By: Deborah Gantos

It is time for another interview with one of the exhibitors at the ANM Expo, located at the Chicago Odeum Expo Center on July 28. The featured business is Schreck Wholesale, situated since 1936 in the Windy City. I hope you enjoy learning some new ideas and interesting facts about this business. I had the pleasure of speaking with Schreck owner Harold Hirsch about his business:

How did Schreck Wholesale begin?

In 1946, Sol Schreck opened a general store and subsequently opened a surplus store. In 1970 they moved to their present location in Chicago which consists of three buildings, with a total of approximately 100,000 square feet. The business is currently run by third-generation family member Adam Hirsch, grandson of Sol Schreck.

What makes your business special?

We at Schreck tried to stay with U.S.-made goods starting 20 years ago. Today, the ratio of U.S./International is about 50/50. We at Schreck still stress buying U.S. military goods and things you can’t find elsewhere.

Were you able to buy any surplus from Iraq and Afghanistan?

As I understand it, there was quite a bit of surplus that was just left there. Our company has done some business with buying U.S. Government surplus products from the wars starting in 1993. Another commodity that was requested by the military was sweaters in Iraq. We were contacted by the State Department to supply ponchos, poncho liners, gas masks and parachutes. Other revenue streams for Schreck are provided by those who wish to decorate using a military theme, decorations, movies, plays and TV stations for backdrops. We supplied products for movies such as “Black Hawk Down” and “Saving Private Ryan.”

What is the men/women ratio of your customers?

Our figures cite the ratio of 60% men vs. 40% women that shop at our store. Women tend to buy things for themselves, spouses and children. We cannot forget the women soldiers who comprise 20% of the military. Some of our products purchased by women are boots, camouflage, uniforms and other goods.

What did you like about the ANM Expo last January?

Schreck is a strong supporter of the Expo. Sol Schreck, the founder of Schreck, was instrumental in starting ASD, and we have participated as Army Navy show exhibitors since the 1950s.

What is your advice for new entrepreneurs just starting out?

Don’t give up your day job. (laughs) Times are quite tough for those who own their own business. Take advantage of the internet and build a profitable catalog of online sales. I look forward to retiring and letting the younger guys take over.

Surplus Today would like to thank Harold for taking his time to give his insights on all things Army Navy! For more information on Schreck Wholesale, visit their website at

If you would like to be considered for an interview in Surplus Today’s Spotlight, please send me an email at: