Love-hymn for hardware-hacker-heaven in Shanghai

Dave sez, "On a trip to Shanghai to install an artwork, my cohorts and I stumbled on an area along Beijing street that was heaven for hardware geeks like me. I've loved hardware stores all my life, but I've never seen anything quite like this. I shot way too much video, and even felt compelled to sing about it later. It was that good."

China is full of places like this -- Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai... It's the world's factory, and there's plenty of making stuff all over the place.

Hardware Heaven (Thanks, Dave!)


  1. This is very cool.

    On a side note and more importantly, BOOM BOOM POW!!!! – wow nice re-design of BB. I thought I was on the wrong site – lol – twice! Keep up the great work as always.

    1. Oh really? I think the larger sized text is nice . . . but I also thought my ClearType got turned off. The main typeface in the articles is not nearly as clear as in these comments.

  2. Japan used to be like this, but now it’s just another consumerist society — a nation of traders, not makers. Which means people are (mostly) richer and wealthier, but the real magic is probably gone forever.

  3. There’s a place like this in Tai-Chung, Taiwan. I like the “Chain Brothers”‘ booths. One sells the blocks and other stuff to hold up and rotate the chains around; one sells hooks, clamps and other stuff to put on the end of the chains; and the last sells the actual chains.

  4. I live in Shanghai, and go to Beijing East Road about once a week to buy hardware — electronic components, screws, router bits, etc. There’s a lot more “heavy” hardware than the Shenzhen equivalent, but not as much tiny surface-mount stuff. Unfortunately, access to this marketplace has one drawback: I can’t view youtube videos.

  5. Cortlandt Street in Manhattan, New York City, was like this in the 1950’s and 1960’s before the Twin Towers were built on the site. Same idea but stuff of the World War II surplus period – ARC-5 radios, lots of vacuum tubes, some early computer stuff. Canal Street was similar but not the density of Cortlandt Street. It’s all gone now.

  6. I think part of what makes it so great is that stuff is just sitting there, not all individually isolated in a wasteful layer of plastic.

  7. I really wish we could sustain this sort of thing in the states again sometime, but I doubt it will ever be. I remember spending hours wandering around looking at junk on Canal street NYC in the ’70s when I was a kid. A highlight was always sticking my hands into the 50 gallon drum of ball bearings.

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