Legacy Content

A Visit to Mouse Surplus
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by Rhett Wickham
May 25, 2007
Rhett Wickham tours the new Mouse Surplus and talks to the owner Michael Schoenith. Mouse Surplus sells everything from attraction ride vehicles to Disney hotel furniture to banners and posters from years past.

A Visit to MouseSurplus
Rhett Wickham

Note: There are four video clips included in this article. Each is linked below a picture within the article

MICHAEL SCHOENITH has learned the hard way that Disney collectors are a demanding and very specific lot when it comes to re-capturing the magic that they first experienced at a Disney property or resort. A recent customer wrote to Schoenith’s company MOUSESURPLUS saying how thrilled she was to have found a pillow from Disney’s Polynesian Resort for sale through a company eBay auction. Schoenith was happy to help her relive the memorable experience she and her new husband hoped to recreate in their home. But when the pillow arrived, the customer was rehearsing a war-dance and not the hula. She let the company know that this was not the same pillow she had in her room, and she was anything but enchanted. Fortunately, Schoenith’s company had purchased the full variety of pillows from the Resort as part of their refurbishment, and the exact pillow the guest recalled was available, and promptly replaced. Thus began the education of a collector turned reseller who has morphed a personal passion into a potentially lucrative business, and one that he takes very, very seriously.

Michael Schoenith came into this business entirely by accident. Coming from a well established and respected Detroit family, Michael Schoenith’s father was the founder of a legendary waterfront restaurant and entertainment venue called The Roostertail (so named after the spray of water behind the speeding boats on the river). Not only was the Roostertail a fine dining experience for the well-to-do’s of Detroit society, but it was also a venue for entertainers such as Tony Bennett and The Rolling Stones. Michael’s father, Joe Schoenith, also had foresight and the courage to recognize the new MoTown sound of groups such as The Supremes, and when a black entertainer in a primarily white dinner club and event facility was frowned upon, Schoenith didn’t give a second thought to creating a special night that showcased the talents of what he saw as an emerging musical force to be reckoned with.

?I remember my father telling me that the phone lines went down due to the volume of calls coming in when The Supremes appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show? said Michael. The crash came the morning after their television appearance, and was because people were clamoring to attend a previously booked performance at The Roostertail that was coming up the following week.

Michael has been a Disney collector ever since his first visit to the parks back in the 1970’s and it’s been a shared passion throughout his family (although he’s still working through “issues? *wink* with the time his Dad visited EPCOT while on a business trip to Florida well in advance of Michael). When late one night, after an event at the Roostertail, Michael was surfing the web he discovered not just another enamel pin or sugar packet from the parks, but various elements of some recently refurbished attractions. He was hooked. With each click of the mouse he grew more and more excited, so excited that he eventually invested as an equal partner in the business of acquiring surplus inventory from the company and reselling it to various vendors and collectors.

MouseSurplus hit a few bumps in the road, and has since reorganized, and Schoenith and his partner have gone their separate ways. Now entirely in the hands of Schoenith, the company’s astounding inventory and good name are making a comeback this summer. And the lesson of making sure the magic remembered is the magic delivered has stayed with the Detroit native; he’s determined to make MouseSurplus the number one clearing house for Disney dreams on the internet. It won’t be easy, and there’s a lot of work yet to be done, but the MouseSurplus crew seems more than up to the task when we visited them earlier this week.

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