Case Study Update: About American Science & Surplus


As most of you know, I’m taking a Digital Marketing for Social Media class this semester. One of our big projects is identifying the online marketing presence of a company; and then looking for holes in their approach. I chose American Science & Surplus for this project.

The company’s product mix is unique and ever-changing. According to their site:

“American Science & Surplus continues to offer a unique mix of industrial, military and educational items, with an emphasis on science and education. We supply a wide range of unusual and hard to find items (some say bizarre stuff) to the hobbiest, tinkerer, artist, experimenter, home educator, do-it-yourselfer, and bargain hunter.”

American Science & Surplus shares a brief company history on their “About Us” page. ( )

In case you don’t feel like skimming through it, I’ll summarize:

The company remains at its core a family business model. Founded in 1937, the company ownership has turned over only a few times. These turnovers occurred due to inheritance, the death of a partner, the retirement of owners, or a straight sale. The company was held by two generations of the same family from 1937-1988. After the 1988 death of the family son, his partner bought out the company. By that time, they were already selling through a print catalog and through two retail stores.

In 1991, a third retail outlet store was opened. (There were now two in the Chicago area and one in Milwaukee.) These stores are in addition to a print catalog. The company launched their first web site in 1995, revamped it in 1999, and began taking online orders.

Ownership changed again in 2000, and in 2012 the current owner – a former employee and the purchasing manager – took the reins.


Looking over their website, I find icons for Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t see any other media outlets. I do follow the company on both of these forums, and they post with some regularity: about once daily on Facebook and two to three posts a day on Twitter. I’d love to see them with links to Instructables, in an online forum or Makerspace, YouTube product demos, etc.

In my opinion, their followers should tend to be techies and I think that they would respond well to online marketing appeals and gamification. More investigation to follow!


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