Take a trip to Surplus Tools & Commodities before this hardware hoard is gone forever!
Hi, friends. It’s Bree.
When I was a kid, I spent a good amount of Sundays in junkyards, hardware stores, and the occasional antique shop. I’d ride along with my dad, uncles, and cousin Sam to the Hugh M. Woods (or “the Woods” as we called it) for building materials, hit various auto-specific yards for car parts, and make regular stops at Queen City Architectural Salvage just to ogle at cool, old neon signs and the like.
When I stepped into Surplus Tools & Commodities on Alameda and Pecos last week, the childhood urge to dig through bins of precious bric-a-brac washed over me. This place is like a junkyard, hardware store, and antique shop in one! It’s also one of those entities that isn’t long for this world, particularly this new and shiny version of Denver where a lot of stuff is expensive that didn’t used to be.
Each year that I’ve lived on the Southwest side, I’ve seen the handpainted sign in front of Surplus Tools change to reflect that passage of time. This year, they would have celebrated (with their trademark red and yellow painted sign) 75 years in business. Instead, the hand-drawn letters marked the store’s impending closure. Tinkerers, artists, gearheads, packrats, and hoarders of all types still have a few weeks until they close for good, but as the sign at the register says, “There is no set date for closing, we will be opened until enough is gone. Please don’t ask us we don’t know.”
If you enjoy prolific sign-writers (like Surplus Tools owner Roger Cox,) or you love a good flea market-style treasure hunt, today’s City Cast Denver episode is for you. I take a trip to the odds n’ ends haven with my friend, artist Lauri Lynnxe Murphy, to get a glimpse of the magic that’s kept her coming back for decades. I also get the backstory of this hardware heaven from third-generation owner Cox himself.
And if you’ve never made a pilgrimage to Surplus Tools yourself, I wanted to share some photos I took of my journey last week. If you like what you see, hurry down to Valverde while the gettin’ is good!
— Bree Davies, Host of City Cast Denver and an Appreciator of Treasured Junk
OTHER ODDS AND ENDS
🔥 New theory emerges to explain Marshall Fire origins: In a surprising yet thoroughly Colorado turn of events, Boulder County officials recently announced that it’s possible last month’s Marshall Fire was sparked by fires that have been burning underground since 1883. The Associated Press reports that at least two Colorado wildfires in recent years started when fire from underground coal fields spread to the surface, so this kind of thing is not as outlandish as it sounds.
🎭 David. Byrne. Immersive. Experience.: The Grammy-, Oscar-, and Tony-winning artist has officially hopped on the art world’s hottest trend, and he’s debuting “Theater of the Mind” in Denver this summer (Location: TBA). As for what the show actually is? That’s tough to say. Byrne teamed up with his friend and technology researcher Mala Gaonkar to put together what they call “an immersive journey inside how we see and create our worlds.” The show is informed by “historical and current lab research,” so if nothing else, it’s a good bet this’ll be the brainiest immersive art experience yet.
🍄 Magic Mushrooms are heading to the ballot: In the three years since Denver voters decriminalized psilocybin, support for hallucinogenic ‘shrooms has only grown. Now, due to division within the psilocybin-loving community, there may be two dueling measures to expand legal protections for psilocybin statewide on our ballots in November. The debate is over medicinal regulation and economic inequity, so we’re looking for this one to heat up as the election approaches.
👉 What you can do: Check out Bree’s interview with Kevin Matthews, the leader of the Denver “decrim” campaign in 2019. He’s working with New Approach PAC on their version of the statewide psilocybin measure.