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Little Box Stores


Just FYI, we're going to leave this post up for the day today - we really like this conversation going on in the comments. Continue to let us know where you would like to see some of our products. Thank you for all the fantastic feedback!

When I was growing up, I had many encounters with hobby and craft stores, initially because my mom is a crafter and worked for an arts and crafts store that shall remain nameless. Practically every weekend during the warm weather months, she would drag us kicking and screaming to arts and crafts shows across the state of Indiana so she could set up her booth to make some extra money. As a kid, I dreaded going to these events because it was all the same people and same booths every week, the only difference was the location. It felt like we were there for an eternity while my mom would stock up on her supplies. I would've rather had my nose in a book than create something from the vast array of supplies my mom kept on hand.

But a science project at the end of seventh grade completely changed my perspective of hobby stores. Mr. Shaw decided that for the last week of seventh grade, we would spend our class time building rockets, and on the very last day of class we would launch them in the cornfield behind our middle school. He told us we could get our rocket kits at Hobbyland, a locally owned store in my hometown. I was not excited about going to Hobbyland to get my rocket kit; I'd spent too many Saturday afternoons waiting for my mom while she mulled over which supplies at that same store.

Then something amazing happened, my mom couldn't take me. My mom turning down a chance to go to Hobbyland!?! I had to make sure that my neighbor's pigs hadn't sprouted wings and flew the pen! Those pigs were there, as they always were, and no wings in sight.

I arranged to get my rocket kit with my best friend Renee and her mom. As we pulled into the Town and Country shopping center, I didn't have the heavy feeling I usually felt. I'm not sure what happened, but when I walked into Hobbyland that day, it was like I'd never been there before. Maybe it was because Renee was pointing out various items that she wished she had. Or maybe it was that because my mom wasn't there, so my guard was down. I honestly don't know why, but for the first time, I saw that there were so many possibilities for creation. Never again did I dread Saturday afternoons at Hobbyland. I don't remember what rocket kit I chose, but I do remember that after building it, it sputtered instead of soaring into the sky like my classmate's rockets. I learned rockets weren't my bag, and that my mom's crafting wasn't for me. I learned that there was a whole part of my brain I hadn't been using, and to this day I create art, quilts, fabric projects, mixed media art, and occasionally tinker with electronics. All thanks to Mr. Shaw, and my mom not being able to take me to Hobbyland.

At this point, you're probably wondering what this has to do with SparkFun! We'd like to put a few of our basic retail items in mom and pop type hobby, electronic, and fabric stores around the country. What store is near and dear to you? Hobbyland is this place to me, and this is the kind of store we are looking for. Think of a place you would take your niece, nephew, son, or daughter to to pick up a few items to teach them the basics of tinkering. It could be a hobby store that sells everything from art supplies to rocket kits. It could be a fabric store that could carry a few of our LilyPad items. It could be an electronics store in your hometown that could carry our BigTime Watch Kit, Simon Says Soldering Kit, or our Tool Kit. Heck, it could be a type of store we haven't even thought of!

We already have our retail line at Micro Center, and because we don't want to bite off more than we can chew, one company with multiple locations carrying our full retail line is enough for us!

We want to hear from you! Who should we talk to in your town? Leave a comment or email us at sales@sparkfun.com.


Comments 271 comments

  • (North CA)

    Fry’s Electronics would be good.

    You could also take pity upon Radio Shack, they’re trying at least. They might even have half a clue now.

    Actually, I’d really like to see a presence in non-chain electronics stores. There are a few left that have real character, Al Lashers in Berkeley, CA is my local electronics dive, there are a few others scattered about, Electronics Plus in San Rafael, a few places near Palo Alto etc. Dunno if that’s practical, but if you had a standard interface for stores like that to sign up and carry stuff, well, that’d be really awesome.

    • At least here in Austin, Fry’s is stocking the OSEPP line of Arduino-like boards. It’s not SparkFun and it has a slight mark up ($1-2) but it’s good in an emergency, which is all Fry’s is really good for any more anyway.

    • OH I beg you, take pity on RadioShack. All they have is a bunch of stuff I have to pull apart first. I want nice Sparkfun kits!!!!

    • I’d just like to throw in another shout out for Al Lasher’s. Awesome place; seeing SparkFun products there would pretty much make my life complete.

    • Thanks! We’re actually looking for non-chain stores!

      • I know you are looking for non-chain stores, but i would recommend contacting the hobby department of the Ace Hardware in Berkeley, CA on University. This store has a hobby basement that is packed with models, HO and N gauge model trains, rocketry, and more. They already have a little section with some older style electronics kits, and I think a more up to date set of electronics kits like those from SparkFun would be great in there. It may officially be part of a chain, but this store, at least downstairs, has always operated more like a mom and pop. They have model train layouts in the window of the store, and an overhead track upstairs, hanging from the ceiling that has been there since I can remember (1974 when I was 6). The combination of arduino products and model railroading leads to some very cool ideas, and since i started playing with arduino, and SparkFun kits, I have pulled my old HO layout out and started cleaning it up. I hope someone else here knows of the Ace basement :)

        Al Lashers is the best place I know of in the east bay for electronics components. It isn’t however much of a hobby shop. It’s not as much the type of place that anyone is going to wander in looking for kits. It is however awesome, and I would like to see them carry more dev kits that make entry into electronics easier, because they might have the complete line of ATmega products, but they probably don’t have anything that would convince a beginner to try out hardware programming.

        • I live less than a block away from the ACE hardware you’re talking about. The people that own the building have plans to expand (upward) and I believe that the ACE will be relocating for a short time (not 100% sure). You’re right, they do have a nice hobby section in the basement when you first walk down the stairs. It’s not huge, though. The other half of the basement is plumbing. =)

          Now, Al Lasher’s on the other hand… is exactly the right place for SparkFun products. Al Lasher’s already carries obscene amounts of products. It would be VERY cool to be able to buy SparkFun products there. I’m actually excited by this possibility.

  • I go to Norvac Electronics in Beaverton, OR www.norvac.net. They have three stores, all in Oregon. I guess you could say they are a small chain :-). I also go to Surplus Gizmos in Hillsboro, OR. http://www.surplusgizmos.com/ Both would be a great place to sell your stuff!

  • Love it! I occasionally take my son to Hobbytown (http://www.hobbytown.com/Oakdale-MN/). Its tough for me to not buy anything myself! Also, near me is “Hub Hobby” (http://hubhobby.com/). This is a great place to get cheap R/C servos. And marbles.

    • +1 for Hub Hobby in Minnesota. They have 2 stores and are the best surviving example of what hobby stores used to be when I was a kid. Something for everyone, a place to go to be inspired and amazed, and all hobbies covered. It’s a great place!

    • I was /also/ going to suggest Hobbytown USA!

    • I was also going to suggest Hobby Town USA, here in San Antonio, TX. They have an affinity for the exploration type kits. Spark Fun would do well. http://www.hobbytown.com/San_Antonio-TX/

      • Hobby Town USA in Knoxville, TN would be a good place. I am starting to get the feeling though that you might want something a little smaller than hobby town though.

    • I’d settle for Hobbytown in longmont, fort collins and cheyenne (I live in Laramie.)

    • Thanks!

  • Radioshack…in new jersey?

    • Radioshack is great - but there’s got to be other stores you get bits from. Your hardware store? Your fabric store? Where do you go for the random supplies you need during a build?

      • Ugh, I hate Radioshack. The chain is more a cell phone store than a parts store these days. The parts section is a pitiful corner of the shop with a weak selection and high prices; the staff is incompetent too. Radioshack only good as a last resort if you absolute can’t wait few days to get the parts online; you’ll probably pay less for parts online too–even with shipping.

        I’m lucky to have a local electronics part store with guys who know their stuff. Even then I’d rather just order stuff online so I can get it in quantity at better prices, and have a much wider selection.

      • In Southeast Michigan, as far as electronics go, I think RadioShack is it. There are some stores that do R/C hobbying and model airplane hobbying, but to be honest I really don’t frequent those places, although their websites look nice :-).

        RadioShack’s electronics section does need some help, I think that’s part of what got me started w/ this as a kid, that I could go to RadioShack and gawk at all these wonderful parts and that most of which I had no idea what they did!

        • You have Electronic Connection in Westland, Abel Electronics in Saint Clair Shores and Van’s Electronics in Ida.

      • You already have a rack at J B Saunders!

        • Hah! Yep we do (JB Saunders is the local electronic bits store in Boulder, CO). We’re looking for other analogs of stores like JS Saunders: small, give back to the community, easy to work with, etc.

