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Larkfield True Value’s amazing military surplus collection

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A dozen unique things in True Value’s collection

1. Italian Air Force tea cup and saucer, $15

2. Polish military medical bag, $40

3. Steel 1944 Swiss military bicycle, $1,000

4. Porcelain enamel wash basin, $20

5. Swedish surgical scissors, $10

5. German tank periscope with Porsche optics, $75

6. Serbian Army paratrooper helmet, $20

7. Italian wool blanket, $50

8. German ammo box, $25

9. British Gortex desert parka, $65

10. Camoflage net, 27x27 feet, $170

11. Tiger Trend fire retardant sweat shirts, $30

12. Flannel-lined Bulgarian military pajamas, $20

You weren’t looking for men’s flannel-lined Bulgarian military pajamas when you went to the True Value store in Larkfield, but there they were. So you bought them.

And at the checkout counter on the way out of the Pete and Allen Henderson’s store off Airport Boulevard, you couldn’t resist a few of those never-used lead bullets from the Civil War. After all, you can’t beat six of them for $20.

You can think of an excuse on the ride home for not remembering the plumbing supplies. The standing water in the sink isn’t going anywhere.

Since February, Allen Henderson has been collecting surplus military items from the Civil and First and Second World wars, and since August Sean Stuckley has been organizing them and putting them on the sales floor.

Stuckley hasn’t served in the military, but he says he has become a military surplus specialist.

“I’m dedicated to it. I like seeing the use and history of these things,” Stuckley says.

He estimates there are 1,000 items in stock, not only of military hardware but clothing, backpacks and blankets. He and Henderson attend the Alameda County Antiques Fair every month, where they rented tents and got an idea what items the public was buying.

“Allen was the driving force,” Stuckley said.

It all started about a year ago.

“We kept getting calls for wood and metal ammo boxes,” Henderson said. “I had to make contact with a wholesaler. When I looked online I saw there was a military show in Las Vegas. I went there and spent $170,000.”

There are 10-12 established wholesalers across the country who buy military surplus items in bulk at auctions, Henderson said. Some buy American or European military surplus and some buy both, he said.

“We try to get genuine military surplus. There is an after market of items made to military specifications; it’s not genuine,” Henderson said.

“The Army stuff is high quality and low price. It has to be low-priced to sell here,” Stuckley said.

The federal government liquidated a large amount of obsolete military surplus from its bases to public auctions, he said. Hunters, veterans, survivalists and women looking for gifts for the men in their lives are among the store’s best customers.

“A lot of kids are into it. It’s unique. You don’t see a lot of it,” Henderson said.

There are crystal oil and vinegar sets and Italian Air Force cups.

Backpacks and enamel pitchers and washbasins and other kitchen items are big sellers.

When the military items become available from wholesalers, “You get it or it’s gone that day. I got used to that,” Henderson said.

Some items won’t fit in the trunk of the car or the back of the SUV. For $6,000 a Swiss military horse wagon from 1925 is yours, but you’ll have to figure out your own way to transport it.

A 1944 Swedish military supply sled with a removable wooden box is $1,200. Or, if you prefer to spend less, buy the 1944 Swiss antique horse-drawn sled, $800 with unfinished wood, $1,000 finished wood.

“Switzerland, a neutral country, kept an eye on its borders during World War II. They used the sled to transport food and supplies to remote outposts in the dead of winter,” Stuckley said.

The 240-pound, 3-feet-wide and 7-feet-long sled on skis was built to last a lifetime, Stuckley said.

Pete Henderson, Allen’s brother, said True Value Hardware has been at 115 Lystra Court location since 1990. They moved it from the location near Molsberry Market when their five-year lease expired because they needed room to park the hardware delivery trucks, he said.

The True Value store is independently owned and doesn’t need approval to sell the military hardware and clothing on display down the main isle of the store, Stuckley said.

“It’s important this stuff is honored and preserved and doesn’t end up in the trash,” he said.

Contact Windsor Towns Correspondent James Lanaras at WindsorTownNews@gmail.com.

A dozen unique things in True Value’s collection

1. Italian Air Force tea cup and saucer, $15

2. Polish military medical bag, $40

3. Steel 1944 Swiss military bicycle, $1,000

4. Porcelain enamel wash basin, $20

5. Swedish surgical scissors, $10

5. German tank periscope with Porsche optics, $75

6. Serbian Army paratrooper helmet, $20

7. Italian wool blanket, $50

8. German ammo box, $25

9. British Gortex desert parka, $65

10. Camoflage net, 27x27 feet, $170

11. Tiger Trend fire retardant sweat shirts, $30

12. Flannel-lined Bulgarian military pajamas, $20

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