About

Thanks for visiting my blog. I created this blog to document some of Minnesota’s retail establishments. I’ve searched the Internet time and time again and found several “dead mall” sites, but none strictly devoted to Minnesota. I figured, why not start one? I’m surely not the only Minnesotan out there who is interested in this sort of thing.

I wish I would’ve started this earlier, as there are so many places that have changed, gone out of business, or completely demolished that I would’ve liked to have covered. But – there’s no time like the present!

I try to be as accurate as possible with the information I provide (dates, mall tenants, etc) – a lot of this is based on memory – I could be wrong, and I know I’m definitely missing information, so I welcome any corrections to my articles. I’ve done research on the places I write about at some of the local libraries by searching old newspapers, but most of the time, the information I’m seeking just isn’t there. Which is why I created this site

On the posts prior to 2012, the photos are not the best quality (to put it mildly) and I apologize for that. Most of those photos were taken with the iPhone 3G camera or my old Olympus point & shoot camera. I have since upgraded to a DSLR and the picture quality is much better. I’m no professional photographer (and have no aspirations of becoming one!) but I love learning about photography and since getting the camera, I’ve been taking classes and reading books like nobody’s business.

If you have any pictures or information you’d like to contribute, please let me know! Or if you’d be interested in seeing me cover a certain retail establishment that’s not on this site, I’d be happy to hear about it! Suggestions are always welcome :)

If you’ve read any of the entries on this blog, you’ve probably noticed that this isn’t a hard-core historical research site. That’s not really my style, so if you’re looking for something more serious, this might not be the place for you. This blog is a hobby for me and a personal account of my experiences with these establishments and you might not agree with what I have to say. I use a lot of sarcasm in this blog — it’s all in good fun :)

That said, I hope you enjoy this blog – if you do, please spread the word! :)

44 Responses to About

  1. John Charles Wilson on September 11, 2008 at 4:25 PM

    Thanks for the informative site! I agree with you about most of the stuff. I’m also a “Twin Citizen” but I was away during two major changes in the culture of this area: 1983-87 and 1995-2006. Therefore the shock of how things have changed has probably impacted me more than if I lived here continuously. I remember when most suburbs were decent places. Brooklyn Park was high-class in 1982, believe it or not.
    I wonder if any of these malls can be saved? What do you think?

  2. The Old Scowl on September 21, 2008 at 5:34 AM

    You need to include the now-gone Village North Shopping Center that was on Brooklyn Boulevard in Brooklyn Park. It was razed some time ago and even plans to replace it with a mixed commercial/retail complex have gone to the wayside, replaced with rows of cheap townhouses that are a result of successfully cloning vinyl siding. There are a number of gone and dying strip malls along Coon Rapids Boulevard in Coon Rapids that merit study too. Crystal and Robbinsdale have some malls of interesting chameleonic abilities as well. How do I know? I live in the mall boneyard, it seems.

  3. Old Scowl on October 9, 2008 at 12:18 AM

    Try to resurrect some memories of Zanebrook mall in Brooklyn Park on Zane south of Brooklyn Blvd.. It too was a strip mall to rival Humbolt Square in the pucker factor. A few other strips hang on in the general area. Another place is the intersection of Xerxes and Brookdale Drive in Brooklyn Park. Kind of creepy at night.
    And take a venture in search of Zachary Lane Square or mall in Maple Grove. It looks like it never even got going before the retail areas to the south and west in Maple Grove along Weaver Lake Road sucked out the customers that were between the times of the old Main Street of Osseo shops and a latecoming small town enclosed strip mall that was Zachary Lane.

  4. eunos on October 20, 2008 at 4:42 AM

    I stumbled upon this site from the Brookdale wiki. Thanks for your effort, this kind of stuff is very interesting, and sad in a way too. Growing up in Crystal in the late 80s, Brookdale was a hopping place. Now it’s just pathetic.

    I live in Plymouth now, and it’s intersting to see the store closings in Arbor Lakes of all places. It’s obviously not “dumpy strip mall” yet, but for an “upscale” part of town they sure have a lot of empty store fronts. Sharper image, Smith and Hawken (closing after Christmas I think), Joe’s Crab Shack, Baker’s Square, Wickes, Linens & Things, Krispy Kreme are the ones coming to mind off the top of my head. I’m sure I’m missing some.

    Anyway, thanks again for your effort!!

  5. Rehcsif on October 27, 2008 at 5:05 PM

    Howdy– just wanted to encourage you to keep going with this blog. I found it a few weeks back, bookmarked it in anticipation of your future mall ramblings, but so far, my wait has been unfruitful . Would love to see more articles soon.

  6. Ashley on November 7, 2008 at 11:34 PM

    I think your blog is fantastic. It truely sheds light on what’s really gone on here throughout the cities in the last 10-12 years. Keep it goin!

  7. Chad on November 22, 2008 at 4:51 AM

    Awesome blog. I’ve been looking for YEARS for a site like this — dead malls are an interest of mine as well.

    As someone who grew up in the north metro in the 1980s, I spent much of my childhood at some of these places. My memory is decent, so I’ll try to help fill in gaps. You’re doing a great job though!!

    How about Har Mar Mall for a future entry? That place seems to die and (sort of) reinvent itself every few years.

  8. Laura on December 23, 2008 at 4:15 PM

    I enjoyed your blog. I came across it doing a Google search for Tom Petters (I didn’t realize he was the same Sun Country & Petters Warehouse guy, makes sense). I too (like Old Scowl) grew up going to Brookdale in the late 80′s. I now live in Phoenix so needless to say I really like looking at the photos. I cannot believe how much things have changes. Thanks a bunch!