          • I sooo miss Gateway Electronics that used to be down of 40th and Federal. I used to go there as a kid to get replacement eeproms for my Epson Printer card that went into my appleII+

            Ever thought about a Sparkfun Retail Store, I gotta a great retail building, on a very busy street, in Golden.

            Cheers,

            J

      • Sounds like RadioShack is your equivalent to Maplin - ‘Electronics Specialist’ who doesn’t sell commodities like pin headers. Although, having said that, if you are looking across the pond, then that is where you would want to go. At the moment, their uC kits are really bad, nothing like Arduino, and definitely not enticing to the beginner.

      • I agree with SuCom, there isn’t anything here in SC that I can find. Sure, there’s plenty of stores like the R/C and Model Railroading, but Radio Shack seems to be the only place I can pick up a few parts. The only other time I can get something interesting is if this Electrical Engineer I know has some samples that didn’t make it into the product they are designing…

        • I agree. Radioshacks the only place other than the internet I can t basic parts. Resistors, leds are 2 for $2. Ahhhhhhhhh! Rip off.

      • The only electronics store that is not a beaten-up hut that’s never open that I know of in an acceptable range of me is… RadioShack sigh.

    • Yeah… AFAIK RadioShack is the only place in Northern NJ that carries individual components. So in a pinch I have gone there to get odds + ends- resistors etc; but they are way overpriced on components, and as @BB said, they are more of a cell phone store these days. I’ve been to a few that had a knowledgeable staff, but they are few and far between.

  • Norvac Electronics in Beaverton, Salem and Eugene, Oregon. They sell mostly electrical components and supplies, but they do have some Velleman kits – Sparkfun gear would be a nice addition.

    OMSI (the science museum) would also be a cool place.

  • Surplus Gizmos (http://surplusgizmos.com) in the Portland, OR area. They’re nominally electromechanical surplus, but they do carry kits.

    • I was about to suggest these guys as well. Great little shop, I find all sorts of odd trinkets for my mad scientist tendencies. They are at least familiar with Arduino, and they carry a great selection of LEDs and other assorted goodies. Always found it odd that it is so hard to find a good electronics store within spitting distance of Intel and so many other high-tech companies in Hillsboro.

      Coming at it from the hobby shop side of things, I might also suggest Tammie’s Hobbies, a popular shop in Beaverton, OR. (http://tammieshobbies.com)

  • I want to see kits in the gift shops at the Colorado Museum of Nature and Science, OMSI, the Pacific Science Center, and the Exploratorium. If presented correctly, they might even host classes.

    The kits I see in these places are just about the same as what was there when I was a kid. New items would be good for the stores and for the kids, and the grandparents could find a new thing to give for the birthday. And the audience is right: these are places that attract the kids of families that are more likely to play with technology.

    • Try the Discovery Science Center in Orange County, CA. Their gift shop is full of hands-on science projects as well as arts and crafts. I bet they’d even like a workshop or something hands-on too–they always seem to have traveling exhibitions and community events to get kids tinkering and thinking with their hands :)

      Right now, they’re hosting a traveling Star Wars Exhibition where, while looking at costumes and movie props, the kids can also learn about maglift trains and then build and program their own “droid”.

    • I was thinking the same thing. Maybe build a small exhibit for the museum if they don’t already have something. Then have the kits in the gift shop so folks can try at home what they saw at the museum.

      I grew up on Ohio and we had a place called COSI that I’d kill to go to every day as a kid. They had some simple “electronics” kits in a very well stocked gift shop along with some other cool science stuff. (mostly potato clocks, build your own motor kits and those 150 in one type electronics kits.) They even had a 2 ½ foot tall Van de Graaff-Generator for sale. (and a 12' one in the museum!)

  • Unicorn Electronics in upstate New York. Its the only place for many miles.

    • This is where i started my whole interest in electronics in my very first computer hardware class at binghamton university. I was accounting major lol

    • I was about to suggest this one, too. Great store, seems perfect to me for SF stuff.

  • I would love to have Sparkfun in more stores. I would actually love a stand alone Sparkfun store. I would be glad help out with that.

  • Santa Cruz Electronics, Santa Cruz, CA, http://www.santacruzelectronics.com. My wife managed to find me 3 Christmas presents there: micro SD card, HDMI cable, and one of those SATA/IDE drive-to-USB contraptions. Woo-hoo!

  • How about college bookstores? My grandaughter would love to be able to buy Arduino and other supplies right on campus. Can’t keep her out of my supplies when she visits. Tom J

  • Gateway Electronics in St. Louis would be a good store to carry stuff but it is only about 10 miles away from a Micro Center… http://www.gatewaycatalog.com/

    • Gateway electronics is awesome. I believe they actually carry some Sparkfun retail stuff, but having more can’t be a bad thing. They seem to always have everything else I need, unless it’s really really weird.

  • Central Utah Electronic Supply, 735 South State Street, Provo, UT 84606-5200

    Basically the ONLY store in the area that has engineering/hobby items. There are a few universities in the area with engineering/electronics programs (BYU and UVU) and many engineers work and live near here.

    • Sadly because of it’s condition and lack of anything “new” people around the valley call it: “That 70’s Store” and “Ghetto Electronics.” I would love to walk in there and see some bright red SparkFun boxes.

  • I live in the southeast, the deep south east, and there are few stores for electronic components. I was amazed to see my local Radio Shacks carrying Make Kits and Arduinos. I would love to see SparkFun retail kits there, but I understand why I don’t.

    There is a place in Orlando, FL that’s awesome. Skycraft Parts & Surplus (http://www.skycraftsurplus.com/). I stop in when I can, but that is not too often. Also, being a novice who is learning from the beginning, the place is a little daunting. You can spend hours in the place wasting time.

  • That’s easy, if anyone hasn’t already suggested it.

    Museum gift stores!

    Mostly non-profit, non-chain and major stock is educational kits.

  • I’d like to see Lilypad at Joan’s fabrics nation wide. The old ladies would love to have a little bling in their next quilt.

  • You-do-it Electronics in Needham, MA. They have everything from consumer electronics to project enclosures, ICs, and electronics kits. I think Sparkfun kits would fit in nicely there!

    http://www.youdoitelectronics.com/

    • Yeah, I was gonna mention them. They basically rock.

      • Oh good, glad someone else mentioned them. You-Do-It is a great shop, but I’ve been dying for them to get some good Arduino/microcontroller stuff in. They have lots of the traditional Elenco, Velleman, Snap Circuits, etc., but they could use some SparkFun and/or Adafruit fresh blood in there!

  • I live in a small town in Montana and there is a radio shack but they don’t have anything beyond simple stuff and Jap crap that breaks in a heartbeat. And their prices are way to high. I almost never go there. But there is a Pamida, look it up on Wikipedia. They have a toys section for little kids but nothing for teens or adults ( yea adults play with toys also. But honey it’s educational, we have to get it for the kids). If I was you this is the kind of store I would be looking for. Even Ace Hardware in town would be a good idea. Here in Montana you can buy ammo at the hardware store just like when I was a kid. If you go to somewhere like wallmart you will be lost in the selves. You need a store that is small enough that your products will catch dad’s eye while he’s looking for the shit to fix the .

    If I was you I would pick a state, some place like maybe Colorado. Send out ads to the owners of the stores and show them pictures of your products you want then to put on the shelves. Maybe even send them a completed kit sample to wet their interest. I think at that point you will have more orders then you can handle, or maybe just enough that you can keep up with. You sell to wallmart and you will be up 24/7 just trying to make the first order. Don’t bite off more then you can chew. Always a major error small businesses make.

    • Fantastic feedback. I like the idea of possibly working with hardware stores. There may be a nice cross over between electronics and education.

      I like your warning about being careful (who, us?). We’re excited to see this niche electronics/hacking world start to dip its to into mainstream. Who knows where tomorrow will take us.

      • I'’ve been into a lot of ACE hardware stores, and they all seem to be very down-to-earth and in touch with the local community. I’ve even been in a few that have extensive selections of model trains (one of my other hobbies), so I think they’d be worth investigating for electronics as well.

      • Colorado would seem to be a good place to start. Since you’re already there, that might give you guys a leg up.

  • Sparkfun should open their own Store chains! Lol wouldmb awesome if plausible.

    • i would so staff the sparkfun store!!!!, or become a distributer for North West hills/litchfield hills CT.

