The days of the brick-and-mortar stores are on a steady decline as online shopping is taking over the way people purchase goods. On the outskirts of the Seattle-based Amazon headquarters, one of Lynnwood’s oldest family-run businesses is closing its doors.
Ed’s Surplus & Marine will shut down its physical location on Wednesday, Oct. 31 after being a pillar of the Lynnwood community for 50 years. Online sales will continue at www.edssurplus.com.
What began as a love for the outdoors and passion for military history shared by brothers Bob and Ed Winters, Ed’s Surplus has been in the family for 60 years. The store has been run since 2009 by Ed’s daughter-in-law Donna Winters, her daughter Cammy and Ed’s great-grandson Shawn.
Ed’s Surplus has also become a landmark for many in the area who know it as “that weird old shop” since it moved here in 1968 from its original location in downtown Seattle.
But the community is not just losing a piece of its own history. Ed’s Surplus is also one of the few remaining places where outdoor lovers and purveyors of military memorabilia can walk the aisles and touch a piece of military history like letters discovered from World War II.
Dameon Willich, a long-time Ed’s customer, said it is unfortunate online shopping is taking over the way so many people do business.
“The strength of a brick-and-mortar store is walking in and actually touching the item,” he said.
Willich, who over the years has come to Ed’s to either peruse the shelves or buy clothing, said another benefit of a physical location is the ability to try on items before buying them.
“Yeah, Amazon will have it to you tomorrow if they have it,” he said. “But to try it on and ship it back cause it’s not right is more of a hassle than it’s worth.”
Online shopping might not be solely to blame for the store’s closure. Shawn Winters said another factor might be the community’s lack of interest in the outdoors these days.
“Culturally the area has changed quite a bit too,” he said. “We’re just not as outdoor-friendly anymore.”
In addition to selling outdoor equipment, the business also offers periodic seminars for hunting, fishing and outdoor survival. It’s a service Winters said the company intends to continue in the future.
“We like to give people the tools and instruction on how to have the best time outdoors,” he said. “I’ve often joked half my job is teaching people to survive the zombie apocalypse and the other side was learning to enjoy being out in the trees to begin with.”
While other stores in the area may be able to keep campers stocked in tarps and fishing poles, Winters said it is the historical items in his family’s store people will not find anywhere else, outside of a museum.
“There’s nothing historical (in other stores),” he said. “Anything where you want to come in and touch and deal with something with history, that is sorely lacking anymore. There’s nowhere to trade and swap stories with anybody who knows about the equipment.”
Among some of these historical treasures are a naval officer’s sword from 1812 and a portrait of some of the Marines who inspired the film “Full Metal Jacket.”
“We know the people who had to go through that,” Winters said. “We have that piece of history. You can watch a visual representation of that in film, but I have a piece of those guys forever.”
As Ed’s Surplus counts down its final days, Winters said the resurgence in business is reminiscent of old times, when he first began working at the store.
“The crowd response has been incredible,” he said. “It’s been an extreme joy to have so many people have all that emotion and coming in and showing all that support.”
— Story and photos by Cody Sexton