Retro, re-purposed and re-loved is the theme of Minne-Mile’s vintage neighborhood

BY STEPHANIE FOX

Shopping for bargains in the 21st century has become chic instead of cheap. Thrift stores used to be cramped and grimy. No longer.  People are heading to them in droves, now that everybody knows reuse and recycle are friendly to the environment. There’s even a new term for vintage shopper—“recessionistas,” describing someone modern and stylish, college educated, aged 18 to 54 who enjoys hunting for bargains. The new term for thrift is “vintage,” and vintage is hot.
In response, a number of entrepreneurs have opened up a handful of new and voguish vintage shops along what is now called the Minne-Mile, where the motto is “Retro, Repurposed, Re-loved.” (Check out the Minnehaha Mile shopping district on Facebook.)
These shops, along with many other nearby businesses, will be part of a June 3rd Minne-Mile NightMarket, a neighborhood gathering of boutiques, artists and food and drink vendors who will gather at Adams Triangle, 4051 Minnehaha Ave., from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. More than 1,500 people are expected to stop, shop and explore.
A lot of these stores have limited or weekend hours, but it’s worth the wait to find the perfect addition to your home or to your (whatever) collection. These are fun places. Bring your friends.
•Strange Boutique
3458 Minnehaha Ave.
Open Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 12 to 6 p.m. (but might expand)
Strange Boutique, one of the newest of the vintage shops on Minnehaha, opened appropriately enough last Halloween. The store carries bizarre and eccentric items—pulp fiction, odd advertising and promotional items, bones and taxidermy (dry and wet), gas masks for babies (think cold war) and doctor’s house-call kits. “We also have more normal items,” said owner Paul Durham describing “a dark green grandma chair that’s just comfortable.”
Durham is not new to vintage retail. “I’ve dealt with vintage and antiques my entire adult life,” he said. In the ’90s, he owned two shops—Swank and Time Machine—but he opened Strange Boutique because, he said, “I can sell anything I want. There are no strict parameters, but I wanted to have a fair amount of oddities.”
In addition to the vintage items, you can find new and quirky art pieces, like lamps made from streetlight parts. “It’s whatever catches my eye,” he said.
Durham said that most of his customers are creative and urban. “People come into the store. Some say that they are pleasantly surprised, some are shocked. Some say that they feel like they’re coming into a weird museum. And even if they don’t buy, they’re entertained and that’s OK,” he said. “We’re one of the few places in the Twin Cities that carries this kind of stuff. It’s not everything we carry but I wanted a portion of the store to have these unusual things.”
•Paris Apartment Antiques
3721 Minnehaha Ave.
Open every Friday & Saturday, 12 to 6 p.m. (and by chance or appointment)
Mary Anne Rivers got started in the antique business when furnishing her turn of the last century Minneapolis home, filling it with antiques she’d pick up at estate and garage sales. “I got carried away,” she said. “I couldn’t stop shopping and finding things so I had to do something.”  The answer was Paris Apartment Antiques.
The first of the Minne-Mile vintage stores, Paris Antiques opened 15 years ago. “I have things from every decade of the 20th century,” she said. “The other stores tend to specialize in mid-century modern, but I like all decades.”
More of a classic antiques stores and less funky than most in the area, Paris Antiques carries art, home décor, pottery, lamps, bric-a-brac and furniture, much of it elegant and stylish.
One of Paris Antiques specialty items is vintage costume jewelry “A lot of younger people think of antiques as little old lady stuff and expensive. But we have things for every age. Gals, young and old, love our jewelry.”
While there, “visit the Paris Courtyard, in the back and sit by the fountain and relax among the greenery,” said Rivers. It’s a perfect oasis with a French touch.
•Turquoise Vintage
3869 Minnehaha Ave.
Open Friday – Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For Toni Johnson, owner of Turquoise Vintage, the vintage business was a family affair. She hated being dragged around by her parents to flea markets and yard sales when she was a child, she said, but it got into her blood, especially when she started collecting and selling vintage Pyrex. “By 2006 my collections were getting crazy,” she said.  In 2013, she opened Tumbleweeds, an upcycling store and then, a couple of years later, Turquoise Vintage.