      If sparkfun wants to discuss that possibility i would be willing to talk. (i know of locations for storefronts with classroom ability’s)

  • A very interesting place in the Chicago and Milwaukee area is American Science and Surplus. I think your stuff would fit in real well there. Their website is: http://www.sciplus.com/ Whenever I stop by there I ALWAYS leave with a bunch of stuff (paid for, of course).

  • HSC Electronic Supply is my favorite place to shop.

    It would be a treat to see some SparkFun products there!

    • Seconded; HSC would be a great fit. They have a great selection of simple components and physical widgets, but lack cheap microcontroller kits and accessible sensors.

    • Agreed. HSC for sure, you would love those guys Sparkfun! they’re at halted.com

  • You really should talk to Baynesville Electronics. They are here in Baltimore. They look like an electronics shop from the days when people built their own radios. If you’re passing through Baltimore check them out. They’re not too far off I-95. Here is a link to their website: http://www.baynesvilleelectronics.com/index2.ivnu

    • Another vote for Baynesville. Also the Maryland Science Center http://www.mdsci.org/ has an extensive gift shop. Science center/museum gift shops in general should carry your retail kits.

  • I’d love to see your stuff at http://hubhobby.com/. I was just there with my 7 year old picking up supplies for his first rocket launch. (Which went very well thank you.)

  • Compleat Games & Hobbies, in downtown Colorado Springs, CO (http://compleatgamer.com/), would be great for beginner to intermediate items. They also have an area with tables that they use for group gaming and model making, which would be ideal for a beginner class assembling something like the Simon Says kit.

  • If you want to cover Northern Europe - contact the Clas Ohlson chain of stores (http://www.clasohlson.no). They sell all sorts of electronics and soldering tools, but they could do better in the hobby-kits department :-)

  • I know it’s been suggested before and you don’t want chains, but Fry’s would be a great place, they sell many kits already have a decent selection of DIY tools and parts. I live 30 miles from Chicago and the only place I can find components and other parts is either Fry’s or Radiohack.

    Also I have to second American Science and Surplus (sciplus.com) they are a small set of stores (3) but would be perfect for Sparkfun products. I use to work at one and spent many hours hacking things together with the parts there (One of them was a coilgun) for displays.

  • This will probably get lost in all the comments so far but is there any way you could work something out with all the hacker spaces that are popping up everywhere?

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  • In Sacramento R/C Country Hobbies is my hobby store of choice. I get my R/C Plane stuff there. I think that your retail products would go great there!

    http://rccountryhobbies.com/

    Edit also we have Metro Electronics in downtown.

    http://metro-electronics.com/

  • How about the Hobby Corner in Iowa City, IA? They’re about the only go-to in my area for anything hobby-related. You want Warhammer? They’ve got it. You want R/C, HO and model kits? They’ve got it.

  • What about college bookstores? My college sold electronics kits at the bookstore. I know students at ASU-Polytech in Mesa, AZ would love to have some place better (and closer) than Fry’s Electronics. I wish I had the capital to open a small electronics shop nearby. Hell, opening any small ‘tronics shop near a tech campus would probably be a good idea.

  • Any store in Dubai. Seriously!!

  • Newbury Comics in the Northeast, mostly Massachusetts. Lots of college and grad students go to the Boston/Cambridge stores. Also, the MIT Museum Store.

  • Two stores here in Northern VA (not far from ThinkGeek HQ) that I haven’t been to recently but have shopped at in the past 5-10 years are

    Dancon Electronic Wholesaler http://maps.google.com/maps/place?cid=7535670061164601908&q=Dancon&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=14&vpsrc=0

    I found this place back when I was looking for some specific 74xxx ICs for a parallel port interface that I was building based on something I saw in one of my robotics books. They had what I wanted. I don’t remember them having much of a show room though.

    Hobby Hanger http://www.hhvastore.com

    This one is right near Dancon and definitely has a show room full of stuff and on the day I went in looking for some small servos to build an Insectronic robot. They didn’t have the specific model I was looking for but they had some that were compatible with it and I was able to buy some at a discount that were pulled new from model airplanes that customers were upgrading out of the box. I also was able to buy some small brass tubing and other hobby level hardware that you won’t find at a Home Depot.

    Chantilly, VA isn’t too far from the Microcenter in Fairfax so there’s a little competition there but these places might attract a different crowd than Microcenter which could be good for you.

    We had a good Radio Shack nearby a number of years ago but a new owner took over and now it’s like all the others pushing cell phones and cheap junk. The other hobby shop that was near the Radio Shack closed a few years ago. There might be another one near my usual travels but I haven’t been in it so I’m not sure what they carry.

    I hope you guys do well with your retail endeavors. They may not become wildfire successes but if they are a stray spark (pun partially intended) that lead remote pockets of people to Sparkfun.com it may still be worth while. It’s easier to make an existing fire bigger. It’s much harder to start a new fire in a cold place.

    p.s. Not sure why I’m feeling all metaphorical with the fire references. “People who speak in metaphors should shampoo my crotch!”

  • I have to put in another vote for You-do-it electronics http://www.youdoitelectronics.com/

    It’s a huge multi-floor warehouse dedicated to diy electronics

  • How about Palo Alto Toy and Hobby in downtown Palo Alto, CA? Since Radio Shack pulled out, we have nowhere downtown to buy electronics! Very sad…all of our technical book stores have died too.

  • How about Palo Alto Toy and Hobby in downtown Palo Alto, CA? Since Radio Shack pulled out, we have nowhere downtown to buy electronics! Very sad…all of our technical book stores have died too.

  • How about Palo Alto Toy and Hobby in downtown Palo Alto, CA? Since Radio Shack pulled out, we have nowhere downtown to buy electronics! Very sad…all of our technical book stores have died too.

  • In the Boston area, You Do It Electronics: http://www.youdoitelectronics.com/

  • In France , Cyclades Electroniques would be a safe bet , wen I go there , their always is people ! http://www.cyclades-elec.fr/

  • donovans hobby store in sioux falls south dakota - awesome place!

    http://donovanshsc.com/

  • San Mateo Electronics (SMElectronics.com) would be a good place. Small, local, old-school electronics store that carries kits by Elenco and Velleman.

  • San Mateo Electronics (SMElectronics.com) would be a good place. Small, local, old-school electronics store that carries kits by Elenco and Velleman.

  • I just thought of another place, our local ham radio dealer. He does carry some parts on his ‘pegboard wall’. http://www.mikeselectronicsfl.com/

  • San Mateo Electronics (SMElectronics.com) would be a good place. Small, local, old-school electronics store that carries kits by Elenco and Velleman.

  • San Mateo Electronics (SMElectronics.com) would be a good place. Small, local, old-school electronics store that carries kits by Elenco and Velleman.

  • San Mateo Electronics (SMElectronics.com) would be a good place. Small, local, old-school electronics store that carries kits by Elenco and Velleman.

  • You-Do-It Electronics out in Needham, Mass: http://www.youdoitelectronics.com/

  • Centennial Electronics is where I go locally in Colorado Springs. It’s a WBE certified, woman owned wholesale/retail electronic parts store that’s been around since 1952. http://www.centennialelectronics.com/ They sell all sorts of things there.

  • You might do well with Philcap in Akron (http://www.philcap.us/ for contact info only) as it’s a fairly big store. I don’t blame them for never putting inventory on their website, but they should make an actual website. I haven’t been in there in so long, some of your kits might already be stocked there.

  • Hmmm… Anyone know of good electronic stores around Madison, WI? Radioshack is all I’ve found so far, and they aren’t that great :(

  • I think SFE should put some of their products at Radioshack, as they’re starting to go more DIY. They started carrying Arduinos, and wouldn’t everyone love some nice widgets to go with it?

    Also, Hobbymasters in Red Bank, NJ would be a great place to see Sparkfun products :)

  • Big +1 for museum gift shops. Also +1 for American Science and Surplus, When I was 12 it was the first place my folks let me take the bus to (probably because they got tired of taking me every week). Almost 50 years and they sell the same great kinds of junk. Here in New Hampshire I can recommend ESS would carry your kits in a heartbeat and a GREAT educational toy store Imagination Village.

  • Austin, TX: http://www.kingshobbyshop.com/ (block away from a high school) http://www.thehobbyexpress.com/ http://www.terratoys.com/ (well known shop, advertises on TV)

    http://www.discountelectronics.com/index.php?l=page_view&p=about_us They have three locations here and are a highly-rated business. They sell used office machines/batteries and cheap cables/accessories. You can’t judge by their website. DIY would be a good expansion for them.

    http://switchedonaustin.com/about An electronic music and A/V hacker haven. They have classes: http://switchedonaustin.com/content/diy-video-transmitter-video-hacking-workshop-noise-extravaganza http://switchedonaustin.com/content/solderless-breadboarding-mickey-delp

  • For Sweden: Kjell & Company (www.kjell.com, e-mail: kundtjanst@kjell.com) (chain of stores, somewhat similar to Radio Shack in the US I think).

