Day 117: American Science and Surplus

What a beautiful day!  We couldn’t have asked for better weather for a lacrosse double header in the city, followed by a great visit with friends at a fundraiser. Of course, we couldn’t leave the city without a stop at Sweet Mandy B’s. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stop at the one store that can actually entertain all four of us: American Science & Surplus.
Don’t like science? That’s ok, maybe you’ll pick up a whoopee cushion or two! No practical jokes? Ok, how about model kits, hardware hinges, or lamp wiring? From x-rays, to school supplies, to tools, to garden supplies- you’ll find anything and everything at American Science & Surplus.
This whole crazy store began around 1937 when Al Luebbers was working at Western Electric in Chicago. The optics store next door to Western Electric gladly gave him their rejected optic lenses free for the hauling. So, Mr. Luebbers and his wife would sit at the kitchen table cleaning them up to sell, and people bought. So, they became American Lens & Photo. World War II brought plenty of war surplus items and eventually their first retail store. Then their son joined the business. Over the years the business added two additional locations, tons more surplus inventory, and a website. Ownership passed through family and friends, and since 2012 it’s actually been owned by a former employee!
Even if you aren’t there to buy, you’ll still be entertained reading their product labels. image
Take your kids when you go, its great for conversation starters when their curiosity is peaked & they wonder about all of the old gadgets, like cassette cases!
New to Shop Small 2013 and want to know how this challenge started? Find out here.

Are you following our Facebook Shop Small 2013? “Like” my page for great deals and news from our featured small businesses.

Love hearing about the great small businesses that I’m finding on this 2013 challenge? Add your email & you’ll be notified every time there’s a new post!

Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

3 Locations:
(original location)
5316 N. Milwaukee
Chicago, IL

Leave a comment