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MAKE's marvelous editorial assistant, Laura Cochrane, told me about her recent visit to a discount surplus store called Mr. Stuff. I asked her to write a short piece about it.
A couple of weeks ago, I flew down to LA to visit my friend Alex. His mom recommended that we go to Brent's deli in Northridge for breakfast one day. We did, and it was delicious.
After breakfast while walking back to the car, my eye caught on a store called Mr. Stuff. The sign was punctuated by a caricature of a regular-looking guy in jeans and a sleeveless t-shirt, with a cape and eye mask on. The sign promised: "All Kinds of Stuff!"
"We have to go in!" I announced. Alex — a friend that kindly indulges all my random whims — followed. The store lived up to its name: Mr. Stuff is filled with bizarre, random inventory, each object more ridiculous and hilarious than the last. I loved it! Of course thrift stores are pretty good for this sort of experience, but I'm partial to these closeout, just-fell-off-the-truck outlets.
Among Mr. Stuff's treasure trove: Extra short screwdrivers and hammers, pots of fake dirt and moss (presumably for fake plants), talking Dr. Laura and Dennis Miller dolls, Colgate brand soap (?), blonde tape measures (with drawings of feet on them), unidentifiable Japanese hygiene products, scented canned oxygen, lots of tools, dusty TVs, $10 jeans, a mug that says "Ring bell for more coffee" (that had a bike bell attached to the handle), a mug that says "I have a crush on you!" (A mug seems like the wrong vehicle to convey that message), a wide selection of bolt cutters, machine oil (it must have been poured from a bulk container into many small containers because each label was hand-written), and lots of dishes that look like they had lead in them.
To me there's something fascinating about surplus, unwanted products. Mr. Stuff will definitely be on my itinerary the next time I visit LA!
Sidenote: Mr. Stuff's tagline, "All Kinds of Stuff!" must have been where John Kricfalusi got the name for his blog. John likes getting names from things he comes across in the San Fernando Valley. He got the name for his George Liquor character from a liquor store called George Liquor, which amused him to no end.