    Physical store in Stockholm: Materialbutiken (http://www.materialbutiken.se/, e-mail: info@materialbutiken.se). Crafts material store.

  • Tammie’s Hobbies, Beaverton, Oregon! Love that place, they have very helpful employees who go way out of their way to make their customers happy. I bought a LiPo charger from them that went bad two months later, they replaced it and never even asked to see my receipt! I had it with me of course but their service has always impressed me. They have a wide selection of RC helis, planes, and cars, as well as model trains and the lot. Not a whole lot of what SparkFun sells there but I wouldn’t mind seeing it, that’s for sure!

  • Haven’t had a chance to make it over there yet myself, but it sounds like Action Hobbies in Lakewood CO would be a great place to check into. Small, friendly, and already carry a large variety of electronics.

    http://local.yahoo.com/info-19604402-action-hobbies-rc-aircraft-center-lakewood

  • About the only places in Fort Wayne are Phil’s Hobby Shop (which pretty much only carries R/C cars and planes) and Radio Shack (which doesn’t carry much).

  • I think this is a great idea! Glad to see Greenbrook Electronics in NJ is still in business. That’s probably the only place I know in NJ. Haven’t been there in over a decade! I too would like to know of a place in New York City. I don’t know of any except that the NYU bookstore does have some basic parts and Arduinos for some intro classes, but that’s all I know. College bookstores in like Stevens or NJIT in New Jersey is also a good idea. Space is of a concern in NYC. NYCResistor is also a good lead in New York (Brooklyn), they have to get their gear from somewhere and since they offer classes they may also be able to resell.

  • I think this is a great idea! Glad to see Greenbrook Electronics in NJ is still in business. That’s probably the only place I know in NJ. Haven’t been there in over a decade! I too would like to know of a place in New York City. I don’t know of any except that the NYU bookstore does have some basic parts and Arduinos for some intro classes, but that’s all I know. College bookstores in like Stevens or NJIT in New Jersey is also a good idea. Space is of a concern in NYC. NYCResistor is also a good lead in New York (Brooklyn), they have to get their gear from somewhere and since they offer classes they may also be able to resell.

    • BTW, posting from an iPhone lead to a weird experience. My post showed up in the URL query strings and a bunch of unrendered HTML appeared on my browser.

  • As far as i’m concerned, anywhere in Canada would be an improvement. The shipping option could then be something else than very long or very expensive ! Here in Sherbrooke (Qc), Raybel electronic or Electro-5 would be good candidate for your retail line of product. A canadian chain like “the Source” could be a great too !

  • As far as i’m concerned, anywhere in Canada would be an improvement. The shipping option could then be something else than very long or very expensive ! Here in Sherbrooke (Qc), Raybel electronic or Electro-5 would be good candidate for your retail line of product. A canadian chain like “the Source” could be a great too !

  • Speaking of small electronics or hobby shops, does anyone know any good ones in the New york city area, Queens area

  • Creative Crafts and Framing Shop http://www.creativecraftsandframeshop.com

    and Trumps Hobbies http://trumpshobbies.com/

    They are both in Corvallis Oregon which is home to Oregon State University where there are many engineers who would love this kind of stuff.

  • I worked at Frys Electronics up until recently. They do carry the ossep line. While im not saying dont go for it, the buyers at Frys are a little less than pleasant and sometimes can be resistant to niche products.

    I now work at Hobbytown, and what most people dont realize is that Hobbytown is a franchise chain, so the owners keep up with their own stuff. It might be worth checking into that, hobbytown doesnt mind niche stuff, they just wont keep a huge amount on hand.

  • Electronics123. Great Stuff. Greater people.

    Company Name: Electronics123.com, Inc.

    Contact Info: Toll Free: 1-888-549-3749 (USA & Canada) Tel: (330) 482-9944 Fax: (330) 266-7307 Web: http://www.electronics123.com

    General customer support questions: E-mail: general@electronics123.com Technical product questions/support: E-mail: support@electronics123.com

    Address: Physical: 102 East Park Ave, Columbiana, OH 44408-1353, USA. Mailing: PO Box 21, Columbiana, OH 44408-0021, USA.

    Where is Columbiana, Ohio? About 60 minutes drive from Pittsburgh PA or 90 minutes from Cleveland OH.

  • Electronics123. Great Stuff. Greater people.

    Company Name: Electronics123.com, Inc.

    Contact Info: Toll Free: 1-888-549-3749 (USA & Canada) Tel: (330) 482-9944 Fax: (330) 266-7307 Web: http://www.electronics123.com

    General customer support questions: E-mail: general@electronics123.com Technical product questions/support: E-mail: support@electronics123.com

    Address: Physical: 102 East Park Ave, Columbiana, OH 44408-1353, USA. Mailing: PO Box 21, Columbiana, OH 44408-0021, USA.

    Where is Columbiana, Ohio? About 60 minutes drive from Pittsburgh PA or 90 minutes from Cleveland OH.

  • How about Trans-Am Electronics on Canal Street!

  • You should start selling at hacker spaces. Heatsync labs to be exact. I would definitely pop in there more often if they had sparkfun stuff!

    • Imagine every hackerspace having a repurposed cigarette vending machine (if you can remember those) filled with components…

  • In Wichita, KS, try Lloyd’s Electronics. Granted, they’ve branched out into parakeets and they’re often quilting in the back room, but they’re still the only place in town to go when you want components, consignment, and kits.

  • In Wichita, KS, try Lloyd’s Electronics. Granted, they’ve branched out into parakeets and they’re often quilting in the back room, but they’re still the only place in town to go when you want components, consignment, and kits.

  • Just give us a heads up on the IPO and please offer stock on free day!

  • Centennial electronics in Colorado SPrings, a rare find. Fear it will become extinct.

    Possibly OEM electronics In Colorado springs, all used surplus, place is a gem, but may not be a fit for new product like Sparkfun stuff.

  • Hmm. One of the reasons I use SFE is because it is cheaper, and has more selection than retail stores. I do not know about anyone else, but I would not buy any other way than online unless the price was the same.

  • It looks like no one has mentioned Maine yet… There’s a little store near me called Coastal Hobbies. Kind of an old looking place. I’m sure there’d be much more interest if there was something new (for most of Maine it seems) in a local store. Besides, I could easily get ATmega328’s whenever I blow them! EDIT: Oops, forgot the wobsite.

  • AMSTERDAM!!! Expand to Nederland and resell through the Radio Rotor in Amsterdam: http://www.rotor.eu/

    It is a great place to get everything from a usb cable to random components/kits to a sweet sweet fluke.

  • Radio Shack and Ace Hardware (occasionally Home Depot) are the only places I get stuff for projects aside from the internet. Radio Shack says they are trying to get back to the DIY stuff. I really think SparkFun should approach Radio Shack with their retail line. It’s a huge move and production would have to be increased 10 fold but it just seems to be a perfect fit to me. Otherwise I would love to open up my own shop that just sold SparkFun products along with an expanded line of simple parts such as through hole resistors. I’d call it SparkParts!

  • In the Seattle-Bellevue area there’s Vetco http://www.vetco.net/ They’ve got Components, Vellemman stuff and other general electronics.

  • Tucson is also home to SWS Electronics. They’re more of a computer store nowadays but they do have an electronic parts section. http://www.shopsws.com/

  • You’ve just described this place http://www.danscraftsandthings.com/ - if you grew up where I did.

  • Orvac’s Electronics in Fullerton, CA (ORVAC.COM) Skycraft Parts in Orlando, FL (SkycraftSurplus.com)

  • Sparkfun widgets might fit in well at Tri-State Electronics in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. I haven’t been there in quite a while but they do carry a reasonable amount of ICs and components and such.

  • You’ve already gotten Fry’s here in Silicon Valley and I understand your reluctance to take on another “small” chain. So I recommend D&J Hobby (www.djhobby.com) in Campbell, CA. It is exactly the kind of place you seem to be looking for. It’s exactly as described above in your blog.

  • I’d love to see you at Van’s Electronics in Ida, MI. (734)269-6196 There focus is a bit more on radio stuff and older components but they are pretty much all there is besides RadioShack in the area. Ida is a small town but they are the nearest non-chain component store coming from Toledo, OH or Monroe, MI as well as several other small towns.

