Springbrook Mall: Coon Rapids, MN

November 18, 2008

I’m going to be very honest with you. I don’t know why I am writing about this place. There isn’t much here *to* write about. It’s just your run-of-mill strip center with a few vacancies, forgettable tenants such as a tobacco shop, a Great Clips, and a big box anchor to hold down the fort.

See what I mean? Nothing to see here...

See what I mean? Nothing to see here...except some grass that needs mowing

But this little place holds a special place in my heart (and perhaps those of you who grew up around here) for ONE reason:

The old SPRINGBROOK 4 second-run movie theater!

Yeah, my parents were cheap. Even in the ’80s and ’90s, taking a family of 5 to the movies wasn’t easy on the pocketbook. In fact, our trips to a “real” movie theater were so isolated that I can name every movie we saw: ET, Jurassic Park, and Pinocchio (I know, WTF, right? I “get” ET and Jurassic Park but Pinocchio? Way to be random, mom!). Hey, I don’t blame them. I rarely see a movie in a theater these days anyway, and it’s mostly due to the price. I don’t know of any second-run movie theaters still around, except for that hellhole in Brooklyn Center.

So if we went to the movies, it was at a second-run theater – either the Springbrook 4 or the Terrace Theater in Robbinsdale (closed as well). On Friday and Saturday nights, this place would be PACKED. The lines would be wrapped around the building with thrifty people to see Wayne’s World four months after it was originally released for only $1. Schwing!

The Springbrook 4 opened in 1990 and closed in 2000. Perhaps their employees just couldn’t take all those annoying people walking out of the theaters & quoting lines from popular movies that have already assimilated their way into pop culture months ago.  Can you imagine if this place was still around when Napoleon Dynamite came out? I can hear the never-ending citations now – “Your mom went to college!” “Vote for Pedro!” “I caught you a delicious bass” “Don’t be jealous that I’ve been chatting online with babes all day”.

*HEAD EXPLODES* Those poor, poor employees.

Or maybe it was the competition from the shiny new Kerasotes 16 theater that opened in late 1997 that put the nail in the coffin? The Kerasotes 16 opening was a BIG DEAL back in the day. It had – get this – STADIUM SEATING! What a concept! If you’re a “shawty” like me, going to the movies always meant wringing your hands with worry that Sasquatch would plop his rump down in the seat in front of you and block your view. Now that stadium seating is the industry standard, the fucking GREEN GIANT could sit down in front of me and I’d still get to see High School Musical 3 in all of its beautiful cinematographic glory. Well, I’m not sure if that’s such a good thing. I think I’d rather watch the brussel sprouts grow out of the back of the Green Giant’s head than watch Zac Efron and Ashley Tisdale yodel peppy songs and do the jitterbug in front of a bunch of lockers. These days, Kerasotes 16 is kind of a dump.

Today, the Springbrook 4 is now part of a Sears Outlet.

Sears Outlet

Sears Outlet - this section of the strip mall is where the Springbrook 4 Theater was located

Sears Outlet moved from its former location in Fridley, off of Moore Lake Road. Not sure when that happened, must’ve been sometime this decade. The old Sears Outlet location turned into a Petters Warehouse (or should I say “Front for a Ponzi Scheme”? tsk, tsk…) for a while, but it moved over to a strip mall in Moundsview. Now it’s some “Great Deals” place that’s open like every third Thursday of the month or something incredibly inconvenient.

Tom Petters, center. Those sawed-off little guys are ALWAYS trouble!

Tom Petters, center. Those sawed-off little guys are ALWAYS trouble! (photo from StarTribune)

HOWEVER – I’m veering from the topic of this post. I’ll cover the closed Petters Warehouse store when I write about the Moundsview strip mall in which it was located.

Venture into Sears Outlet and youll probably find remnants of the VCR age

Walk into Sears Outlet and you'll probably find remnants of the VCR age

I didn’t venture inside of Sears Outlet. I only hope that this new location is a bit more organized and clean than it was when it was over in Fridley.  That place was a fucking mess, especially the electronics section (its biggest draw).  Think extension cords strewn about the aisles, exposed electrical wire half on the spool, and refurbished decade-old electronics with half of the parts missing.

But of COURSE theres retail space available! A strip mall isnt a strip mall without an empty storefront these days

But of COURSE there's retail space available! A strip mall isn't a strip mall without an empty storefront these days

Target Store #T-820.

Target Store #T-820.

Target Greatland opened in July 1992. Store # T-820.  Yeah, I used to work for Target. I know this stuff. You don’t see too many Target Greatlands these days; most have been converted into SuperTargets.

Red and green awnings give this place a year-round holiday ambiance. I bet Family Denistry has some KILLER Black Friday specials...

