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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
All photos were taken in August, 2008.