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Black Hole

The Black Hole: Atomic Surplus Store (Closed)

Field review by the editors.

Los Alamos, New Mexico

"Atomic Ed" Grothus is a retired Los Alamos National Laboratory machinist and technician. In 1976 he bought a 17,000-square-foot former grocery store and turned it into a thrift shop selling the hardware waste created by America's richly-funded nuclear weapons industry. Ed always has plenty to sell, and his store is a popular stop for atomic-savvy tourists, anti-nuke sympathizers (Ed does not like bombs), and anyone who wants to buy weird-looking junk or who really needs a spectrophotometer.

Store clutter and slide rule
The giant slide rule hangs over surplus equipment.

Although Ed boasts that "we recycle nuclear waste," there is reportedly nothing dangerously radioactive here -- although a few bucks invested in a used Geiger counter might ease your nerves (we purchased two).

Ed, who is well into his eighties, used to hold Sunday services at what he calls The First Church of High Technology next door (the structure is currently used for storage). If he's feeling well enough, he plans to erect two large "Doomsday Stones" that will recount the history of atomic weapons development, evidently for the space aliens that will visit our burned-out hulk of a planet in the not-to-distant future. Ed expects the world to end in 2013.

Update: Ed didn't live to see his predicted Doomsday; he died on February 12, 2009, at age 85. Atomic Surplus held on for a few more years, but eventually succumbed as well -- in 2013.

The Black Hole: Atomic Surplus Store

July 2013: Reported closed.

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