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Saint Paul, Minnesota

Ax-Man Surplus

The Midwest's reigning king of surplus stores is full of nothing you need and everything you want. 

Located in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota, Ax-Man manages to share a block with a vape shop, a dive bar/music venue, and a purveyor of sex toys yet comes out on top with providing the assortment’s most guaranteed-unforgettable experience.

Stepping through the doors of this surplus shop means being transported into a metallic-tinged purgatory of things you really don’t need but definitely want. No matter the department, the entire store is permeated with a faint smell somewhere between soldering iron residue and dust, aka: the magical smell of bad ideas forming. 

It’s one of those stores that can, at times, be properly helpful for those who actually build or make things. For the rest of the population, wandering its aisles is no less fun. 

Quirky, messy and interesting, the nature of surplus means no two visits are the same. That said, there are a few constants: the functioning iron lung (with a dummy inside) is not for sale, nor is Bobble-Head Jesus in the window. Nearly everything else, however, can be purchased. Perhaps you need four-foot-long rubber bands? Or a literal army of yellow rubber duckies? Old movie theater seats are an oddly pragmatic temptation, as are the selection of erlenmeyer flasks in the chemistry section. Lonely golf clubs are paired next to ropes and cord, while aisles of resisters and transformers lead to the front desk, teeming with knives and surgical tools, all kept behind glass. 

As if that weren’t enough, the place is lined with half-mannequins, giant fish, traffic signals, and cheeky signs written by Ax-Man’s clever staff. 

So go in for a visit. Pick up a basket and don’t look back. Upon arriving at the register, marvel at its contents – for this is, apparently, what your id consists of.