|Halted Specialties store closing RP shop
Unique electronic reputation vanishes after last day, May 4
There’ll be more than an empty socket on Redwood Drive in Rohnert Park when HSC Electronic Supply padlocks its door late Saturday afternoon, May 4.
You can’t simply say, “Oh my, a hardware store’s closing .”
Calling HSC a hardware store is like calling the Museum of Natural History in New York a place where you’ll find “lots of good stuff.”
Sure, HSC has lots of sockets, odd tools, capacitors, PC accessories, semiconductors and wiring. But you’ve only got two days to discover all the digital gadgets at bargain prices. Otherwise, you’ll have to get in touch with their main store and warehouse down in Santa Clara in the middle of Silicon Valley. They’ve been down there almost 50 years and opened the Rohnert Park outlet 27 years ago.
The location is on the west side of Redwood Drive, south of the Press Democrat printing plant. Park in front, OK. But they don’t have a front door. The entry’s a side door around to the right.
It’s part of HSC’s offbeat charm. Inside, once you’ve recovered from your bewildering initial impact, you’ll no doubt find burly, bearded, store manager Stan Knox, and attractive Dawn Silveiro ready to answer queries. They’re both longtime employees.
“If we can’t, our staff are all specialists,” said Knox. “We have a computer specialist, an electronic wiring pro, plumber’s aide or whatever. I must admit we have some pretty strange tools, and we do our best to help them find these rare items.”
Knox, 64, is an audio specialist and is deep into the non-digital world. “There’s a resurgence in the sound of the old 33-1/3 LPs and older stereo tuners and speakers, and yes, we even have an assortment of vacuum tubes in various sizes. Many hobbyists still need them.
“I have some CDs, of course. But you’d be surprised at the number of audio freaks who prefer the older sound. So we carry both new and used components and attachments they demand.”
He’s had some unusual clients who’ve discovered the collections on HSC’s shelves.
“Back in the days of the gas crisis…you remember those days, a guy comes in wanting gear to change water into gas by simply taking out the oxygen and using hydrogen instead of gas in his tank, you know, just add water. He thought we had the gadgets to do this. I had to tell him it just doesn’t work that way.
“A lot of people are into building their own personal computers these days,” said Knox. “Not from scratch, but assembling them after they buy the basic board. We can help out here.”
Knox and his wife, well-known Sonoma County artist Lauren Halling, live in Kenwood. “She’s come up with new designs for brushes and palette knives. “When I leave HSC, I’ve got a fulltime job perfecting these tools and getting them out on the art supply network. Marketing’s one of my virtues.”
HSC Electronic Supply has a website called www.Halted.com. It stands for Hal and Ted, two of the company’s original founders’ first names, not “halted” as in stopped.
An article that appeared in the New York Times back in 2009 pretty much describes HSC’s shop: “The store seems to have minimal interest in rhyme or reason, with hunks of titanium randomly sitting on top of cabinets, ovens crammed into a corner behind a row of vacuum tubes and boxes of anti-virus software tucked between routers and plugs. Entire aisles are dedicated to wires of various sizes and colors, while other aisles contain tens of thousands of resistors and transistors.”
Sounds like paradise for electronic browsers.
But you’d better hurry. Saturday, May 4, is their final day in RP. A big hole will be gaping on Redwood Drive, and there’s no one in sight to fill it. Somehow, Internet connection to the Santa Clara main shop just isn’t keeping in spirit with HSC’s overall approach to business.