    You might be a good fit at Electronic Connection in Westland, MI. They are probably the only non-chain electronics store for the AnnArbor, MI area as well as the Western Metro Detroit area. (734) 595-6655

    When I worked in the area I used to go to Abel Electronics in Saint Clair Shores, MI. I think you would be a good fit for them.(586)777-8232.

    I don’t think any of these guys have a decent online presence but that’s kind of normal for the non-chain stores isn’t it?

    • I would second the Electronics Connection in Westland, MI. I think they are the only store in the area that carries a great selection of electronic parts.

      Also, for a small hobby store take a look at http://www.nankinhobby.com.

    • Of all the places to see the name of Ida, Michigan, let alone Van’s, I never thought I’d see either mentioned here at SparkFun. :) I grew up in Ida, graduated in 1998, moved to Detroit in 2003, and then Grand Rapids in 2005. Small world, eh?

      I second that Van’s would be an interesting and very convenient outlet for SparkFun’s products. I’m not sure if they still deal with radio stuff as much as when I lived there (it was mostly CB & VHF, IIRC), but I could easily see that same clientele going for the embedded products. Sure would beat driving all the way up to MicroCenter on 14-Mile just to have a SparkFun product right now, or having to deal with RadioShack’s limited selection.

      As for my current locale, it’s a little more difficult to really narrow down where I’d like to see SparkFun products, and I mean that in a good way. There are a number of independent, thriving, and relevant small businesses in the area, from Grand Rapids westward. But the ones that come to mind when we talk of hobbyists are Rider’s Hobby Shop [ridershobby.com], Hobby World @ (616)538-6130, and Sidetrax Hobbies @ (616)249-9504.

      For fabric stores, I’d recommend Field’s Fabrics [fieldsfabrics.com], without hesitation. They have seven stores in West Michigan, and have been here since 1953.

      My final recommendation is a place on Division near downtown, called T&W Electronics [twelectronics.com]. Their website hardly does the place justice; they have a vast selection of components and supplies, much of it ‘old school’ but many newer items as well. From individual capacitors and resistors, to PCB fabrication supplies, or even NOS vacuum tubes, they have virtually everything ya need for most electronics projects. What’s more, the GVSU engineering college is a short hop away, so there’s a good opportunity to fill an empty niche.

  • There’s a local computer shop just across town that’s rather well-known here for having a lot of the “odd stuff”, and the SparkFun line would be a great addition to their inventory:

    Computers and More

    http://www.computersmore.com/

    350 East Lakewood Blvd

    Holland, Michigan 49424 616.396.5222

    Hobby Lobby is another one that springs to mind, but they are a rather large chain and I’m sure you’ve heard of them before. :-) (Just consider this my vote for them.)

    – John

    Innotec IT Team

  • I would suggest Skycraft in Orlando FL. (http://www.skycraftsurplus.com/) It’s where I go to start any product, and they do carry some retail things, even though they are mostly a surplus store carrying leftovers from the simulation and defense industries here in Orlando (they have various missile cases hanging from the ceiling from Lockheed and Boeing), and nothing makes me more interested in a surplus store than coming down the road and seeing a UFO parked on their roof.

    Seriously though, most of the tooling they have there is extremely outdated and cheap. It would be nice to be able to buy soldering irons/hot air rework stations/Arduinos/shields from them rather than wait for the mail to get to me.

    • I second this. (Well, fifth or sixth it; a lot of people have mentioned Skycraft at this point.) In Central Florida, it’s the best place to get anything electronics-related, and having SparkFun retail stuff there would be awesome.

  • Conectrol, S.A. in Madrid, Spain (http://www.conectrol.com/) is the most popular physical shop that supplies all kind of electronics.

    I’d love to see children from middle school visiting the shop and buying one of your kits :)

  • In the northern Virginia area, I am not aware of any decent electronics outlets, or surplus stores. However, we do have an awesome hobby store that may be interested in selling your retail packages. Hobby Hangar in Chantilly, VA: http://www.hhvastore.com/ They have helicopters, large and small r/c planes, gliders, powerboats, sailboats, rockets, kites, and a very good selection of hardware for building stuff, aluminum, fiberglass, plastic, etc.

    Oh, by the way if you go to Orlando, FL to visit Mickey, do take the time to visit Skycraft Surplus, it is an awesome place. Don’t try it on a Sunday as they are closed. If you are there and want to check out an awesome R/C store, check out Graves R-C http://www.gravesrc.com/, if they don’t have it, you probably don’t need it.

  • Here are a few more small hobby stores in the Western New York area that you may be interested in speaking with:

    • http://www.niagarahobby.com/
    • http://www.transit-station.com/
    • http://www.fieldshobby.com/

    I would also recommend taking a look at the Radio Equipment Corporation in Buffalo, NY. They are a small company that sells industrial and residential electronic equipment. They are not exactly a hobby store, but besides RadioShack they are the only place in the Buffalo area where you can buy electronic components.

    http://www.radioequip.com

  • -deleted-

  • I didn’t read them all but Michaels would be a great idea.

    Michaels

    http://www.michaels.com/

  • I would say that a store like “Discount Hobby Warehouse” would be a perfect fit, most hobby stores would. Unlike Frys or Radio Shack the people who normally work in hobby stores actually care about the items they sell and most importantly use them. I say “Discount Hobby Warehouse” becuase unlike most brick and mortor stores they beat most if not all online prices for the things they carry so there is no reason to go elsewhere. I have seeen Parallax items carried by Frys locally but they do not seem to have much demand though, nice but a limited audiance.

  • Gyro Hobbies! www.gyrohobbies.com 23052 Lake Forest Dr # C2 Laguna Hills, CA 92653-1325 (949) 583-1775

  • I like the idea of the model train stores.. In my town, that would be the “Train Depot”, in Mount Airy, MD (http://www.traindepotatmtairy.com/)

    I usually have occasion to go into that store once or twice per year, usually when getting the train out for Christmas, however, as well as your products would allow train enthusiasts to automate sensors and stuff, having your products in there would give me reason to go in there a LOT more often. I spent most of Friday on the road looking for a place to get an assortment of F-F jumper wires (to bridge headers on different boards) and after putting 90 miles on my car, came home emptyhanded, and am now waiting for an Internet shipment. I didn’t even THINK to go to the train store, but in hindsight, they probably had what I need..

    I’d also recommend “Electronics Plus” in Beltsville, MD - It’s a thriving Electronics store that caters to hobbiests and professionals. They seem to have abandoned their website, but I know they’re open still - They’re one of the places I went last Friday!

    -Steve

  • HobbyTown USA was already mentioned. I don’t know of another good place in my area.

    What I thought might be a good idea, especially for the small shops, is for SF to put together a package with a basic selection of products and a catalog for the rest. Just make it so that it would fit on a pegboard or a rotating wire rack.

  • If you guys are willing to get in on the canadian market, then I definitely recommend Addison Electronics the place is massive! Its in montreal quebec. Heres the link to their site http://www.addison-electronique.com/

  • Greenfield News and Hobby, in Greenfield WI (Milwaukee suburb):

    http://www.greenfieldnewsandhobby.com/

  • i wish i could find a few hobby places where im stationed in italy

  • In the Houston area, there’s a place called Electronic Parts Outlet. There are two locations, once part of the same business, now separately owned. One is on Fondren Road (epohouston.com) and the other is in Webster, near Johnson Space Center (epocomputers.com). Both places sell electronic kits of various kinds, alongside computer parts and electronic parts (duh).

    In San Antonio, check intertexelectronics.com. They were once part of a large Texas chain, but the chain closed. Today they sell parts, supplies, and tools - and kits! There also is a chain called Altex (altex.com) that carries kits. Altex has 9 locations in Texas.

    • I can confirm EPO Webster does have Sparkfun products (Wogster) pointed this out. I have not been to EPO houston yet.

  • The Electronics Parts Supermart in Santa Maria would be a good place to investigate; they’re one of very few electronics parts stores on the California central coast, and they carry a big selection of older electronic kits and things. I think I’ve even seen a few kits for old Apple or Apple ][ daughterboards in there, and they’re one of very few physical stores I’ve encountered where you can buy a MAX-232.

    They don’t have a website, but they’re easy to find on Google.

    Oh, and they have a working tube tester in the back.

