A bell usually dings as you open the door, before you sense the smell of old books, furniture polish, and a hint of wood and leather. Whether your weakness is vintage fishing baskets and skis for the cabin, or tea sets and costume jewelry, you’ll find them at these noteworthy Minnesota antiquing destinations.
Touches of the Alexandria 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 antique shops in Alexandria that also includes Past and Present Home Gallery and Special Memories, where you can find collectibles, toys, puzzles and unique gifts.
Northern Minnesota’s antiques tap into the region’s cultural roots at stores such as Back ‘N Time Antiques and Americana, which sells beaded and birch bark Native American 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.
Watch 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 Market. 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.
Take a historic walking tour of this northwest Minnesota college town to check out two of its three antique stores that include Willow & Ivy Gift Shop, 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.
Skis, 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, which has been around for close to two decades.
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.
It’s fitting that 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.
Head to Rochester’s charming and historic Third Street to explore John Kruesel’s General Merchandise, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Lisa Meyers McClintick is a prolific travel writer for outlets including USA Today, Midwest Living, the Star Tribune and her website lisamcclintick.com. A mom of three, she especially enjoys family travel, hands-on learning vacations, local food and farms, living history and outdoor adventures.
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