Before we started working on the new entry into the Curbly Make-It! library, Make It! Secondhand Chic, I was telling a friend of mine my plans for hitting secondhand shops. He said, 'You gotta go to Ax-Man.' I had heard of the local Ax-Man stores, but only knew that they were outlets for surplus items, a sort of limbo for nearly secondhand. I'd never actually visited one, much to the dismay of the creator of Curbly, I might add. So, last week I decided to grab my camera and go on a fact-finding mission.
First of all, surplus stores--and THESE surplus stores in particular--are a kick. Shopping them feels like you're visiting museums of oddities. And it's not that the stuff is odd, it's the collection of disparate items that make them odd. Doll parts in one aisle, lab supplies in the next, DC motors in the one after that. As I perused the offerings of Ax-Man, half my time reading the wry signage, I started to realize the benefit of having all this unrelated stuff in one place: It makes you think outside the box. Why not have googly eyes and gas masks just a few feet away from each other? Caution tape next to petri dishes? So, if you're a designer, artist, inventor or collector, I'd highly recommend finding your nearest surplus store and have a visit. And if you're in the Twin City vicinity, a trip to Ax-Man should be mandatory. As for what I scored in Ax-Man, you'll have to wait and see in a forthcoming how-to!