Now that the Minnesota State Fair is over, us Minnesotans will have to wait an entire YEAR before we can see Minnesota’s best mullets, rat-tails, and muffin-tops on parade.
Don’t deny it – we all know you’re not going to the fair to oogle the riding lawnmowers or fawn over all that informerical shit in the bazaar. Quit kidding yourself; you go there for the PEOPLE WATCHING. And when the Minnesota State Fair shuts down for the season, the people-watching side show also shuts down. So how’s a people-watching afficiando supposed to get their jollies the other 50 weeks of the year? Well folks, I have the answer.
Come to the Northtown Mall.
Serving the exquisite north suburban communities of Spring Lake Park, Fridley, Coon Rapids, and Blaine, the Northtown Mall naturally attracts some very interesting clientele. Common creatures include -
- Mulleted men in wife-beaters with a round can popping out of the back pocket of the wranglers (Chicks dig that)
- Pregnant teens
- Toby Keith fans
- Middle-aged ladies with bottle-blonde frizz, teased mall bangs standing 8 inches high, hot-pink nails, and a stained NASCAR t-shirt pushing a stroller with 5 screaming brats fighting over a bag of rapidly cooling Burger King french fries.
See, it’s just like the people-watching at the state fair! Only in an enclosed, climate-controlled enviroment, open year-round! What fun.
Northtown Mall is a one-level mall, which opened in 1972 with a whopping 33 stores. It was remodeled in 1988 and, at the time, had 120 stores. Prior to this renovation, I’ve read that this mall was very dark & dreary (probably very Brookdale-esque), but I never visited this mall until 1992. I was a tween in 1992, and the best part about going to the Northtown Mall was checking out Spencer Gifts, Mr. Bulky, and Woolworth’s for their selection of “RUSS” Troll Dolls. Actually, I shouldn’t include Woolworth’s on that list – they only sold the “Treasure Troll” brand Troll Dolls, which weren’t as desirable as the Russ trolls. Anyway.
So if Brookdale is the Twin Cities’ ghetto mall, then Northtown is its trashy counterpart. I wouldn’t quite say it’s in Brookdale Center dead mall territory yet, but it has seen its better days. This isn’t a mall around which you’d plan your entire afternoon – unless you’re people-watching.
Northtown’s anchors have seen a lot of turnaround. Here’s how some of the anchors have changed (I am going completely by memory – if you have corrections, please let me know!)
Donaldsons (closed early 90s) > Carson Piere Scott (closed early 90′s) > Mervyn’s (Closed 2004) > empty space/hallway/Banks (sealed off early 2008) > Herbergers
MainStreet (closed 1989) > Kohls (closed Summer 2004) > Burlington Coat Factory
HomeGoods (Closed 2001) > Steve & Barry’s (opened 2003)
Montgomery Wards (closed 2001) > sealed off > demolished to make way for Home Depot
Woolworth (closed early ’90s) > Best Buy
Other former non-anchor stores in the Northtown Mall include:
Applebee’s (now moved to a location in the middle of the mall parking lot)
First Barber Stylists
Some pet store, next to the hair salon
Picadelly Circus Arcade
Kay Bee Toys
…I honestly can’t remember any other stores. If you know of any, please let me know!
Today, Northtown mall keeps chuggin’ along. In the past year, LA Fitness and Home Depot have set up shop, as well as a new Herberger’s store that’s expected to open within the month. Sure, it’s a trashy mall, but it has character, which many of the new malls simply do not have. In all honesty, it might not be the prettiest place, but it’s an okay-place to shop. It’s safe, has your typical mall offerings, and it usually isn’t terribly crowded (especially when NASCAR races are on the boob tube).
Enjoy the rest of the photos! (Photos taken August 2008)