Red and green awnings give the Springbrook Mall a year-round holiday ambiance. I bet Gentle Dentistry has some KILLER Black Friday specials...

Another former tenant worth mentioning is Autofun, which opened in 1998 and closed in 2001. This store specialized in aftermarket car accessories and was located near the Springbrook 4 end of the strip mall, though I can’t quite remember its exact location. You could find anything from musical sun visors to Elmer Fudd mudflaps to sub woofers in that store. According to a friend of mine (a former employee), it went under because the business model was dependent on having multiple stores, due to buying power. The financial backers pulled out before they expanded the company. They were very similar to Best Buy (in fact, the owner of Autofun was one of Best Buy’s founders) in terms of selling product at low prices, which could only work if you purchased in huge bulk to drop the price per unit.  Since they only had one store, it was a loss with almost any product sold.  Their original intent was to open 20+ stores within 6 months of opening, which would have dramatically lowered the price per unit since they would have been buying 20 times more than they were.

The colorful flags tell me theres a PARTY inside of the China Buffet! Why, I bet its booze-fueled sex romp where anything goes! Party up in here! I wonder if the DJ will play Willenium if I ask nicely?

The colorful flags tell me there's a PARTY inside of the China King Buffet! Why, I bet it's booze-fueled sex romp where anything goes! Party up in here! I wonder if the DJ will play "Willennium" if I ask nicely?

The rest of the stores aren’t really worth mentioning. There used to be a Goodwill in this shopping center, but I believe it closed in late 2005 or early 2006.

Even though video rental stores seem to be phasing out, I doubt this Blockbuster Video will go out of business anytime soon. This *is* Coon Rapids & there are a bunch of people still stuck in the 80s. Last time I was there, I saw some kid with a rat tail. I almost called social services.

Even though video rental stores seem to be phasing out, I doubt this Blockbuster Video will go out of business anytime soon. Remember, this *is* Coon Rapids & there are a bunch of people still stuck in the '80s.

There’s a few places that exist right around the Springbrook Mall. There’s a Blockbuster Video, Payless Shoes, Panera Bread, Caribou Coffe, and a Half Price Books. And of course, the biggest draw if you have a discerning taste for soggy seafood – Red Lobster.

The only thing this place has going for it is the cheesy bisquits

The only thing this place has going for it is its cheesy biscuits

All photos were taken in August, 2008.

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13 Responses to Springbrook Mall: Coon Rapids, MN

  1. Jill on November 20, 2008 at 3:56 AM

    I’m glad to see a new post!

  2. [...] my poor mom is written about in this blog – so far, she’s deprived me of a slushie in Kmart…movies, and a wood-paneled mini van. But no, that’s really not the case [...]

  3. The Old Scowl on December 16, 2008 at 8:06 PM

    A great tragedy happened to me at the Springbrook theater: Back to back I saw ‘Nuns on the Run’ and ‘Ernest goes to Jail’. It pretty much made me lose respect for Jim Varney until his stunning return to the limelight as some prince in ‘Roseanne’ that steals the heart of the sister of the title character.
    The Goodwill has since moved up Coon Rapids Blvd. in Coon Rapids where the old Target used to be.
    There used to be a Book bin used bookstore but it moved up to Blaine and then to the Riverdale Commons, where it is now lost in the modern day labyrinth of Knossos that has a sister complex in the Arbor Lake maze in Maple Grove. I’m not that adventurous to get cheap books when Half Price Books is a 100 yards from the old Bookbin site and sells those nifty LP frames so I can display those cool Molly Hatchet album covers I get there as well.

  4. Disco Studd on January 14, 2009 at 2:52 AM

    Man oh man how this hits me where it hurts! I was one of those dorks who saw Wayne’s World a dozen times after it came out (at least 3 times at Springbrook, 4 at 65-Hi Drive In, 2 at Apache, 2 at the old Northtown General Cinema.) Schwing, indeed! (I even died my mullet black and dressed up as Wayne Campbell for a Halloween party that year!)

    Anywho, there are 2 “occupants” you forgot to mention that were once housed in the Springbrook Mall. First was a store called “COMB.” COMB was a chain of stores throughout the Twin Cities that sold merchandise Tom Petters wouldn’t dare touch (it was as if someone scoured the dregs of Petters Warehouse Direct, Jacobs Trading Company, and Brand Name Deals and put the crappiest crap of all the crap on sale.) It resided in the space once occupied by Goodwill. The second “occupant” was CR Billiards (which has subsequently moved into its own building next door to the mall.) My friends and I wasted many an after-school day (and even more money) hanging out there in the early 90′s (there and loitering at Piccadilly Circus in N-Town.)

