Nobody gonna BREAK-A MY STRIDE. (pt. III)

PART THREE (and, thankfully, last part): The Army Surplus Store.

What are the first places you think of when you guys want to find great vintage or used goodies? Thrift stores? Flea markets? Estate sales? Your zazzy friend's or cooler sister's closest when they're asleep in the middle of the night? I gots two words for you: BOOORRRRRRRINNG (and yes, boring becomes two words when you stretch it long enough).

Next time you get that "I-needs-to-buy-something-before-I-turn-into-a-moody-girl-monster" nervous tic in your eye, try your local Army surplus store.

BOOM. I  JUST dropped some knowledge on you right now. I DOUBLE DARE YOU (ohhhh, a Mark Summers reference).

Before you wet your pants from the possible shopping excitement, here are some tips to help you guys navigate this unfamiliar territory:

How To Make Your Way Through A Surplus Store:
001/ IT WILL/MIGHT BE INTIMIDATING AT FIRST: I may come off as totally ass-facey and self-assured in my posts, but lemme tell you a little secret: I ain't (at least, not always). When my sister and I were standing in the parking lot of a surplus store near her apartment, a gallion-ty thoughts were going through my head: "What kind of people are going to be inside?", "What kind of people work there?", "Will I somehow offend the veteran with the hook hand and eye patch?" (ohhh bad joke. don't gets angry at me, hooked arm/eye patched/veterans of the great USA people).

Then we walked through the doors (I think I made Jaya go in first, ha ha) and all those questions just melted away. There were couples buying camping supplies; there was an asian lady buying some basic survival supplies; there was a dude who was yakking on about the Patriot Act and trying to find button-down shirt. All kinds of regular jack offs (hahaha, some of the things that I'm typing just sound sooo mean! Sorry, but half of the time I'm referencing/quoting television. "regular jack offs" reference? my fav: metalocalyspe).

If you're still sketched out, just realize that any store is just happy to get any kind of business in this crap-tastic economy. And you can't do any worse than my sister: she teetered into the store with 4" cream-colored platform wedges and almost-white blonde hair.

002/ LOOK EVERYWHERE IN THE STORE: The reason I decided to go to the surplus store was because I couldn't really find the army green jacket I've looking for... and guess what? I didn't find it there either.

But you know what I did find? Cheeeeap beanie caps in various colors and sizes; A hat for people longing to be the Captain in a "Captain and Tennille" cover band; Cooool canvas-covered canteens for hippies who don't want to cover the planet with their plastic bottles.

No, I didn't find my dream army jacket but I came away with two purses, a belt fannypack, and the most awesome leather wallet (and a gold whistle for my sister's necklace collection). Don'ts believe me?? Check out the pictures below!!

003/ GO IN WITH A GOOOD ATTITUDE: Hmmm, that sounds like New Age-y advice but it might help some of you. I know if I feel shitty when I go shopping, I end up acting like a dick and a fool and I don't spend the time looking for hidden gems. And who knows, if you act nice and ask for help from the sales staff, you might get the story about the origins of an AWESOME bag (mine came from China!).

004/ "I DON'T GOTS A SURPLUS STORE NEAR ME!": I know some whiny babies out there might not have a surplus store near them (or they didn't look hard enough!), then, like everything else, go to the internet! Back in the day, Jaya and I signed up for Cheaper Than Dirt's free catalogue and found some very usable bags and small duffles. I suggest you sign up for the catalogue because it's STREETS AHEAD (hahahahah) of looking through the website. Plus, if you thumb through the catalogue in a public place it might stop strangers from striking up a conversation with you (or maybe the complete opposite???).

005/ "LESS YAP YAP, MORE SNAP SNAP!": That's my awkward segue into PICTURE MONTAGE TIME!!

A Map bag:: I'm gonna try to sell this on my Etsy store (and yes, it's still empty. booo on me).:
Map Bag.
Map bag.
An Austrian Belt Pouch:: Another Etsy item. It fits on almost any belt; it  relieves you from wearing a purse at shows and other "bag-unfriendly" outtings.:
New Fannypack.
New Fannypack.
A Swiss Post Bag:: This bag can hold ANYTHING: tons and tons of laundry; that pile of dirty magazines strewn around your room you don't want your friends to see (I know you have Teen Bop, TigerBeat, and Playgirl under your mattresses); the clothes you keep on stealing from your frenemy/sister; a couple of dead bodies (ohhh, I'm forcing myself not to make crass "dead baby" jokes)., etc etc. Size? About 3.5 ft. tall, maybe 18" across:
Giant Bag.
Giant Bag.
A Leather Wallet with Chain:: I was contemplating buying this beautiful wallet but the price was off-putting. $60?! My sister found something similar at a flea market for $5 (granted, awesome mountain landscape not included) and now it was MY TURN TO HAVE A LOVELY LEATHER WALLET. I love it's color; I love it's simplicity; and yes, I love the chain, too. I loved it so much that I quickly transfered all my contents of my old wallet into it before taking a decent picture.
New Leather Wallet.
A Chinese Shoulder Bag:: My new favorite purse. PERIOD. And whaaaat? Yes, it turns into a backpack (90s dreammmmings coming true):
New Purse.
New Purse.

And so I'm not a tease, Matthew Wilder's BREAK MY STRIDE:


  1. those are amazing finds.

    the army surplus store is so underrated!

  2. Ooh girl, why you always up in my head. I used to shop at Army Surplus Stores all the time and have been thinking about visiting one again sometime soon.

    P.S. Me want that Chinese shoulder bag. Me want.

  3. dang girl, you are making me wish the army surplus store in my town never closed down (they took away the salvation army too, wtf bayonne, w.t.f.). that map bag is too cool!

    1. you're so funny, omg, i cracked up like 5 times reading this

  4. This is brilliant. I never know what to do when it comes to thrift shopping -- I'm such an impulsive shopper! Though I am still a little weirded out by wearing something that has been worn (quite possibly to death) by a stranger, I am working on overcoming this fear.

    well after this, I should think nothing of falling down stairs