  • I grew up haunting the isles of Halted - pronounced hal-ted - in Santa Clara, CA. They are a surplus, salvage electronics and technical junk dealer. Would be a great location as they really encourage electronics discovery.

    Nearby me now is Electronics Plus a small independent electronics store in San Rafael, CA.

    There is also one of my favorite hobby stores - D&J Hobby in Campbell, CA.

    Sadly my favorite closed down many years ago, but was the coolest R/C, model, and general hobby store around.

  • I would suggest talking to Jaycar in Australia/New Zealand. They are a chain, but they carry all sorts of kits and components. They are about the last place in Australia you can go to get this kind of thing.

  • ax-man in the twin cities - http://ax-man.com/

  • Random idea.. but have you thought about making a mobile retail booth. I was thinking you could see a lot of stuff at robotic competitions etc.

  • For the Chicagoland area, I second American Science and Surplus. http://www.sciplus.com/ A wealth of built-it-yourself and crazy parts of all kinds. :)

  • There are not a lot of choices here on Maui. Basically there is Ben Franklin’s for general crafting, Radio Shack for electronics, and Island Hobbies for RC (and paintball). Most of what I get is by mail order… from sparkfun, adafruit, and makerShed/Jameco. Using Digikey for large quantities of basic parts may be an option.

    Radio Shack’s recent addition of arduino parts is interesting. I rather support my friends at the above companies, but in a pinch I have bought gotta-have-it-now parts at RS. When we get a good facility for our Makerspace, I’m hoping to install a vending machine for parts.

  • Bervig Hardware in Alamosa Colorado is an independent hardware store and “authorized” Radio Shack and True Value dealer. Recently they started carrying Midwest’s Balsa line in response to requests from the local model airplane people. (That’d be me)

    They work pretty hard to keep transistors and leds, resistors and capacitors, chips and switches on hand for the local makers/tinkerers and while they carry stuff FROM radio shack, I don’t think they are beholden TO Radio Shack.

    They are the kind of place that has lots of bins and drawers of stuff you haven’t seen for 20 years but by golly, they have it when you need it.

  • Seriously wish there was an outlet here in Wellington NZ, there is a World Of Wearable Arts festival that is held here every year. Everyone who has come to these shows is floored by it. Ready access to Sparkfun products would take the local designs through the stratosphere (possibly literally).

    There aren’t any Ma and Pa hobby shops locally here anymore, but you guys could easily make a profitable shop front. (slight bias towards you guys, it is my dream to front an NZ franchise for Sparkfun)

  • I don’t have any idea where I’d find an electronics store around here that wasn’t a RadioShack.

    But for hobby stores, there’s only one good one around, but it’s super good. The Time Machine : http://www.timemachinehobby.com/

    • +1 on the Time Machine! SparkFun kits would fit right in there.

      Another hobby place in the area is Amatos: http://www.amatostoyandhobby.com/

  • doah!!!!! tripple tap… sorry for the spam. delete me and my double tap sibling above oh mighty mods if thou doth wish it so. [Edit] - wow, glad to see I am not the only that had trouble with posting a message here… I ended up posting the same thing three times and more below experienced the same issue.

  • doah!!! double tap.

  • !!Yea!!! MicroCenter! I live and work just a few miles from one. I dropped a wad there over Christmas on SFE retail packages in part to encourage them to continue carrying the line but more because I am such a hopeless impulse buyer. That red packaging chalk full of gadget goodness just screems TAKE ME HOME! RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!

  • Please stay out of my town… I’m just getting started and I want to do EXACTLY what you are doing. I don’t need the competition. However, if you want to hire me, I might be (easily) swayed.

  • Colpar Hobby in Aurora Colorado is a great little hobby shop.

  • How about Jameco and Mouser? Not brick and mortor, but they carry Parallax stuff. Why not SparkFun?

    On a side note, you might want to look into going to the Dayton Hamvention in Dayton, OH this year. TENS OF THOUSANDS of people go each year and 95% of them are electronics nuts. It takes an entire day just to walk the place.

  • …A Hacking Store would carry some…

  • in virginia on the east coast I would suggest two:

    www.priestelectronics.com - They have all the harder to find stuff from low to high power applications, even some really old looking velleman kits. I go here whenever I can because ratshack sucks!

    http://www.debbiesrcworld.com - an epic RC store!

    • Hey thanks! We were in Norfolk scrounging for parts before heading out to Wallops Island for our launch. We will keep these places handy in the back of our mind. Had to drive to ocean city to get a relay last year. From the sounds of it, this is much much better.

      Oh yeah, and sparkfun should put their stuff their too ;)

  • This would be a natural for Elliot Electronics in Tucson, AZ- the last “real” electronics store in town. Now I have relocated to eastern Washington where all we have are a few Radio Shacks, which I admit have at least made an effort to provide some basic components and hobby stuff, after nearly eliminating all of it by the early 90’s.

    I miss Elliot Electronics though. Sure I have the Internet, but I could always fall back on them in a pinch.

  • How about http://metro-electronics.com/ in Sacramento, CA? Other then that it would have to be fry’s electronics or radio shack…

  • Sayal electronics has multiple locations in the Toronto area. They already have about 1/5 of each location dedicated to tables of hobby stuff :)

    http://sayal.com/

    Also their website sucks…

  • Also, Caboose Hobbies in Denver might be an interesting place to check out. It’s a hobby store with a focus on trains, but they’ve started having a lot more childrens' products recently, and even sell a few circuitry items for building your own train sets.

  • I second, third, and forth fry’s electronics… they are sick of me there. but they also just opened up a hobbylobby near me. (www.hobbylobby.com) It would be nice to have some of your items close by for those just in case moments.

  • There’s a local electronic parts and supply store called Ra-Elco (http://raelcoelectronicsslc.com/index.html) here that might be worth a shot. It’s one of those electronic parts stores from the old days with the competent guys behind the counter who know exactly what you’d need for your project, whole walls of parts you can peruse, and locally owned and operated.

  • There is: Greenbrook Electronics in Greenbrook NJ. I moved to SoCal recently so I’ll have to go to Fry’s now I guess…

  • SkyCraft is a small whole sale electronics store that sells everything from old missiles to LEDs and they are located in Orlando Florida I am sure they would like to get some Micro-controllers in their hands.

  • SkyCraft is a small whole sale electronics store that sells everything from old missiles to LEDs and they are located in Orlando Florida I am sure they would like to get some Micro-controllers in their hands.

  • In Winnipeg (home town of Princess Auto {www.princessauto.com}, but I mentioned them already), I can think of 4 places where your products might do well.

    1) Active Electronics (active123.com) - the place I go to for bits and pieces - way better selection and price than RadioShack / The Source.

    2) Toad Hall Toys - The store in Winnipeg for model railroads. Lots of educational toys as well.

    3) Eliminator RC (eliminator-rc.com) - The car centric R/C store in Wpg. They carry all things R/C, but seem to focus on the cars.

    4) Cellar Dwellar (cellardwellerhobby.com) - The airplane/helicopter R/C store in Wpg. Again, they carry all things R/C, but seem to focus on the birds.

    There are probably others.

  • PrincessAuto! The definitive tinkerer store up in the Great White North!

  • Munro Electronics http://gomunro.com/welcome.html Saint John N.B. Canada

    They are a local (to me) retail supplier of all manner of electronic components and parts, as well as lighting and computer stuff. Not a chain store.

  • Get a deal with McDonalds or Burger King to do something like their Monopoly giveaways. You scratch off the sticker(which is a resistor, and you scratch off the bands to see the color), and if you get a certain value, you win a McFlurry(and an LED). Grand Prize: Wild Thumper Chassis and control board.

  • There is a store in Colorado Springs called OEM Parts. I go there for all of my electronic parts, they have everything. Everything except for Sparkfun products! If you could set up a deal with them that would be awesome.

  • I’m lucky enough to live down the street from Circuit Specialists. I love the warehouse feel of the place and friendly staff.

  • Cables and Connectors in central CT would be a good place. They sell every thing electronic, anything you could possibly need for electronics. If I can’t find it at Radioshack I go there and they’ll have it, reasonably priced too. They have some electronics kits. I haven’t found arduino or servos there though.

  • what about small overseas stores? It would be awesome to sell SFE kits here in Costa Rica

  • I grew up in the South Hills of Pittsburgh with A.B. Charles (http://www.ab-charles.com/). Bought many a model rocket there.

    On the East side of Pittsburgh, J&C: http://www.jchobbies.com/

    These places are as mom & pop as you’re going to get around here.

