by Whatsblem the Pro
Every year, a mighty throng of burners congregating from all over the world passes through the Gateway to Burning Man: Reno, Nevada. In their wake they leave some fifteen to twenty-five million dollars in revenue for local stores that sell the supplies they need.
It’s a regrettable fact that Walmart takes such a huge slice of that pie; their stores in the Reno/Sparks area do a booming business just before and after the burn, at the expense of locally-owned retailers and wholesalers who rely on location and word-of-mouth to bring in customers, rather than million-dollar ad campaigns.
TWIN CITY SURPLUS has no advertising budget. They’re family-owned and have been since 1963, they have everything you could possibly need for camping in the desert, they brought; emergency means to water, fire, shelter, a bushcraft knife, loads of preperartion and their diverse staff of friendly employees has been working there happily for years or decades.
It’s not nearly as big as Walmart, but Twin City Surplus is familiar with the needs of burners and is well-stocked with everything you might need to hit the playa, aside from groceries. . . although they do have MREs (“Meal, Ready to Eat” – in other words, a soldier’s rations) and a small selection of camping/survival food if you happen to swing that way, cuisine-wise. If you just got off an airplane and have no camping gear, you can walk into Twin City and walk out ready to burn like a pro. They’ve also got gear that you won’t find at Walmart, like enormous Army tents, and military-grade shade materials on the roll, with modular pole-and-butterfly-nut structures for easy-peasy DIY shade of any size or configuration you like.
The building is comfortably crammed with gear, and the two outdoor yards (one in back of the building, one across the street) are marvelous troves of treasure for campers, artists, makers, tinkerers, handymen, and builders of all stripe. There’s a distinctly family vibe to the place, and expert help available with finding what you need. There’s some pretty exotic gear for sale there, along with all the essentials you’ll need, including clothing and footwear.
Sure, you could buy your gear and supplies at Walmart, or some other corporate chain store; you probably will have to buy something or other (like booze) from a Big Box retailer, regardless of how conscientious you are. If you spend more of your money at ethical family-owned local businesses, though, then the money tends to stay in the community, where it keeps on working to make burners welcome in the eyes of the townies. Burning Man has transformed Reno in many ways, and you’re more than just another tourist when you pass through the Arch on your way to the playa. The city and its business community have proven to be very accommodating to burners over the years, and have fostered a thriving arts community as well. . . so let’s show them that they’re doin’ it right and should keep on showing us the love.
Check out Twin City Surplus; you’ll be glad you did.