by Allen J. Sheinman | February 27, 2015

Whether for pillow, goodie bag or anytime, these items will raise spirits -- and eyebrows.

American Science & Surplus (
This outfit's motto is "Incredible stuff, unbelievable prices," and they're not kidding. All kinds of esoteric items are for sale under categories such as arts and crafts (e.g., Chameleon Tape, $3.95 per roll, duct tape that changes color as the temperature rises); communications and electronics (Safety Flasher, $2.95, mounts to belt or bike for safe jogging/pedaling at night); house and garden (Revolving Multicolor LED Pedestal, $7.95, can serve as base for award or coaster for cocktail); lab supplies and equipment (Pocket Microscope, $7.95), and on and on. And whoever writes their descriptions is a modern-day Robert Benchley (Google him, kids). For example, "If you're half as fascinated by this fan-driven levitation toy as the people on the package, you're in for a bunch of floating fun."

Zombie Apocalypse Store Las Vegas (
The proprietors don't so much expect an invasion by zombies as they do the more standard natural disasters of earthquakes, tornadoes and the like, so the stuff they sell is of a pretty straightforward survivalist bent. Examples: the Emergency Blanket in a pouch ($1.99), the red Mayday Emergency Poncho ($2.99), the Filtering Face Mask ($5) and the no-batteries-required Ready Light ($4.49).

Galaxy Army Navy (
Imagine if your goodie bag itself constituted the goodie bag, like a genuine surplus NATO Medic Shoulder Bag w/Red Cross Emblem, available for $13.99 each from the well-stocked shelves of this midtown Manhattan militaria shop. Other cool items include the Women's Adjustable Fatigue Cap (in shades such as olive drab or "subdued pink camouflage," $6.99), the ACU Digital Camouflage Color-Changing 11-Oz Mug ($18.99) and, if office politics are particularly brutal, the Official U.S. Army Special Forces Hand-to-Hand Fighting Manual ($8.99).

Rotofugi (
Among this Windy City emporium's wackily winsome items are Headphone Drink Markers (little hanging ID markers shaped like headphones for cocktail glasses; $5.95),  superhero Green Lantern key chains ($5,95),  the Close Shave Veggie Peeler (in the shape of a men's razor; $7.95) and all manner of paper, wood and metal toys.

We wanted this List to have a nice even five bullets, but this last category covers some cool individual items, obtained at their respective sources. Hence: Emitips (; $9.95), iron-on strips of fabric that make the fingers of your gloves touchscreen-compatible; Search Wonder (; $11.98 each, minimum of 50), the classic 8 Ball fortune-telling toy, here completely reimagined as an elegantly stylish paperweight with a spinning base that determines your fate; and, especially in lieu of this currently uber-winter, the Closed-Hood Car Jump Starter (; $24.99), an ingenious cable that connects the cigarette lighters in two cars to jumpstart your engine -- no more opening the hood and trying to remember where the clamps go!

Source: Meetings & Conventions