gas masks, chemical equipment and survival equipment.
The occasional earthquake or military actions, such as the war,
spur people to buy from the West Newport store, Sherman said, but the
staple of his 25-year-old business has been military apparel and
"Camouflage clothing [is] always popular, always in style," he
Often stereotyped as the uniform of gun-toting rednecks, the
clothing designed to be inconspicuous is frequently seen in high
"It has less to do with war and more to do with it being
utilitarian and hip," said Rose Apodaca Jones, an editor for Women's
For those looking for utility, South Coast has a wide array of
"All the way from Vietnam to the Gulf War," Sherman said, pointing
to tiger-striped pants sitting next to digital-patterned pants, the
new pixilated camouflage of the U.S. military.
"A lot of the stuff we get is being re-manufactured," Sherman
Other popular items include military bags, many of which are
manufactured by Fox Outdoors, which makes a whole line of military
"The thing with camouflage is that, even though it is not used in
every army in the world, it does provide a sense of globalism,"
Apodaca Jones said.
A collection of international military shirts, such as the
palm-patterned shirt of Rhodesia, are on display, but not for sale.
In a business that relies largely on consumers' concern for
survival, seasonal trends and the fickle tastes of fashion, Sherman
said that the key to success is "being one step ahead of the trends."
Since trends can be hard to predict, South Coast Army and Navy
Surplus stays prepared by always carrying a diverse selection, which
includes soft-pellet air guns, sleeping bags and vintage flight
Sherman also attributes the success of the store to the industry
connections he has been making since he started working in his
father's surplus store 35 years ago.