Surplus store located in Northwest Portland, Oregon. A fair amount of the store is computer oriented, there is probably two or three aisles full of things such as 5 1/4 inch drives, 9600 baud modems, and propietary keyboards that only work with computer systems that haven't been manufactored for 15 years. To be fair, there is a good deal of more modern computer equipment, such as 100 full 486s for around $30 a piece. Someday, a mad scientist is going to go in there and build a beowulf cluster using all those old parts.

You might also find boxes of surgical gloves, old car parts, coloring books in bulk, manequins, and whatever else they might happen to be liquidating that week.

Other then being a browsers paradise for the junk-obsessed, Wacky Willy's is also famous around town for it's interesting price and description markers. Not only on such things as a gigantic barrel full of bowling trophy figurines; but also on things as mundane as washers and screws, there is usually a cute sarcastic description of what it is, as well as a funny little drawing and wacky suggestion of what to do with it. To do full justice to the place, you would have to go there.

Wacky Willy's was originally located in southeast Portland along 11th Avenue between Oak and Pine streets (near Stark), right on the fringe between the dense middle-class/working class neighborhood of Buckman and the light warehouse industry of the Central Eastside Industrial District. In the mid-90s, perhaps in 1996 or 1997, it moved to a new location along NW Vaughn Street, right on the fringe between the dense yuppie neighborhood of Northwest Portland and the heavy industry of the Northwest Industrial District. It moved again to another Northwest Porland location in 2005.

The current address is 2562 NW Wilson St., Portland, OR, 97210. The phone number, should you ever be inspired to call, is (503) 227-2203. Hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 12 noon to 6pm.

Wacky Willy's has also expanded to open two new locations. I'm not sure when they opened. One is in the western suburb of Hillsboro/in the Aloha area, at 2900 SW 219th Ave, Hillsboro, 97123. The phone is (503) 642-5111, and the hours are the same as the Portland location. Their other location is much farther away, in Honolulu, Hawaii, at 870 Kawaiahao Street, 96813. The phone is (808) 593-9262. I was unable to find the hours for this location.

Wacky Willy's has a website at They seem to be planning to set up some form of online ordering, but that is currently under construction.

Though my first visits to Wacky Willy's were at the Southeast location, I never properly experienced the marvelous store until they moved to their new location.

In my freshman or sophomore year of high school, my fellow geek friend Russell and I were in a science class together which dealt with a lot of environmental issues. One of our class's most glorious field trips was to the wastewater treatment plant, where we covered our noses and watched the wonder of separating shit from water. As we walked back through what passes for the projects in Portland, our inspiration was already budding.

When it came time to make a project for the class, Russell and I decided to make a model of the city's water system. We got some paper-covered foamboard for the edges of the model, and sheets of styrofoam for the model itself. We carved rivers and hills out of the styrofoam sheets, which were about 1/2" thick. The model included the Willamette River and the Columbia River, the West Hills, Mount Tabor, and, very much closer than it should have been were the model to scale, the Bull Run reservoir. We also put in the reservoirs on Mount Tabor and in the West Hills at Washington Park. After we had the styrofoam formed into what was essentially a 3-D projection of a bad topo map, we coated it with plaster to smooth it out and painted it pretty colors. Then, it was time for a trip to Wacky Willy's.

We headed over to Wacky Willy's one day after school; it was a short walk from the Metropolitan Learning Center where we attended school. We picked up some little transparent plastic tubing, two water pumps, and a couple power supplies. Then the fun began.

We returned then to Russell's house to finish our project. We made a little model house out of paper, which we put in Southeast. We stuck the tubing through the foamboard to make little pipes. One pipe went from the Bull Run reservoir to the Mount Tabor reservoir and then from there to the house, carrying blue water, representing clean water. Then out of the house a pipe went to the wastewater treatment plant. This tube carried a mixture of water, coffee, and coffee grounds, to represent, err, unclean water. The rivers on the map also carried this mix of unclean water, as our rivers in Portland are far from clean. We hooked up pipes out of the wastewater treatment plant and in the ends of the rivers to make them flow. Then we hooked the pumps up.

The project was a brilliant success, though it needed a bit of tweaking at first. The flowing rivers turned out to be a bit of a disaster. They didn't flow; rather, they spurted unclean water all over the classroom. We unhooked and resealed the rivers. We also had to put a bit of air in the pipes to make it actually look like the water was flowing. When that was all done, though, we had a brilliant and marginally humorous model of Portland's water system. Our teacher loved it.

I love Wacky Willy's.

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