Mr. Kaufman’s Short History of the
Military Goods Business in the United States
Did you know that Army & Navy stores were in business in the United States before the American Civil War began in 1861? It’s true. Just as most Army & Navy stores today only sell new merchandise, those earlier stores only sold new military uniforms and uniform accessories.
In 1872, Francis Bannerman is credited with actually starting the military surplus business when he purchased vast amounts of both new and used military surplus from the U.S. Government accumulated during the Civil War.
Bannerman subsequently opened America’s first military surplus store on Broadway in New York City. When the Spanish-American War erupted in 1898, entire regiments of volunteers were outfitted by Bannerman’s with military surplus uniforms.
After WWI ended in 1918, other military surplus stores opened for business. During the winters throughout The Great Depression of the 1930’s, many Americans relied on these stores for well made and inexpensive military clothing to help keep them warm.
With the surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945, WWII ended and the heyday of ‘War Surplus Stores’ as they came to be known began. Thousands of military surplus stores opened up all across the United States selling anything and everything ‘Government Issue’- or ‘G.I.’
During the 1950’s and 1960’s, military surplus stores were practically everywhere, and most cities and even many small towns could likely boast one or two. Their broad appeal has remained strong even as sporting goods and Big Box stores have become more common.
Today, though the number of ‘real’ military surplus stores that actually sell genuine military surplus has dwindled, if you’re able to find a good one, then you know for yourself just how much fun they can be.
At Kaufman’s, we sell both new Army & Navy goods and new and used genuine military surplus from the United States and countries around the world. Our extensive selection includes America’s top brands of military-style fatigue clothing, tactical equipment and uniform accessories. New items arrive every week and our stock is always changing.
Many of our customers tell us that our Army & Navy military surplus store is one of the best around– and we’re proud to hear it! So you’re invited to stop by for a visit! We have fascinating items for you to see and lots of history to share!