Review: Bay Area electronic surplus stores

-April 29, 2013

Living in Colorado, there are only two decent electronic surplus stores in the state. So, when I traveled to the Bay Area for an EMC presentation this last week, I took the opportunity to spend one day exploring and reviewing the collection of electronic surplus stores centered in the Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and San Jose area. All, but Fry’s Electronics were listed in a recent Google search for “electronic surplus stores” in the Bay Area. I probably should have left my wallet at home!

Guide to the ratings:

Components   (1 to 5 stars) – indicates the variety of electronic components.
Surplus   (1 to 5 stars) – indicates the variety of electronic surplus parts and assemblies.
Organization   (1 to 5 stars) – indicates how well the store and sale items are sorted and organized.
Pricing   (1 to 5 stars) – indicates whether sale items are priced fairly.


Anchor Electronics
2040 Walch Ave.
Santa Clara, CA
Hours: 7:30 to 4:00 M-F, 10:00 to 3:00 Sat
Web: www.anchor-electronics.com

Components   ★★★★
Surplus   ★★
Organization   ★★★★★
Pricing   ★★★



This was my first stop of the day. I liked the fact all items were priced clearly and that there were so many "dollar" bags of various quantities of parts. They have a huge supply of resistors, capacitors, inductors and ICs – all categorized and sorted. While there are plenty of components available for browsing, the bulk of their inventory is in their back warehouse area, so you need to know what you want in advance. They have a mix of new and new-surplus, with a dabbling of used parts and equipment. They also carry a full range of tools and DIY components and hardware. I found their staff to be quite helpful.


Action Components & Surplus (now Action Computers)
520 N. Lawrence Expy. #307
Sunnyvale, CA
Hours: 10:00 to 6:00 M-Sat
Web: www.actioncomputerstore.com

Components   ★
Surplus   ★
Organization   ★★★★
Pricing   ★★



This store used to sell a variety of surplus “stuff”, but now appears to be only dealing with cheap Chinese cables and accessories for PCs, of which they have a goodly assortment. They do have a small selection of used PCs and laptops, including several MacBook and MacBook Pros. They also offer to repair PCs. All seemed to be priced fairly, but the one sales person was so involved in playing a game on his PC, he hardly acknowledged my presence. I would probably take this company off the list of “official” surplus stores now that they seem to have morphed into a computer store.


Advanced Component Electronics (ACE)
1810 Oakland Rd. – Suite C
San Jose, CA
Hours: 8:00 to 4:30 M-F
Web: www.acecomponents.com

Components   ★★★★★
Surplus   ★★★
Organization   ★★★★★
Pricing   ★★



This was a little hard to locate thanks to inaccuracies in Apple’s map app, but it’s located directly across the street from the Orchard Bruins Event Center. The building houses an amazing collection of surface mount and leaded electronic components, mostly sorted by type. Very little was priced, unfortunately, but their bulk quote was more than fair. I bought several nice SMA coax cable assemblies and miscellaneous ferrite chokes for $25. It appears most people park in back and enter through the large unmarked garage door.


Excess Solutions
156 S. Milpitas Blvd.
Milpitas, CA
Hours: 8:00 to 6:00 M-F
Web: www.excesssolutions.com

Components   ★★★★★
Surplus   ★★★★
Organization   ★★★★★
Pricing   ★★★★



Excess Solutions has, by far, the best inventory of electronic components and computer and networking hardware. Their large warehouse is well stocked, sorted and all seems priced fairly. They also have a large supply of industrial control assemblies and components. I bought a Pentium III IC assembly for one of my EMC demos for $3 and an Ethernet hub for $5. I also noticed they run their cash registers and invoicing with older “rainbow” Apple iMac computers.


Fry’s Electronics
1077 East Arques Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA
Hours: 8:00 to 9:00 M-F, 9:00 to 9:00 Sat, 9:00 to 7:00 Sun
Web: www.frys.com

Components   ★★★★
Surplus   ★
Organization   ★★★★★
Pricing   ★★★



I don’t exactly lump Fry’s Electronics in with the usual electronic surplus stores, but with over 30 stores throughout the country and eight in the Bay Area alone, they are a major supplier of electronics components to the hobbyist and start-up engineering crowd. Their well-stocked stores include components, test equipment, networking equipment, and PC hardware. Their prices are relatively high, but if you need something for a project, you can likely walk out with just what you need. They also carry a variety of household, hobby, books, music, and other consumer items.


HSC Electronics (was Halted Specialties at one time)
3500 Ryder St.
Santa Clara, CA
Hours: 8:00 to 7:00 M-F, 9:00 to 5:00 Sat
Web: www.halted.com

Components   ★★★
Surplus   ★★★★★
Organization   ★★★
Pricing   ★★



They have lots of test equipment, but prices are high on most gear. They have a good selection of surplus parts, but could use a good cleaning and tidying up. Most of the prices were not what I would call bargains. Lots of surplus products and assemblies that never made a dent in the market. But, where else could you buy a mint Radio Shack TRS-80 personal computer and matching monitor for $175? They also offer a very good supply of vacuum tubes.


Weirdstuff Warehouse
384 Caribbean Dr. (near the north end of Mathilda)
Sunnyvale, CA
Hours: 9:30 to 6:00 M-Sat, 11:00 to 5:00 Sun
Web: www.weirdstuff.com

Components   ★★★
Surplus   ★★★★
Organization   ★★★★
Pricing   ★★



Well, what can I say about Weirdstuff Warehouse, except that they have loads of "weird stuff" - mostly surplus and well-retired PC and Mac computers, printers, disk drives and networking. If you can get past all that, they do have a few components, mechanical hardware and electronic assemblies. Most of what they carry is what I would call "junk". But, they do have a goodly supply of networking cables and related equipment - probably nothing newer than 10/100 BaseT. Remember the NEC Spinwriter printer? Well, you can buy one there for $150. They also had a pile of the original HP Thinkjet printers – the very first printer with inkjet technology (unpriced). Can you even buy ink cartridges for that any more? I didn't buy too much. Bags are 10 cents, so bring your own.

Do you have any comments or additions?

Where else in the country would I find good electronic surplus stores?

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