  • A great store that I go to all the time in Portland, OR. is Surplus Gizmos, it would be great to have Sparkfun products a 20 min drive from downtown. They could make a good distributor for you guys. They have absolutely EVERYTHING I need besides SFE products.

    Fry’s and Radioshack would also be great.

    • Funny, when I started my post below yours hadn’t hit the comment stream yet. Great minds…

  • I have a fantastic idea that I think you guys will really love.

    You should supply to local, school (especially art schools), or chain art supply stores. I would love to be able to go down the street to an art store and buy some LEDs for whatever model I’m building.

    Art is becoming more and more electronic, especially at design schools and schools with big Industrial design departments.

    For example, you should get in touch with John Maeda, someone in the Industrial Design department, or at one of the supply stores (RISD Store and RISD Store:3D) at my school, The Rhode Island School of Design. Providence is a huge arts capitol, and our president, John Maeda, was THE guy that kicked off processing/arduino.

  • I live in Thornton, CO. The places I go are Radio Shack or order from Sparkfun and drive to Boulder to pick up the parts.

    There is an old run down electronics store in Denver and I have been told to check out JB Saunders in Boulder also.

    Sadly most of these trips are an hour or more round trip from my house and there are no small hobby shops around.

    As for other materials I use Ace Hardware. They have such a wonderful selection of connectors that I dread trying to find something similar at the large stores. Ace also has the most knowledgeable sales associates too. Ace may not have the lumber selection but rarely is that the need for an electronics project.

  • http://rccountryhobbies.com/ - good fit for what you are looking for.

    http://towerhobbies.com/ - RC staples

  • http://www.hobbiesnow.com or http://www.familyfunhobbies.com in the Trenton NJ area, Radio Shack for a national presence, sticking with craft shops, you might consider http://www.acmoore.com or http://www.michaels.com

  • I’ve noticed that Radio Shack has several Make products, arduino UNO, mega, and a couple of shields. They are trying.

    We have a little store here in Huntsville, AL, that has a website that makes you think it is a chain. Even the link to it’s location is plural. “Locations”, even though they have only one store. They sell Ham Radio related stuff and computers. http://www.gigaparts.com. They also have a monthly quiz giveaway to get people to go to the site everyday.

  • In Athens, GA, I’d like to suggest the University bookstore…but they were bought out by Follett.

    However, we do have an art supply store that is local and they do a lot of business with university students. Not sure it’s the target demographic you’re looking for, exactly, but a lot of creative people wander around in The Loft: http://loftartsupply.com/

  • I work downtown Downers Grove, IL, and there are a couple of shops here who may be interested in offering your product. The first, Calson Paint, (630) 968-2977, is an arts and craft store.

    The other two are Fair Game, (630) 963-0640, which is a board game store, but it has a very, very nerdy clientele, and My Favorite Toy Store, (630) 493-1400, which also has other kits like this, though it probably wouldn’t be as good of a match.

  • Hobby Lobby is where I get a lot of my odds and ends. If I need something electronic, Radio Shack is pretty much all there is locally. There are R/C hobby stores, but their markup makes them impossible to shop at. There are a few electrical stores that sell components and such, but you have to have a business license to buy anything from them. Perhaps SFE should start a chain of retail outlets with small hackerspaces in them.

  • Hobby stores are dying in my area (San Jose, CA). There’s one catering to electric cars (and a bit of general R/C hobbying), and one catering to electric flight. There’s definitely a cultural difference between the two markets. But it’s hard to find places any more.

    Around here we have three Techshop locations. They each have a retail store. You should try to get into those. They’re open 7 days a week, like 9 am to midnight.

    Radio Shack is not a bad idea, given their recent push into the Maker space. Not exactly “little box,” though. There’s also Fry’s. I’ve seen Parallax stuff in Fry’s, and I thought I’d seen SparkFun things there, too.

    Locally, there’s also Anchor Electronics to consider.

    • I second TechShop; they’re primarily a hackerspace, so there are already lots of people around working on projects, and they have a small retail space with various tools and fasteners. Sparkfun kits and sensors would be a great addition.

    • I second Anchor Electronics. http://www.anchor-electronics.com/

  • In MA there is YOUDOIT Electronics located at 40 Franklin St. Needham, MA 02494.

    In NJ there is Electronix Express A Division of R.S.R. Electronics, Inc. 900 Hart Street Rahway, New Jersey 07065

  • http://www.priestelectronics.com/ in Norfolk, VA

    I’ve been told they have everything a electronics geek like me needs. I’ve never been because i need so many red boxes for my projects.

  • Here in kelowna, bc we have a couple smaller shops that specialize in one off and or bulk components (resistors, transistors, jellybean ICs, breadboards, PCB fab chemicals, etc). A smaller brick and mortar digi-key if you will. I have always wanted to see arduino and other hobbyist level stuff in there.

    Also, on an unrelated note, your security cert is still buggered.

  • Debco Electronics(electronics shop), King Arthur’s Court (toy store), and Boardwalk Hobby Shop (toys and board games) are three great places in Cincinnati, OH.

  • I’m actually considering opening an electronics store here in central MA, but that’s a few eyars off yet. I’d love to sell some SparkFun stuff!

    • If you ever get that far, let us know!

      • As soon as I’m done getting my BS in EE I’ll be working towards it. Only Radio Shack here as well, no useful “bits and pieces” suppliers anywhere (that I can find). I hate having to mail order when I need it now, but it is what it is I guess.

  • Although I no longer live there, Hobby Hut in Audubon PA is a great spot. They helped me out a few time scrounging together what I need when I couldn’t find the stuff else where. They do mostly RC stuff but have an isle of rockets and science kits.

    As far as I can tell there are no local hobby stores here in Laramie other than quilting and scrapbooking shops. But I’m only a short drive down to the HQ, maybe you guys should open a small shop in the lobby for us local folk.

  • Southern California:

    JK Electronics in Westminster (Don’t let their outdated website fool you, it’s a great mom-n-pop shop. Mom and Pop are usually in the back of the store doing the accounting while their son manages the front).

    Orvac Electronics in Fullerton and Pasadena.

    North/South CA: Marvac Electronics in Costa Mesa/Santa Barbara/Sacramento.

    • Being in Orange County myself, I second JK Electronics and your other suggestions. Also want to mention Electronics Warehouse in Riverside.

  • My problem is that in Napa/vallejo in Cali dont have a large tinkerer presence. Therefore there is one hobby store in Napa that focuses on trains and nothing in vallejo but a radio shack (DIY movement my a**). I don’t even really know anyone with my interests. I’d love a hackerspace, but I don’t see that happening. I think radioshack needs help with the DIY movement but I understand filling large stores everywhere is a gamble. Is anyone here from my area?

  • The NYU computer store has become a useful place for me for last-minute component needs, specifically sensors, servos, XBees, and arduinos. I’d love to see some of these retail kits in university bookstores. Perhaps there’s an option to connect with the folks at the Interactive Technologies Program at NYU (and similar programs at other universities) and develop some retail kits that fit with their curriculum needs. I think more customers than just the students of those programs could benefit from purchasing kits that have been designed for teaching/learning.

    • Oh wow. Same here. I buy nearly all of the things I know RS doesn’t know how to carry, there. The two Arduinos and the FTDI BOB units. In fact both BOBs are originally Sparkfun items, and the second Arduino is as well. (Plus the USB widget that it uses.) Ideally we need to convince, or confuse RS into expanding its line of not invented by them kits and assorted items. I recognized the Arduino kits as from your next door neighbor (think magazine name), and what they need is to carry a preselected Sparkfun list. I’d say twice what Microcenter thinks it needs.

  • AAA Hobbies in New Jersey.

  • Vetco, Seattle/Bellevue, great local electronic store with expert staff, pretty much the only place for discrete components around here.

    • I second this! Great place. There also used to be a place call Active Electronics next door to Vetco, don’t know if they’re still there though.

      There’s a place North of Seattle (in Mt. Vernon WA) called Skagit Whatcom Electronics that is also very good. (www.electronic-supply.com)

      I’ve toyed with the idea of opening a small brick-n-mortar as there’s nothing here in my town. Don’t know if a college town of 70K people could support it though. Might have to “also” carry homebrew supplies to make it pencil out. (two great tastes that go great together!)

      • Yeah I remember Active Electronics in Bellevue WA !!! They were a great company, but they left us to go back north to Canada. I used to have their catalog (yeah it’s only 20 year old, but I kept it.) I learn how to etch PBC because of them.

