10 Minnesota Towns for Antique Hounds

By Lisa Meyers McClintick

Minnesota native and home design superstar Nate Berkus discovered his love for antiquing in Hopkins, Minn.

A bell usually dings as you open the door, before inhaling the smell of old books, furniture polish, and a hint of wood and leather. Whether your weakness is vintage fishing baskets and skis for a cabin, or tea sets and costume jewelry, you’ll find them at these noteworthy Minnesota antiquing destinations.

Alexandria

Carriage House Antiques in Alexandria_Lisa Meyers McClintick
Photo by Lisa Meyers McClintick

Touches of the area’s Scandinavian and resort town heritage pop up in stores like Now and Then, which features four floors of antiques in a sturdy, elegant former bank building. You might find Norwegian sweaters, giant fishing lures and lifesavers among the many collectibles and nostalgic pieces. It’s among a handful of shops in Alexandria that also includes Past and Present Antiques and Carriage House Antiques (pictured), where vibrant stained glass pieces and lamps colorfully accent the furniture.

Bemidji

Northern Minnesota’s antiques tap into the region’s cultural roots at stores such as Back ‘N Time Antiques, which sells beaded and birch bark American Indian crafts, rustic wooden spoons and Scandinavian carvings from early pioneers, along with decoys, bait buckets, handmade fishing lures and more. You’ll also find three other antique stores throughout the city.

Buffalo

Antique shop in Buffalo_squareWatch for the historic barn on the east side of Highway 55 for a chance to get lost among the goods from more than 70 vendors at Buffalo Nickel Antique Mall (pictured). Colorful wooden chairs, kitchen cupboards, primitive decor and nostalgic signs fill the aisles. Look for more antique stores, such as Annie’s Attic, and second-hand shops along Highway 25 or in the historic downtown overlooking Buffalo Lake.

Crookston

Take a historic walking tour of this northwest Minnesota college town to check out two of its three antique stores that include Willow and Ivy Gifts and Antiques, a blend of new and collectible merchandise in the historic City Hall, and Crookston Floral and Antiques, with kitchenware, nostalgic signs and advertising, and collegiate sports memorabilia. Timeless Treasures Antiques and Collectibles blends furniture and glassware with primitives just off historic Highway 75.

If you’re serious about treasure hunting, check out the King of Trails Market Place every fall. The 400-mile stretch of flea markets, collectibles, crafts and baked goods runs from northern Hallock to southern Luverne.

Crosby

crosby shop 880x880.jpgSkis, snowshoes and fishing gear rank among the most popular items at this small-town shop northeast of Brainerd that has dubbed itself the “Antique Capital of the Lakes Area.” Crosby boasts seven shops along its compact Main Street, popular with cyclists visiting the nearby Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. Look for Lincoln Log toys, Iron Range postcards, burnished canoe paddles, a CanAm Flyer sled, and souvenirs from Minnesota companies such as Pillsbury at Hallett Antique Emporium and Abbey House Antiques, which have both been around for close to two decades.

Northfield

This thriving college town—famous for chasing out the Jesse James Gang—can claim one of Minnesota’s best small-town main streets, with a few antique stores blended among fun, eclectic boutiques. Don’t miss Antiques of Northfield, which displays plenty of merchandise, but also doubles as an unofficial museum dedicated to TV lamps, a quirky product of the 1950s. The shop’s high ceilings provide room for shelves that hold close to 2,000 of these colorful ceramic creations from pink flamingos to aqua seascapes.

Red Wing

It’s fitting one of Minnesota’s oldest towns—and one famous for its Red Wing Pottery and handcrafted Red Wing boots—would be a hot spot for folks who love collectibles. You can find museums dedicated to both products, and dig for your favorite vintage finds at stores such as Pottery Place Antiques, located in the historic pottery factory. It features an extensive selection of pottery (of course), kitchenware, glassware and more.

Rochester

Antique shopping in RochesterHead to Rochester’s charming and historic Third Street to explore John Kruesel’s General Merchandise (pictured), one of the city’s most venerable antique stores. It has an emphasis on American antiques, lighting, jewelry and historic documents. Other good picks include Old River Valley Antique Mall for primitives and quilts, and Mayowood Galleries for English antiques, oil paintings and more formal collectibles.

Rochester offers nine antique stores and hosts the three-day Gold Rush twice a year (in May and August). The event, which began more than 40 years ago, brings together antique and flea market dealers from across the country to the Olmsted County Fairgrounds.

Stillwater

Stillwater downtown shopping_Bonnie Fechter
 Photo by Bonnie Fechter

Often considered Minnesota’s grand dame for antiquing, Stillwater’s historic Main Street near the St. Croix River provides a vibrant setting for a handful of antique malls. With multiple sellers and specialists, it features one of the biggest selections of rare books and vintage furniture in the state, with multilevel shops and treasures from early maps and cookbooks to ornate tables and buffets that would look at home in the city’s elegant Victorian B&Bs.

Two Harbors

North Shore Architectural Antiques has a special pull with anyone who loves renovating older homes. Look here for rescued and salvaged one-of-a-kind finds such as doors, windows, lights and hardware that are rich in character and history. Duluth boasted the nation’s highest number of millionaires per capita in the late 1800s, giving the area a wealth of Victorian decor, along with arts and crafts and art deco styles. Further north, look for Second Hand Rose, a flea market along Highway 61 near Beaver Bay.

Find more Minnesota antique stores on the Shopping page.