So the Harvester Homecoming is actually going to happen this year; I have no idea how they’re going to arrange things so that there’s social distancing, but I’d wager the boundaries will be pretty porous. I’m skipping this year for obvious reasons, but my eventual goal is to make it to the 2022 event, COVID willing.
Back in college, I used to frequent a place in downtown Baltimore that spoiled me for surplus stores for ever after; in what was then a lousy neighborhood there was a warehouse storefront with several old military chests chained to a steel post outside a heavily reinforced door. Inside, a showroom was filled with new camping and mil-spec gear, haphazardly placed and barely organized. Down a tall flight of stairs into the basement of the building, however, was a city block-sized space full of surplus gear, piled high on 10-foot shelves that stretched from one side of the building to the other. This was the kind of place where you could still root through 5’x5′ cardboard bins filled with surplus fatigues for elusive SL-sized Vietnam era jungle pants; there were shelves stacked with tank periscopes, racks of cold-weather coats, an entire section devoted to ALICE packs (the most uncomfortable backpack ever invented), tents made of stinking olive green oiled canvas, bins and bins of 80’s era combat boots—this was where I bought my first pair—and in the far back there were honest to god oscilloscopes sitting next to unidentifiable electronic equipment that was probably used to call in missile strikes. We’d roll down there every couple of months to check things out, much like visiting the IKEA, and usually find something interesting to buy for cheap. Half of my college wardrobe was made up of surplus clothing or thrift-store finds.
About four years ago they picked up and moved north into the Hamilton neighborhood on the east side of town, and I figured they were my best (and only) local shot for 30mm ammo cans in stock. The guy on the phone claimed they had them and quickly hung up before I could ask about pricing or condition, so I was somewhat skeptical about what I’d find. Their current Yelp reviews are less than optimal, but I figured I’d take the chance. I drove the Scout in on Saturday morning and found the place in downtown Hamilton, empty of people; it was maybe 1/20th its original size, now occupying an old beauty supply store. The scene inside was as disorganized as the old basement had been. After a few minutes I found the ammo can section and was annoyed to find they didn’t have any of the size I wanted, and the guy in the store was less than concerned with helping me find any. I spent a total of about 5 minutes in there and left, disgusted with the whole situation.
Back at home, I found them for sale online and for $10 in shipping I’ve got two on their way to the house, due here by Saturday.