Twin City Ready For Burners Despite a 'For Sale' Sign
The Reno store that's become a must stop for Burners on their way north is up for sale, right before Burning Man.
At Reno’s one and only Twin City Surplus store today (Wednesday), Dieter Hemsing came by...for a 20 millimeter ammo box. No he's not going to battle. He told us, "I need it for my trailer to put all my tie-downs in and everything." Nearby, Barbara Albiniano isn't camping. She just loves a bargain: "I bought 2 cots, and they were only $24."
It's the calm before the storm at Twin City Surplus. Burning Man begins on the 27th, just two-and-a-half weeks away! Soon any day now burners will swarm in here to stock up for the playa like a band of colorful locusts. But owner Larry Sliter would never call them that. "They're our greatest customer. I mean, their personalities are excellent."
The next few weeks is his Christmas shopping season. Hats, buckets, long johns and insect repellent. Ammo boxes, helmets, uniforms and dog tags. Gas cans, shell casings and hard hats. Camouflage and flags, paddles and knives. Reno's most unusual store attracts the most unusual customers. Larry said with a laugh, “We've got quite a few that have come through here over the years."
Twin City Surplus opened in 1963. Larry's dad Byron used his Ford sedan to haul in things to sell. Larry laughingly says, "He was the founder, and I was the cheap labor!" But Burning Man has turned the surplus, camping, hunting and prospector store into the hippest place in town. It all began with Burners looking for water storage. It turns out, military items were the perfect Burning Man goods. Larry says, "They love military surplus stores because the value's here for the product."
And nothing illustrates the shift from military to burner more than the parachute. They sell hundreds of them there for the shade. They cut down on the rays, and that's why when you go to Burning Man, you see an awful lot of orange and white for shade out there on the playa.
Burners buy miles of these solar screens there, hundreds of water barrels and goggles galore at the store. But amidst all the party preparation, there's a bit of a shock. There's a liquidation sale going on, and what's the “business for sale” sign doing on the building? The Reno store that's become a must stop for Burners on their way north is up for sale, right before they come through. It turns out, Larry wants to retire. He tells us, "The business proper is not going away, it's just getting a new owner." But what if he doesn’t find that new owner? Larry promises: "I will. I'm dedicated to stay here till I get 'er."
Larry will soon set a price and sell his iconic store. But he insists Twin City will be here for Burners, and everyone else next year. Shoppers like Barbara Albiniano say, it better be. As she put it, "It's worth coming over here if you have to drive 30 miles!" And for folks like Burners, more miles than that.