Electronic part stores in Chicago

My Google-fu is weak. All I can find is computer stores, electronic appliance stores and a plague of Rat Shacks.

Where can I find a real electronic parts store - one where I can buy connectors, cable, capacitors and other electronic parts not beginning with “c”. Here is the one I use in Kansas City, to give you an idea of the sort of place I’m looking for - they sell on-line, but they still have a counter where you can buy some 620 uf, 35 volt capacitors without having to wait for delivery.

Update: And I need it to actually be in Chicago - i.e. accessible by the CTA. So Fry’s is right out.

Are you able to use the Metra? Tris State is just a block or so north of the Mt. Prospect Metra station. You could stop at Central Continental Bakery on the way back to kill time waiting for the train and get a fantastic eclair.

Tri State Electronic
200 W Northwest Hwy
Mount Prospect, IL 60056
(847) 255-0600

This place is great.

There’s also American Science and Surplus up on Milwaukee at Foster (Jefferson Park Blue Line) That has a lot of electronic stuff.

American Science and Surplus does have some electronics stuff, but it’s mixed bag, like everything else they stock. Nothing like the long-departed Allied Radio on Western Avenue near Lake Street, one of the great electronics supply houses with a comprehensive catalog. They were bought by Tandy/Radio Shack c. 1970, the company moved to Texas, and the Western Avenue store closed. Have never seen anything like it since.

If you don’t mind mail order, Allied will still sell you small batches of whatever parts you need - web site. It seems they escaped the evil grasp of Radio Shack some years ago. In fact, the Allied “About Us / Allied History” web page makes no mention of Radio Shack or Tandy - I guess they’d rather forget about it, too.

MikeG, TriState looks like the sort of place I’m looking for, but it does look like it will require devoting a half day to the trip. Allied Radio sounds perfect, and just my luck, long gone.

I do mail order, but I posted because I really want to find a real shop I can go into a buy parts and have them that day. Mail order, for all it’s advantages, is not instantaneous. And Rat Shack seems to have become embarrassed by the parts business, and wants to get out of a business where they are the undisputed leader to become an also-ran in the cell phone business.

In fairness, reports are that the market for component-level electronics parts is something like 0.5% of what it was in 1975. People just don’t build stuff themselves any more in the numbers necessary to sustain retail, and the few who do use mail order.

It is way the other end of the Metra North Line from Chicago, but Chester Electronics in Kenosha has lots of experimenter supplies not found elsewhere, including being one of the last places on earth you can buy brand-new Octal tube sockets. The store is on Sheridan Road, a couple of miles south of the Kenosha station on Highway 32 (or maybe a dozen miles north of Zion). It’s at about 77th Street. Funky, junkshop feel to the place, which has been around about half of forever. I can tell you personally that the green and blue Amphenol connector bins at one end of the counter have been there, unchanged, since at least 1960 (and probably with no sales in 20 years). Not a bad nostalgia stop if you are a techie planning a trip north. They do a business in more modern supplies, but no where I know of has a better collection of new old stock for sale. You can ride the streetcar in Kenosha, too, but not to Chesters…

As far as Radio Shack, there are A stores and B stores, and it helps to know what you’ve got. The B’s have cell phones, batteries and toys, with the “parts” area consisting of a couple of battery holders and some switches and light bulbs. The A stores have much more, though nothing like they had even ten years ago. Back in the 1990s, I was actually finding parts to repair X-Ray machines and digital imaging systems there. Not any more since Tandy Corpothink dumbed the places down.

I think you can go to Tris State its at the north side of the station of Mount Prospect Metra. Otherwise you can also go to American Science and Surplus that one is also good place for electronics items. So you can visit both of this places and choose the right one according to your need.