        And back in the 80’s Belleuve was Silicon Valley of Seattle Washington. There were EE companies all over, where you could pick up the whole set of national semiconductor, TI books or Motorola data books for free. I remember going to see Data IO and getting tons of data books from them. Also got my first introduction to ORCAD thanks to them (Orcad another great company gone from history- yeah you can buy some form of it now, but it’s not the same.)

        And another one was Radar Electronic (Radar Inc) that used to be in down town Seattle. I spent many of hours there, and bought lots of stuff. They left Seattle and moved to Bothell, WA and it was never the same. They used to know their customers. That included all the college kids that would go get surplus from them. Last time I visited them in Bothell, you couldn’t find anything you could use and the guy in their big old costco type ware house couldn’t be bothered to answer any of your questions. I miss the old days.

        There was also another store that used to be down the street from Costco in South Center, I can’t remember their name, but they were a fun store to spend hours looking everything. I used to get all my PCB supplies from them. I bought from these guys my through hole drill bits from these guys. They had bins and bins of just surplus electrical parts.

        I almost forgot there was a major Electronic store that use to be up by East Gate N of I-90 (right next to the yoga workout class). I can’t remember their name anymore (Newark Electronics??), but they were a big power house and they had a store that the average joe could by small quantities at. They shut it down, and now the only time they will talk to you is if you were buying a 10 million parts of one thing. I used to get my resistors from them. A box of 1 thousand resistors used to cost $3. That was when Radio Shack used to sell you 10 resistors for a $1. And I bought 20 of their 470,000uF 35V capacitors, each the size of the 32oz beer cans for a regulator I was building. And I think that’s where I picked up a 110V to 12V 10amp transformer for said regulator, along with three Fairchild’s 5V 3amp regulators and one heck of a big heat sink. That’s when TTL ruled the day, and before the HC as in 74HC00 came along.

        • I don’t know if you’re considering beyond American boarders but Active electronics is still has a few locations here and it is the only place I know of as Radio Shack is no longer in Canada. The one in Winnipeg even has a little solarbotics display that your stuff would go great beside.

  • HiTek Wear L.L.C.

  • My plans are to open a fashion technology store front sometime late this year. May I get a list of lily pad whole sale prices please? http://www.hitekwear.com

  • In Iowa, there are stores scattered in the larger cities called Hobby Lobby. That is usually where I went for random hobby supplies. There are also a few smaller Ma/Pa stores as well.

  • In the Salt Lake City area Radio Shack is the easiest to get to. I think the parts are rather pricy though. There is a place somewhere in the area that has lots of components that Radio Shack won’t have in store. The only problem with this other place is they are only open Monday through Friday and close early in the day. I am at work when they are open so they aren’t public friendly. So the easiest way to get stuff is through mail order.

  • Not sure if they already carry stuff, but a non-chain in the SF area is Talbot’s Toys. I think that would be a good fit.

    http://www.talbotstoyland.com/

  • My local hobby shop has mostly been selling RC, model RR, and plastic models. They do also carry model rockets but nothing in the electronics line (except for RC stuff). They used to be a small two man outfit but after moving a half dozen times (he moved every time the landlord wanted to raise the rent and he could find someplace cheaper) he’s finally found a location that he REALLY likes and has managed to GROW. Maybe you could contact him and see if he would carry electronic kits (He is not close to a RatShack so it might work…) http://www.hobbysuperstore.com/

  • How about Fistells(http://www.fistells.com/) in downtown Denver? At least it would allow locals to support a Brick-and-mortar local mom and pop shop.

  • South of Columbus, Ohio in Lancaster there is Slaters Hardware. It has quite a variety, everything from hops to helicopters.

  • There’s this place in Seattle near me; Greenwood Space Travel Supply

    There’s another place in Seattle; Matrix Create Space but it doesn’t seem geared towards everyone or able to supply that much kit.

    But have you ever thought of actually having a franchised store? SparkFun is such a great concept that I think a physical store in somewhere other than Colorado would be a great idea.

    SparkFun the Store!

  • How about a local sewing store? Rocky Mountain Sewing and Vacuum might be a good place for Lilypads.

    Four locally-owned stored in Colorado, enthusiastic staff, and classes. Seems like a good match.

    (Not affiliated, just a customer.)

    http://www.rockymountainsewing.com/

  • www.rcbuyerswarehouse.com is the place for me. It’s mainly r/c stuff with some rocketry, model cars, and the like. It would be nice if they would carry your stuff but I think the ownership is a little old to broaden their horizons although some are into the new fangled quadrotors and that’s a big jump for those old time r/c types!

  • Campus TV in Norman, OK is my go to for small parts, and the old guy that runs it has taught me more about electronics than some of my ece classes.

    http://www.whiskeyjoe.com/

  • L&S Electronics is Johnson City, TN… going inside is like opening a door to the past where components and parts are hung everywhere on the walls and if you needed anything they can find it… from rare tubes to the newest Atmel. Give these guys a jingle!

    http://www.lselectronics.com/

  • My wife and I are frequent visitors of Hobby Lobby and Niagara Hobby and Craft Mart. Hobby Lobby isn’t really a mom & pop, but my wife will pretty much clear any purchases I make from there.

    And the Strong Museum of Play (Rochester, NY) would be a good place to setup something. Sparkfun and the Strong share a lot of the same values regarding playful learning.

  • Our #1 local electronics store is Tanner Electronics north of Dallas.

    Oh, wait… they already carry Sparkfun stuff…

  • Have you considered the Boy Scouts of America? They carry over-priced and under capable kits now that could see improvements.

  • Skycraft Surplus in Winter Park Fl. They have rockets bolted to their building! I spend hours their shopping for grommets, springs, and stuff no one can quite identify already, why not add sparkfun’s stuff?

  • The best electronic supply house in Tucson (nearly the only one left, actually) is Elliot Electronic Supply. You can find them at http://elliottelectronicsupply.com/ContactUs.html

    It’s not a fabric shop but it is the place where all the local tinkerers go to pick up parts locally. They have an assortment of Vellemann kits and I’m sure they could sell Sparkfun kits too.

  • The only physical place to get real electronics parts within a 30 mile drive from here is Green Brook Electronics (http://www.greenbrookelectronics.com/). Otherwise, it’s Radio Snack, where you’re sure to be disappointed unless you just want a common connector or cable.

  • Electronics Parts Outlet (Houston Tx) http://www.epohouston.com/index.htm

    great place :)

  • Indiana? Hobbyland??

    South Bend?

    • I’m from Mishawaka, so you’re thinking of the same Hobbyland!

      • Cool! I was also going to ask if you were from SB, but AD8BC was quicker. Clay HS class of ‘03 here.

      • Excellent! Clay HS class of ‘93 here.

        I remember waaaay back when Hobbyland was out on Lincolnway West near Downtown SB. Back in my young model railroad days.

  • Litchfield Hills, Connecticut.

    http://www.rchobbiesandmore.com/. its really the only hobby kind of store in the area, that i know of.

    it has a great selection of RC stuff, servos, wood, plastics, carbon fiber etc.

    hobby and trophy world is another one but that really doesn’t have much. Slot Cars, balsa wood, die-cast collectables, and thats about it.

    • wow i forgot entirely of pilgrim electronics (www.pilgrimelectronics.com/)

      they are a distrubuter of things, interesting place, no real storefront, just call and place an order or fax one over.

  • That’s it, I need to start bugging one of our local hobby places to get in on this. I don’t understand how a modern hobby store can not carry electronics. shrug Maybe it’s just me…

  • “As we pulled into the Town and Country shopping center”, now your in my area, will be there this afternoon to check out Harbor Freight solar products. This could be a place to sell your kits. I know they sell all Chinese merchandise but I think that most of the people around here think that Colorado is a foreign country. Wondering if the picture is enhanced, looks like there may be a water rocket in the mix and why is one of the rocket trails black?

    • Seems that you have never heard of High Power model rocketry. The rockets are bigger, and the engines are too. The one with a black smoke trail is what we call a “sparky” engine, because there is a titanium sponge in the propellant that burns and sparkles as it is spit out of the engine. The ones with red trails have strontium nitrate mixed in with the propellant to give them the red color. If you would like to learn more, check out one of these sites: http://aerotech-rocketry.com/ (A major manufacturer of HPR engines), http://rocketryforum.com/ (A great source of info), http://www.nar.org/ (One of the two bodies that regulates rocketry). I am really into HPR, so I was excited when I saw that picture. The article was disappointing for me, because the picture really had nothing to do with it.

  • “THNX!”

  • What does “PTH” mean in “PTH Kit”?


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