    As far as Coon Rapids goes, there are a few other “Dumpy” strip malls within its city limits. If you’ve noticed, within the last few years they’ve built a new “Lifestyle” center up near Round Lake Blvd, Main St, and Hwy 10 called “Riverdale Commons.” Many of the “Big Box” stores that anchor Riverdale Commons once resided in a cluster of strip malls along Coon Rapids Boulevard, that now sit barren and are the definition of “Dumpy.” Rainbow, Target, KFC, White Castle, and OCB all left for the shiny confines of “New” Coon Rapids, leaving behind a wasteland of strip mall drudgery. Half of the old Target now houses Goodwill, the old Rainbow now houses Big Lots, the KFC is a Smoke Shop, the Toxic Hell is a Fantasy Gifts, and the Whities sits empty.

    Take a trip up there sometime, you’ll find some good fodder for your site!

    Keep up the good work! I could write a book myself about my experiences at Brookdale, Village North, Terrace Mall, Northtown, Springbrook, and Apache Plaza in the 80′s and early 90′s…

    • dumpystripmalls on January 14, 2009 at 9:04 AM

      Oh my gosh! You remember COMB! I thought I was the only one who remembered that store. Even my mom, who would TAKE us there, doesn’t remember it. We went to the one in Brooklyn Center (I believe the building has been torn down) and the one near Lake Street in South Minneapolis. Your description of COMB, comparing it to stuff Tom Petters wouldn’t touch, was DEAD ON and made me laugh! Ha ha ha!

  5. Disco Studd on January 14, 2009 at 12:06 PM

    My dad was a COMB junkie, so I know more about that store than I’d ever care to admit. We frequented the one by Brookdale quite often when we lived in Brooklyn Park (and the one in ‘Heights down on 44th and Central, which is now a Slumberland Outlet, I believe.) I think K&G resides on the site where the COMB in BC once stood. They had a Toys-R-Us there for a while, IIRC.

    I can still remember some of the crap “we” bought at COMB back in the 80′s. $5 Atari 2600 games that nobody ever heard of (except once I managed to score a copy of Pitfall!) RC cars that would only steer in one direction, ratty cassette car stereos that produced more static than actual music (or it could’ve been that my dad didn’t know how to wire up a car stereo, IDK), telephones that would cut out on you mid-conversation, “mini” B&W TV’s that would blow an internal fuse after 20 minutes of viewing. High-quality stuff, to be sure!!!

    My dad has since moved on to eBay to satisfy his craving for collecting useless, non-functioning junk, but that damn COMB still haunts my memories!!!

  6. [...] the Target store’s old space — this is the new location of the Goodwill that was in the Springbrook Mall. There’s also a Big Lots. Oh [...]

  7. The Old Scowl on June 4, 2009 at 3:06 PM

    COMB:
    I had forgotten about that place. I think that dads of the Upper Midwest were drawn to that place. Some sort of evolutionary branch from the trunk of “guys being drawn to hardware stores” tendency. I recall COMB being the kind of place that made BANKS look high class.
    I got a ten speed bike at COMB in the mid ’80s. My father was sold on it because it had an Avocet seat, which he claimed was a good seat. I guess the bike was fine, but a seat is no legit way to judge the whole. It was stolen about 6 years later in Robbinsdale on the day my little brother was borrowing my bike chain and lock. I guess it was the lucky day for that thief.

  8. Hanes Outlet on August 24, 2011 at 5:35 AM

    Hanes Outlet Stores…

    Springbrook Mall: Coon Rapids, MN « Dumpy Strip Malls…

  9. [...] dollar theater. I believe this was the only $1 theater in the area in the early ’90s (the Coon Rapids Springbrook Theater began showing $1 movies in the mid-’90s and both theaters near Brookdale were still first-run [...]

  10. Codi on July 3, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    I worked at Springbrook Theater in the summer of ’99. I still have memories of the terrible songs they played in their MovieTunes (think Lionel Ritchie and Pink) between shows while we cleaned the theaters. I think the manager of the place had a drug problem. I remember he was always very sketchy and had god-awful teeth that were rotted and gross, and was super skinny and just looked like a dude with a drug problem.

    On to other shops in the strip mall. There was a tobacco store, where the grown up employees of the theater would buy my cigarettes (thanks grown-ups, for being so grown-up and responsible) I think it was next to the theater.

    From an earlier age, I remember going to Olan Mills in the strip mall, where my family would get our Christmas pictures taken. It was always a big event and we’d have to go back weeks later to review the proofs, etc. So fancy.

  11. Anonymous Alcoholic on August 27, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    No mention of Chick’s ( later CR) Billiards and Cocaine Den?

  12. Stevie B. on January 9, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    Just down the road were the Springbrook Apartments, where some college roommates and I were among the very first inhabitants after it was built (1989). The complex was basically like one giant frat house in the summer of 89 and we would spend hours just people-watching from our deck.

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