Junk Shops in Silicon Valley (and beyond?)

[Updated 4/28/2021]

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 Central Computer 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 (Fry’s Electronics, Sunnyvale)

Open second Saturday of each month, March through September, 5am to Noon

The Electronics Flea Market suspended operation in 2020 due to the Pandemic. So far they have continued to place the event on hold in 2021, due to the continuing Pandemic and the closure of Fry’s Electronics.

The ASVARO Electronics Flea Market moved to the side lot at Fry’s Electronics in Sunnyvale for the 2018 market year, and the 2019 year continued to be successful in the new location.  Originally the Foothill Electronics Flea Market, this long-time Bay Area staple was at the DeAnza College parking lot for several years before moving across the valley.

Admission is free, and parking is free and easy (Fry’s has an enormous parking lot, and the store itself is closed for about half of the 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
Closed January 2019/merged with Excess Solutions in mid-2019

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.

Excess Solutions (San Jose)

Open Monday through Saturday (closes early on Saturday, closed holiday weekends)

Rumors say an enormous dotcom has purchased the property that Excess Solutions is located on, and a move is likely this fall.

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.

As of May/June 2019, Excess Solutions had purchased HSC Electronics. They’ve pretty much merged inventory and, while it’s not all out on the floor, you can find a lot of familiar Halted wares at Excess Solutions now (as well as some familiar Halted faces).

– Anchor Electronics (Santa Clara)

While it is not a traditional “junk shop,” Anchor Electronics has survived for over 40 years serving makers just off Central and San Tomas Expressway in Santa Clara.

If you’re looking for electronic and power components, tools, power adapters, and staff more than willing to help you find the right parts, this is a great place to go. They do occasionally have other things, like a classic Apple numeric keypad, but it’s more of a targeted shopping destination than the adventure that was Weird Stuff.

– Outback Electronics (Gilroy)

When Weird Stuff Warehouse closed in 2018, they sold their assets to Outback Electronics in Gilroy, and like Halted with Excess Solutions above, some of the Weird Stuff staff (including one of the owners) went to work for Outback.

I only started shopping with them in 2021, so I’m not sure how they did business other than eBay before 2020, or how they’ll go when things start to normalize.

For now, you can shop with them on eBay (outback6) where they have nearly 5000 listings. They may allow in-person pickup with appointments and proper precautions.

Disclosure:

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 folded into Excess Solutions, we need more places to shop for this sort of stuff.