Her shop focuses on articles from the 1950s through the 1970s. “Groovy mod retro,” she calls it. She rents booths to four other vendors, including Lauren Jerle, whose booth is called Hope; Claire Rose, a transplant from England with feminine and fancy glassware and other Victorian items;  and husband and wife team Catlin Flowers and Charles Cieskowaki, who specialize in Japanese and Hawaiian pieces.
But, it’s still a family affair for Johnson. Her father, Steve, runs the booth in the back. “He’s got garage things, furniture with hairpin legs, sporting stuff like old golf clubs. When couples come in, the women can shop in the front and the guys can go back to the man-cave.”
“Vintage became a lifestyle,” she said. “I still love the thrill of the hunt—finding cool vintage stuff and hearing memories from customers. People will say, ‘My grandmother had this, my mom had this … ’ I never get tired of hearing these stories. That’s my favorite part of my job.”
•Time Bomb Vintage
4008 Minnehaha Ave.
Open every day, 12 to 6 p.m.
Time Bomb Vintage opened just two years ago, on the first of February, selling furniture, décor, clothing and collectibles. It’s a collective, with 15 vendors renting space in the roomy storefront.
We make it so it flows, said owner Dallas Poague. “It’s all vintage stuff, but each vendor has their own unique specialty.”
Most of the inventory comes from the 1950s through the 1970s. “It’s not really antique-y. It’s in a sweet spot. I’ve been dealing with this for 23 years. We’ve got pop culture collectibles and toys from the 1960s—TV and movies themes, food packaging, clothing, furniture—it’s fun and colorful and kitschy,” he said.
Poague owned a store 20 years ago but closed it and switched to eBay. “But, I missed the interaction with the customers,” he said.  “Doing it online, you never see anyone so I decided to open Time Bomb.” He was also motivated by a change in city rules for vintage stores passed in the ’90s.
“The city started treating vintage stores then like pawn shops, and all the antique stores went away. The rules included that you couldn’t have one within a certain distance of another. They got rid of those laws and now we have a bunch within a little stretch of Minnehaha. It’s become a shopping destination,” he said.
Poague thinks his collective approach works because “People like to hit three or four or five shops at once.” And, he said, “The idea of having other vintage stores in the area works to the advantage of all.”
•Junket Tossed and Found
4049 Minnehaha Ave.
Open Thursday – Monday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
According to Junket’s owner, Julie Kerns, the shop has a mission beyond selling vintage wares. Kerns is driven by the idea of a sustainable world, campaigning to increase what she calls the environmentally virtuous and socially responsible elements of life in Minneapolis. She wants to make it easy for people to find odd used stuff while eliminating waste and landfill. She’s especially happy to offer pieces by local artists who use recycled material in their work.
This May, Junket launched a Kickstarter campaign, hoping to shrink the square-footprint of the store and repurpose part of it for other projects, including a restaurant.
Junket hosts classes and special events as well. Check the website for more information.
•E’s Emporium Antique Store
3911 Minnehaha Ave.
Open the 1st and 3rd full weekends of each month, Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (or by appointment)
Celebrating its fifth year in business, E’s Emporium is chock full of vintage collectibles and furniture from the coolest decades of the last century, plus some truly unique handmade hats and lampshades, creations of the store’s owner, Ella Ritzman.
The sign on the front calls the store, “A marketplace … of sorts,” describing it perfectly. Ritzman admits that not long ago, she wasn’t so fond of the happening styles she now carries. The shop looks tiny, but the 1,200 square feet of space is laid out like a home and is bigger than it looks from the outside. Ritzman wants people to come in and wander the rooms. “People say they want to move in,” she said. Of course they can’t, but they can take something away when they leave.
“I should have realized that design and décor are cyclical,” she said. Her appreciation of the funky and fun items she now carries are bringing in regulars and neophytes. She said that people come in feeling grumpy. She serves them a cup of coffee and lets them explore the shop and the patio in the back. They come back with smiles, she said. The shop also supports local artists and will recommend repair resources if your new retro find needs a little work.

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