Gadget Store Is a Tinkerer's Delight

By Murray, Gretchen | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 7, 1998 | Go to article overview

Gadget Store Is a Tinkerer's Delight


Murray, Gretchen, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Gretchen Murray Daily Herald Staff Writer

If your child's mere mention of a science project sends panic through the household, relax - there's a place to turn.

The American Science and Surplus store at 33W361 Route 38 in Geneva has been helping kids with science fair projects for more than four years.

Assistant manager Debbie Ditchman of North Aurora keeps the aisles stocked with a plethora of chemistry beakers, scientific apparatus, microscopes, telescopes and household gadgets that would satisfy most project requirements. She also carries small motors, Army surplus and miscellaneous paraphernalia gathered from liquidation sales, auctions, government surplus, pharmaceutical companies, close-outs and bankruptcies.

It would be an understatement to say the store is full of unusual things. The most visible item is a periscope from a 1970s German tank. The scope is priced at $25,000, making it the most expensive item in the store. The information card on the scope states that "it comes in basic beige that complements any decor," implying that no well-decorated home could be without it. There have been no takers to date, however.

Other "gotta-have-it" items might include a Zeiss lens (for star-gazing) at a mere $995. Of course, the tank range finder hanging from the ceiling might be a bargain for someone at any price.

Even though some of the items may seem a little pricey, the store also carries a variety of toys and dollar items, so it's possible to get out without spending a fortune.

Most of the fun is in digging through the little bins filled with treasures, visualizing how the items could be used. A $40 military cargo sling, for example, might have a civilian afterlife as a tie-down for the back of a pickup truck. A floral designer might see that stack of surplus ammo boxes as interesting containers.

Even though it's difficult to leave the store empty-handed, it is constantly filled with people who are just browsing. …

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