I decided to do this route from north to south this time as I was killing two birds with one stone. I wanted to end up close to the MN State Fairgrounds so that I could deliver papers to the Prime Promotions Antique Spectacular at the Fairgrounds which was taking place this weekend. I left Sauk Centre at about 8am headed for Clearwater and the Nelson Brothers Truck Stop - one of my favorite stops between Sauk and the Cities - and I find it's always much easier to deliver papers on a full stomach....
My first stop was The Vintage Cottage in Clear Lake where I arrived just as John, the dealer on duty for the day was opening the shop. The shop consists of two buildings, the main house with three floors of nicely displayed antiques as well as an out-building containing yard art, landscaping decor, farm primitives, and other such items. There are nine dealers who keep a nice variety of antiques, collecibles, and vintage items.
Leaving Clear Lake, I jumped on Highway 10 South and in tem minutes I was inside Pedal Inn Antiques in Becker, MN chatting with Joyce at the front desk. Pedal Inn is housed in an old 100+ year-old building with a lot of character, from the creaky floors to the Antique Hand-pulled elevator (in case you just have to have that large dresser that's displayed on the second floor). In addition there is a large warehouse out back that is also filled to the brim with a large variety of antiques. The ten dealers keep a good mixture of kitchen, architectural, advertising and other items from the 50's and 60's and earlier.
I continued southeast on Highway 10 for a couple of miles where I headed south on a back road (County 11) coming into Monticello from the north. I stopped first, just across the river at Riverstreet Station Antiques on – of course – River Street. You can enter from River Street on the northwest corner of the shop where there is a large parking lot or from Main Street into a smaller lot on the south (front) of the shop. Riverstreet Station is a big shop on two levels (main level and basement) as well as a balcony that overlooks part of the main shop. There are numerous nooks and crannies which makes for some great hunting. While I was there I watched Mike, the manager on duty, work with a lady to try to find the price of a doll that had lost its tag. She told me it reminded her of a doll she had when she was a kid and she wanted it for her granddaughter.
Leaving Riverstreet Station it's a short walk west across the parking lot to Antiques Monticello. Arriving there I met Ann, the owner and Deb, the manager working at freshening up the shop – that means lots of moving and changing displays. I found a good variety of unusual old toys and many interesting primitives. Both Ann and Deb stressed that you won't find any "flea market made-in-China" stuff here. Their dealers are very proud of the quality of merchandise they bring into the shop. Before I left, heading to Elk River, Deb gave me great directions to take the back road along the Mississippi River. It was easy to find and soon I was heading back northeast.
The drive was absolutely beautiful and in no time I was inside Antiques Downtown chatting with Terri and Jodi. They told me the shop comprises 12,000 sq. ft. on three levels (the main floor, one floor up and one down) and contains about 150 booth that are stocked by 50 dealers. There's a great variety - the shop is "Jewelry Heaven" according to Terri. And there are booths that range from "repurposed items" to fine old antiques and everything in between.
Heading south again on back roads it was a 15 minute drive to Albertville where I was soon inside The Old Albertville Creamery chatting with Barb and a couple of her dealers. The old creamery building is a fun one to explore. It’s 3,000 square feet on one level and there are many nooks and crannies all filled with loads of interesting items including military stuff, hunting and fishing items and lots of advertising – especially creamery advertising. Because of the name and location there’s “Creamery History” all over the building! Barb told me that the shop is 30 years old and several of the 18 dealers have been there since the shop started!
Getting back on I-94 south I was soon in Rogers – the site of four great shops. My first stop was USA Antiques in the shopping mall behind the CVS Pharmacy where I caught the owner, Evie, behind the desk. Evie has been in the Antiques business for 14 years and this is her second year at this location. The shop is 3,000 square feet and houses 15-20 dealers. She told me they strive for variety – a little bit of everything including primitives, tools, glass and good old junk!
From USA I drove “downtown” to Rogers’ original Main Street where there are three shops within walking distance of each other. My first stop was Antiques 101 and Collectibles where I met the manager, Julie, waiting on customers. When she finished, she told me the shop houses 40-50 dealers, “each with a little bit different line of antiques.” The shop is well-lit and there are several rooms chock full of interesting and fun items.
