have sites like this.
Everyone neat and pretty? Then on with the show.
– Electronics Flea Market (DeAnza College, Cupertino)
Open second Saturday of each month, March through September, 5am to Noon
Originally the Foothill Electronics Flea Market, this long-time Bay Area staple has been at the DeAnza College parking lot for several years. Don’t mistake it for the student-run flea market the first Saturday of each month.
Admission is free, but parking requires a $3 daily permit, and DeAnza patrols the lots so you will want to get a parking permit at one of the kiosks before entering the flea market.
Sellers can rent a space for $30, giving you two adjacent parking spaces to set up. Additional two-space allotments are $30 extra each. You have to either have a California sellers permit to sell regularly, or file a BOE-410D upon entry for “occasional sales” (no more than twice a year).
– Weird Stuff Warehouse (Sunnyvale)
Open 7 days a week (closed on certain holidays) Closed as of April 9, 2018
Alas, on April 6, 2018, WeirdStuff Warehouse announced that they would no longer be in business after the close of business on April 8, 2018. The building has been bought by Google, who will be demolishing it to build more office space, and the inventory has been sold to Outback Equipment of Gilroy, California, who will likely eventually sell it on eBay.
Weird Stuff has been the main Bay Area junk shop for decades. They moved from Lawrence and Kern a bit over 20 years ago, to their current location across from Yahoo! and the Sunnyvale water treatment plant and landfill.
You’ll find a wide range of computers, from as-is/stripped laptops to fully configured servers, workstations, desktops, printers, and network gear. The enormous as-is space in the back has a steady stream of controller cards, components, network gear, power supplies, phones, old drives, and more.
– Halted Supply Company / HSC (Santa Clara)
Open Monday through Saturday
Halted recently moved an intersection south along Central Expressway, with pretty much the same offerings but a slightly cleaner and more comfortable environment.
They’re still focused on components and radio gear (receivers and amateur radio), but you’ll find a supply of compute and networking gear as well as a huge variety of cables and connectors.
Note that Halted’s owners for the past 40 years have announced their intention to retire and sell the store. As of April 2018, they are still open and doing business, although they have fewer employees now.
– Excess Solutions (San Jose)
Open Monday through Saturday (closes early on Saturday, closed holiday weekends)
Excess Solutions moved from Milpitas a few years ago with an eclectic variety of office furniture, e-cycled electronics and computers, and a selection of ageless ground coffee to boot. For the last year or so, they’ve had a 50% off sale on the entire store (although some things like the touchscreen computers and new stock speakers and light bulbs are “already 50% off”).
There’s a wide range of cables, power adapters, and 42U racks, and the occasional dentist chair or home gym. A few months ago they had an Illy espresso stand–all the chrome and glass you’d need to set up a coffee shop in a mall or an airport.
These are not advertisements, and the companies and venues discussed have not reviewed or endorsed this site. It’s just based on my personal experience, and those of believable people I’ve met. I welcome news of other in-person electronics stores like these; with WeirdStuff gone and Halted possibly going away, we need more places to shop for this sort of stuff.