June 8, 2023
P&T Surplus homeowners Tim Smythe Sr. and Tim Smythe Jr. (Photographs by Lauren Thomas)

At 198 Abeel Road on the Rondout waterfront in Kingston, tucked between the Hideaway Marina and Block Park on the foot of Hunter Road, there stands a cluster of three previous industrial buildings whose nondescript exterior hides a wonderland inside. Timothy Smythe, Jr., who runs P&T Surplus along with his father, Timothy Sr., calls the place “a giant children’ toy retailer.”

The Smythes proudly proclaim that their firm “buys and sells nearly every little thing,” at deep-discount costs. “We purchase predominantly reusable metallic,” says Tim Jr. “We promote nuts and bolts by the pound.” Secondhand instruments are a lot sought-after objects. Prospects are available not solely to get a a lot better deal on {hardware} than they’ll discover in big-box shops, but in addition to find all types of miscellaneous objects to include into development and artwork tasks: tarps in each possible dimension, sheets of zinc plate, bungee cords, classic prismatic stickers, ham radio elements, heavy-duty work gloves, enameled copper buttons, compartmented plastic trays. “A few of the stuff, we don’t even know what it’s.”

The enterprise received began on this website – a former foundry courting again to the times when the Rondout was filled with busy shipyards – within the late Nineteen Fifties, based by Tim Sr.’s uncle, Phil Riley, and his accomplice David Hines. At first it was all about taking aside outmoded mainframe computer systems from IBM and Remington Rand and reselling the elements. The unique homeowners would get “two or three tractor/trailer hundreds a day of 1 mainframe. It was all state-of-the-art again then,” Tim Jr. explains.

When IBM shut down its Kingston facility in 1995, there was a short flush of fabric to promote, together with loads of private computer systems. Then got here laborious occasions for the founders of the enterprise, so the Smythes stepped in to take it over. “Dad has been working right here for 60 years, and owned it with me since 1997,” Tim Jr. relates. “We had one other run in 2000, when IBM was beginning to depart Fishkill. It was just like the Second Coming: very profitable. The computer systems had that unique metallic that artists like.”

P&T Surplus is positioned at 198 Abeel Road in Kingston.

In accordance with the Smythes, artists have been an essential part of P&T’s buyer base over the many years, with college and college students from Bard and SUNY New Paltz making frequent pilgrimages to the warehouse searching for sculptural supplies. “The artwork neighborhood has been nice for us for years; additionally collectors,” Tim Sr. notes. For some years, the warehouse even hosted an annual Nuts & Bolts Artwork Present of items put collectively from elements acquired there – many by Tim Jr. himself, who’s fairly the tinkerer.

It’s additionally a goldmine for props for theatrical productions and movie units. Tim Jr. remembers how Headless Horseman Hayrides in Ulster Park as soon as purchased up an entire cargo of previous microscopes for a hospital-of-horrors diorama. “Everyone loves mannequins at Halloween time,” he provides. Reusers and upcyclers, to not point out households needing elements and concepts for varsity science-fair tasks, all discover inspiration right here. Acquired a child on the autism spectrum who’s obsessive about STEM topics and likes to take issues aside and put them again collectively once more? P&T Surplus can be their concept of Paradise.

Like many companies, P&T hit lean occasions when COVID struck. “The final couple of years we struggled a little bit bit. The pandemic was laborious on us,” says Tim Sr. “Masks helped maintain us in enterprise on the time.” Certainly, within the earliest days of the pandemic, when masks have been laborious to seek out, P&T’s well-established provide chain made it one of many few locations in Ulster County the place they may reliably be obtained. That introduced the shop and its monumental inventory of fascinating oddments onto the radar of many who hadn’t found it earlier than.

It additionally created new streams of incoming items, as stir-crazy householders used the lockdown time to filter overstuffed garages, basements, attics and barns. Folks got here to promote and stayed to purchase. “There are lots of people struggling on the market,” Tim Sr. observes. “When cash is tight, they arrive searching for bargains. We get a whole lot of contractors and do-it-yourselfers coming in.”

“As soon as individuals discover out about it, they arrive again,” says Tim Jr. “Folks consider this as their retailer. They don’t wish to miss something.” There’s even a raccoon who’s a daily customer, climbing down from the rafters into the workplace, which stays heat at evening. “He’s consuming my desk chair. He’s checking it out each evening, it doesn’t matter what.”

The electronics division at P&T Surplus in Kingston.

One loyal human buyer is Charles Vincent, proprietor of Kingston-based Northeast Shelters. “I’ve been coming right here for 20 years. I imagine in doing native enterprise,” Vincent says, as he purchases a pile of screw-eye hooks. At House Depot or Lowe’s, “This could price you $3; right here I pay 50 cents. I are available each couple of weeks and see what they’ve received…. I are available searching for one factor and I depart with 5. Each time you are available, you see one thing completely different.”

“The true story is, the shoppers love my father. It’s like a membership typically; they discuss his ear off,” says Tim Jr. However, whereas he’s nonetheless usually to be discovered on premises, Tim Sr. has lately needed to reduce his involvement within the enterprise following a stroke. And Tim Jr. stays within the midst of his personal long-running well being disaster: “I’m doing dialysis thrice per week attributable to Stage 5 kidney failure. I’ve been ready on a transplant for six years.”

In consequence, P&T Surplus received approach behind on paying its payments, and was in peril of going out of enterprise altogether earlier than beginning a GoFundMe marketing campaign in February. The neighborhood has rallied across the Smythes, with $21,780 raised of the $35,000 purpose raised as of early this week. On March 3, Tim Jr. posted an replace: “To this point, we’ve got been in a position to pay down the Central Hudson invoice, the fuel invoice and a few of Tim Sr.’s medical payments. After chatting with New York State tax individuals, we hope they’ll give us an installment plan. Sadly, it’s for $40,000 as of proper now, however we hope to get it down some.”

To contribute to the crowdfunding enchantment, go to https://gofund.me/93ad3938. To make a purchase order, come to the shop – hours are a little bit irregular at current attributable to well being points, so it’s finest to name first at (845) 481-4329 – or go to www.pandtsurplus.com. (Ensure to take a look at the FAQs on the web site, which replicate the Smythes’ wry humorousness by answering such important questions as “What number of planets can I purchase?”) The P&T Surplus Fb web page at www.fb.com/individuals/PT-Surplus/100063661238622 is the place to go for updates on the most recent shipments of products, sensible or inconceivable, that are actually obtainable.