Antiquing Towns

By Mpls.St.Paul Magazine / Inspired by Nate Berkus' My North

Television host and home design superstar Nate Berkus attributes a large amount of his success to his hometown of Hopkins, and not just because of its school district (go Royals!). For Berkus, the essence of growing up in Hopkins was that he could spend hours on end picking through the antique shops along Mainstreet (local spelling), pouring through their unique wares in search of singular objects that nobody else had. Of course, Hopkins isn’t the only antique haven in the state. Here are five other cities worthy of a Berkusian browse.

Buffalo

Antique shop in Buffalo_square
The Buffalo Nickel Antique Mall has around 50 vendors

Unlike a lot of the entrants on our list, Buffalo’s antique action doesn’t all happen on one street, but that’s OK, because with stores as cavernous as these you’ll be glad your car is right out front to load up. The preeminent Buffalo bonanza is the Buffalo Nickel Antique Mall, located in an antique barn just off Highway 55. With around 50 vendors all vying to sell you the coolest tchotske you never knew you needed (until you discovered it), it’s practically impossible to leave BNAM without falling in love with a few of its antiques. Second Hand Rose, The Porch, Waldon Woods, and Annie’s Attic are among the rest of this central Minnesota town’s antique buffet.

Two Harbors

Accomplished antiquers know that if you want to forage through the richest stash of stuff, you should go to where the richest people once lived. And in Minnesota, that’s the North Shore, where millionaire timber and mining barons were stacked like cordwood at the turn of the 19th century. One must-stop in Two Harbors is North Shore Architectural Antiques, where you can sift through the Victorian relics of millionaires past. Nearby in Duluth, Harbor Antiques and Chester Creek Books & Antiques are both worth a browse, or continue north along the shore and get lost in Second Hand Rose, a sprawling flea market in Beaver Bay.

Rochester

Although Rochester is better known for its medical center, the southern Minnesota town that the Mayos built also has some of the best antiquing in the state. Visit one of the city’s massive antique malls, like Old River Valley, Mom’s or Old Rooster, which offer multi-vendor collections that will take all day to sort through in their totality. Or take a tour of one-off shops like Karma Consignments, Peterson’s Antiques & Stripping and the grandpappy of Rochester antiquing, General Merchandise.

Stillwater

Stillwater Midtown Antique Mall by Alma Guzman
The Stillwater Midtown Antique Mall, photo by Alma Guzman

Perched along the stately St. Croix River, it’s hard to beat Stillwater for stroll-worthy Main Streeting. Add in the fact that you can peruse one of the finest collections of antique shops around and now you’re really talking. Spots on Main Street that are worth a hunt include (but are absolutely not limited to) the Midtown Antique Mall, the Stillwater Antiques Mall, Staples Mill Antiques, Blackletter Books and American Gothic Antiques. And, if none of the 10-plus Main Street shops have what you’re looking for, a short drive back toward the Cities takes you to the 7th Avenue Antique Mall and/or Danny’s Antiques and Auction.

Northfield

Main Street in Northfield is somewhat infamous among history buffs. In September of 1876, the Jesse James Gang rolled into town expecting an easy bank robbery, only to be chased out of town by Northfield’s heavily-armed citizens. And even though historically Northfield isn’t too fond of robberies, we guarantee one or two of the quaint antique shops along Main Street will steal your heart. Hodge Podge Que, Northfield Emporium, Vintage Etc and Seven Gables Books & Antiques are among the more standard-issue stores in town, while Antiques of Northfield steps up the game a notch into borderline museum territory.

My North is a weekly video series created in partnership with Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and Explore Minnesota. If you missed Nate Berkus' story, view it here.

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