Mother’s Day is a little more than a week away, which means it’s time to start thinking about what to get or do for mom this year. If you’re over the age of 11, the days of giving cute little homemade gift certificates for foot rubs are over. No, it’ll take a little more thought than that, but there’s no reason to fret. Chances are your mom really just wants to spend some time with you.
Or maybe not. I don’t know your mom. But whether or not she prefers actual stuff to the pleasure of your company doesn’t really matter, because there is a way you can provide both: antiquing. Moms love antiques the same way they love Matt Lauer and telling you to play outside. So what better way to spend your Mother’s Day than taking her to antique shops around Minneapolis (keep in mind, there are no Colin Firth film festivals scheduled for that weekend)?
A&E is not the Antiques Roadshow crew, but we know cool stuff when we see it, so we poked around the city looking for antique spots and picked a few of our favorites.
Mall of St. Paul
1817 Selby Ave., St. Paul
Overview: The Mall of St. Paul, located at the corner of Selby and Fairview avenues in — you guessed it — St. Paul is a classic antique shop in pretty much every sense of the word. It has a ton of stuff and all kinds of it. Unexciting stuff like tea cups, tableware, porcelain figurines and old lady jewelry may be all over the place, but look past it. There are just as many interesting things as there are inane.
One especially interesting corner holds an impressive collection of print ads from the 1960s for products like Viceroy Cigarettes, Spam and TAB. You can just see Don Draper glowering as he comes up with the slogans all over each of them. Adding to the “Mad Men” vibes in the store are at least a dozen fedoras and a real live Chip-N-Dip.
The place also has fairly large record and LaserDisc collections, which are fun to look through even if you don’t have the means to play them. There are also a bunch of old paintings and all kinds of fun odds and ends. Don’t be alarmed if you get slightly weirded out in the depths of the basement. Any place that is chock-full of old stuff is bound to ride the line between charming and creepy. That’s half the fun of the trip.
Best find: An apron with a picture of two Scottish Terriers and the caption “Beam me up, Scotties!”
Vintage Music Company
1820 E. 38th St., Minneapolis
Overview: You’ll have to trek into the depths of south Minneapolis for this one, but it is well worth it. Keep in mind, though, that Vintage Music Company is no ordinary record store. Owner Scott Holthus specializes in 78s (records that play at 78 revolutions per minute). Most of these were recorded between 1900 and 1950. Holthus has built up a collection of about 1.5 million of these. Some were left to him in wills, traded for and bought the old fashioned way. The University of Minnesota’s own Radio K even left him with thousands of records when they could no longer store them some years ago. Because the 78 became far less common in the mid-20th century, many of the records in VMC are country, jazz or classical recordings from the 20s to the 50s. So the great catalogues of old favorites like Etta James and Elvis Presley are covered easily, but most record shopping here is for more intense audiophiles.
Mom might be interested in the equally extensive collection of antique record players and radios. Ninety percent of VMC’s revenue comes from the sale and repair of these machines. Each is tested to make sure it is still completely functional and most are beautifully mounted.
Best find: A decades-old recording of one of Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats” (probably not all that rare, but it tickled A&E’s fancy).
Hunt & Gather
4944 S. Xerxes Ave., Minneapolis
Overview: For the last time, I don’t know your mom. I’m not going to tell her how to live her life. But, if she enjoys decorating and home furnishing (I’m not saying she does, but if she does), then it won’t get much better than Hunt & Gather. It is overflowing with decorations and random things that might look cool in your house — vintage signs and sign letters, taxidermy, globes, etc. — and straight up furniture. That might not sound too exciting, but things in this place are really well curated. There is nary an uninteresting piece. Prices might skew a little high, but other than that, there’s no reason not to love it.
Best find: A doll head mounted in an old jar (Halloween is only five months away!)
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