First off, the “Shelby Mall” is not a mall. It is a huge surplus store. You might say a surplus store on steroids. It is a place you can buy everything from a surplus 2 and a ½ ton military troop carrier to new decorations for your home. There are aisles and aisles of parts for lawnmowers, automotive supplies, camping equipment, house wares, nuts, bolts, rope, garden supplies and, of course, military surplus.
Jennifer Arms, the owner’s daughter, laughs and says, “The real name is Glen’s Surplus, but our customers about ten of 15 years ago started calling it, “The Shelby Mall” and the name just sort of stuck. Lawnmowers are really our bread and butter. About half of our business is lawnmower repair parts.” Jennifer says they have the parts for just about any lawnmower that was ever made. In fact they have one room just dedicated to lawnmower blades and another room for wheels for lawnmowers.
Located in a century-old former manufacturing plant near downtown Shelby, the sales floor covers over thirty-thousand square feet.
“We have become a destination for tourists.” Says Jennifer Arms, “First time visitors come in the front door and just stop and stare because there is just so much stuff.”
There is a room filled from floor to ceiling with military surplus and law enforcement equipment, both new and used. There are new field uniforms and flags, used parachutes and field generators. From a basket full of practice hand grenades to camouflage coveralls, known as “Ghillie Suits,” that give the wearer the appearance of a Sasquatch. They also buy back personal uniforms and military gear from returning soldiers. Jennifer laughs and says, “The one thing I won’t buy though is used socks and underwear.” Outside the store are row upon row of surplus military trucks and vehicles, still wearing their camouflage paint. All of them are for sale.
But it is not just military surplus. They buy and sell just about anything that is on the surplus market. . Jennifer says, “We have been told that we have the largest selection of wall-paper in a 150 mile radius.”
Over the years they have sold medical equipment for blood transfusions and even a gynecologist’s examination table. The most unusual item they sell right now is unused, surplus body bags. “Hunters and campers buy them because they are waterproof and use them for a variety of purposes.” Jennifer said.
★ You can read the entire story in the Saturday, April 28, 2012 edition of the Plain Dealer or on-line at their website: http://www.cleveland.com