My next stop was two doors to the south, at Gateway Antique Mall where I found Tiera and her mom holding down the fort. Just after I started with The Old Times Tiera took over Gateway when it was still located on the northeast edge of town behind the Denny’s drive-in. Last May the shop moved to the downtown area and Tiera told me the move has been very good for them. It’s great that antiquers can come into a town and find four unique shops and places to eat – a good way to spend the better part of a day! Gateway has 40 dealers and the shop is about 4,500 square feet. They are still filling out the space after the move, but every day it gets better as the dealers bring in new items.
Right across the street from Gateway is Rogers’ oldest and largest Antique Mall, appropriately named The Antique Mall of Rogers. The owner, Barb, and one of the dealers, Kathy greeted me as I came in and I, of course had to have a cookie while we talked. Last year the mall celebrated its 25th Anniversary, and Barb told me they have dealers that have been with them since they started. As she says, they’ve all ‘weathered the storms’ together! The shop contains 65 dealers and encompasses 10,000 square feet on two levels. (It’s handicap accessible with an elevator to the upper level.) They have a variety of items that include great pottery, jewelry, furniture and many cases of unique and desirable collectibles. (And upstairs is one of the largest Christmas Cactuses I've ever seen. If you get there when it's in bloom you're in for a treat!)
Leaving Rogers I headed east on Diamond Lake Road and soon found myself in downtown Anoka. My first stop was Amore Antiques where the owner, Carolyn bills the shop as “7,800 Square Feet Of Joy”! Carolyn had the day off, but I met Carol and Marlys waiting on customers at the desk. They told me the shop holds 50 dealers on two levels and they have a great variety that includes owner Carolyn’s line of ’10 East’ jewelry as well as many other kinds of jewelry, toys, military items, advertising items, a book dealer – and lots of furniture and ‘Guy Stuff’!
About a block away (just across Main Street and still on 2nd Avenue), my next stop was Kyle’s Kollectibles. Inside I met Kyle and he told me they had been open just over a year. His shop is a quaint smaller shop that specializes in sports memorabilia and sports collectibles. But he also has a nice variety of antiques and vintage items. Not being a real sports enthusiast, when I think of sports I think of football, basketball, hockey and golf. I was surprised to see items for soccer, La Crosse, rugby, archery, and many outdoor sports as well. It’s a fun shop for any sports enthusiast!
Next I crossed 2nd Avenue and walked halfway down the block to Antiques On Main where I had a fun conversation with Lee and Pat, the two dealers who were on duty for the day. They told me that they were two of the original dealers who opened with Antiques On Main when Jeff and Nancy started the shop in 1992. It’s a fun old building that was at one time a drug store and then a wallpaper and paint store prior to becoming an Antiques Shop. They both noted that the forte of the ship is that each of the dealers carries a good variety of merchandise and they change things up often.
Another short walk two doors further down Main Street brought me to Peggy’s Front Porch where I met Peggy waiting on customers. When she finished we had a chance to talk a bit and she told me that she does the antiques and her husband does lamp repair and clock repair out of the shop. She noted that he also makes ‘Steampunk Lamps’ (vintage lighting designs created from cast off appliances or parts of vintage industrial items) and other fixtures from “upcycled junk”. It’s a very eclectic shop with lots of fun and interesting items.
My last stop in Anoka took me east on Main Street to 3rd Avenue and a block south on 3rd Avenue to The Artique where I met Mary, one of the owners in the large reception area. The shop is housed in a 109 year old white Victorian House appropriately called The White House. Mary told me it was built in 1904 by two doctors who had their clinic in the house. When you enter the front door into the reception area, the first thing that catches your eye is the large, beautifully refinished spiral staircase leading up to the second floor. The shop is filled with a nice mix of different types of furniture ranging from fine antiques to primitives to vintage. The 12 dealers have a nice range of other items as well - from fine antiques to collectibles to some re-purposed items.
This paper route was a lot longer than I normally do, but as I said at the beginning I was trying to kill two birds with one stone. Leaving Anoka it was a short drive to the MN State Fairgrounds where I met Lonny from Prime Promotions overseeing the set-up of the final 2013 “Antique Spectacular Show at the Grandstand”. The indoor spaces were full and a quick walk around the race track showed many outdoor vendors set up and ready for the morning. Lonny told me that, as usual, they expected quite a few more outdoor vendors to show up early looking for space. The weather forecast was for cool but sunny weather and the expectations for a good show were running high.