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What is an Army Surplus Store?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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An army or military surplus store is a store which sells extra goods manufactured for the national military. Usually, the goods for sale in an army surplus store are not current issue, although if a surplus of material is generated for military use and it cannot be disbursed, it may appear in a store. Munitions are not generally found for sale, but plenty of other useful items are. Many people shop at army surplus stores because the prices tend to be low and the equipment is usually of good quality.

Most militaries are supplied by a number of companies which generate everything needed from destroyers to uniforms. The military places a large order for supplies, which are fabricated and then shipped to the military. Typically, the military retains a surplus of supplies to ensure that all servicemen and women will be well fitted out for combat. As supplies age or fall out of usage, the surplus is sold at auction, usually to private dealers, who in turn sell it to the public.

Typically, an army surplus store dealer can get a large volume of goods very cheaply, allowing him or her to sell them at a low cost to consumers. Common supplies include uniform components such as pants, shoes, and jackets, along with ammunition cases, gas masks, tents, and similar equipment. The range of colors may be limited to army green, but the equipment is generally sturdy and useful. Many campers use an army surplus store to outfit themselves, as do members of paramilitary organizations who want to adopt army gear.

Security guards and policeman may pick up gear at an army surplus store. Many of these professionals can also order goods through industry specific catalogs, but boots and similar supplies can sometimes be acquired more cheaply at an army surplus store. Hunters often take advantage of the cheap supplies at an army surplus stores, picking up ammunition belts, cases, and other well constructed equipment at low cost.

A military surplus store is, of course, not limited to the army. Many supplies acquire materials from multiple services, such as the army and the navy, or sell material under the broad banner of "military surplus." When military surplus is sold at auction, dealers are generally not picky about which service it comes from. As a result, Marine fatigues can be found next to Navy-issue radio components and around the corner from Army tents. The broad selection of items at an army surplus store is usually useful to someone, although it may take some hunting to turn up needed equipment.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon75950 — On Apr 08, 2010

Great article.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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