  9. Laura on December 23, 2008 at 5:02 PM

    Does anybody remember a restaurant called “The Gazebo”? I think it was in the middle of Brookdale. Anyone remember???

  10. The Old Scowl on December 25, 2008 at 9:33 PM

    I was looking through the book ‘The Brooklyns’(put out the the historical society of Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park) that mentioned the names of two malls that flanked Brookdale Center and whose names I had forgotten until then.
    One was NorthBrook, which was on the other side of Highway 100 and was composed of 2 strip malls a service station, and a 2 standalone buildings with one business in each, which had been renamed ‘Hmong Shopping Center’ (by the name of the sign that was up for a brief period of time) before being bought by the city and razed for an unknown commercial development that I do not know of around 2004 or 2005. There was the only typewriter sales and service business I have ever seen in my life in one of the standalone buildings there. Minnesota Fabrics was in the complex, in addition to the Chuckwagon Inn (bar and grill), a martial arts school, laundromat, a hiking and camping store, Subway, hair and nail salon, video rental stores(many in the same storefront), and a Salvation Army thrift store.
    The second mall was a small enclosed mall called WestBrook, which had (over the years)as tenants BestBuy, before it moved to a new building where LaBelle’s/Best had been, The Good Earth, a organic/ natural foods restaurant, The Hobbit, which was initially a toy store and then morphed into a travel agency, as well as Maid of Scandinavia and some hair salons and electronic stores (where my family would RENT a VCR for a week as a treat in the early 1980s and watch movies that they rented out as well–they had nearly 3 or 4 hundred movies you could watch in the VHS format, but probably only one-tenth as many in the BETA format). It was razed in the mid to late 1990s to make way for the CubFoods and it’s adjacent minimall(s) that mimic the past Northgate complex.

  11. dumpystripmalls on December 26, 2008 at 11:45 AM

    Yes!! Oh my gosh, I remember those places! I clearly remember the Northbrook strip mall (after all, it hasn’t been gone for all that long). I used to go to the Subway there quite a bit, when I worked in the area when I was in college in the late ’90s/early00′s. It was the closest Subway to our office, and I was always a little scared to go in there. It seemed like such a shady shopping center – a lot of the places had bars on the windows. I never ate at the Chuckwagon inn, but I do remember it. There was also a Northern Tool & Equipment store in the parking lot of the mall.

    I remember Westbrook, but my memories are pretty vague. I think there was a Kids R Us there too, at one point. I don’t remember Best Buy being there at all – I had NO IDEA it had a previous location than its current location in the old LaBelle’s building. I do remember The Hobbit – I LOVED that store!

  12. The Old Scowl on December 28, 2008 at 11:50 PM

    Two more stores that had been in Brookdale Center:
    Claires. A cheap tweenage jewelry store. They still exist in the Mall of America.
    The Cutlery Shop. They sold knives and scissors. I can only think of The Sharper Image or Brookstone for those who would prefer blades to guns or tire irons in committing their homicides. But the prices were prohibitive, and Brookdale has never been a destination for those couples from Edina or Wayzata to pick up some fine Solingen steel for their kitchens.
    Did you include the Orange Julius franchise as a past fixture in Brookdale?
    A little factoid on the Brookdale area is that the Hennepin County Library was located in what is currently the area Girl Scouts of America office along Brooklyn Boulevard.

  13. The Old Scowl on January 3, 2009 at 2:17 AM

    Another little factoid or two: Dayton’s (remember back when?) had a home store in the WestBrook mall that faced toward Brookdale.
    There was also a bank branch in that section (though not part of the mall–an outparcel)that was round and all glass to presumably keep bank robbers away for fear of their acts being seen by scores of Brookdale and Westbrook mall shoppers.

  14. calenti on January 9, 2009 at 6:16 PM

    Factory Outlet Centre, Eden Prairie. The ‘re’ really brought the class.

    This was a mall between ’82 and ’86 where Suburban Ford/Chevrolet/whatever it is is now. It had a bunch of cheapo stores in it, including Linens n’ Things, Banister Shoes, Winona Fabrics, Frugal Frank’s Shoes, Island Sun…etc.

    It should have been a money machine; this was when EP’s population was doubling every two years, and the cops drove sky blue squad cars and helped change flat tires, before they all shaved their heads and gobbled steroids and turned into the SA.

    But it wasn’t. Why? It looked crappy, it smelled crappy and it sold crappy stuff at regular prices. So in ’86 it all came down and that was The End.

    Now it lives only in our dreams.

  15. D. Kendall on January 12, 2009 at 9:53 PM

    Your blog is awesome! I hope you can hit up the east side of the burbs, with such gems as Sun Ray and any strip mall in Hastings, Cottage Grove and Oakdale.

  16. BillB on January 18, 2009 at 12:43 AM

    For Sale: Brookdale Crossings
    Brooklyn Drive and Xerxes

    2940 Brooklyn Drive
    Brooklyn Park, Minnesota 55444
    Description:
    This is a neighborhood center located on one of the main corridor roads in Brooklyn Center. It has an Elks Lodge as one of the anchors with many smaller service retail stores rounding out the remaining tenancy. There is a large 25,000 sf block of space available which was a former Country Club Market grocery.

    The Elks Lodge is ONE of the anchors?
    Maybe the other was the ‘Outpost 2000′ where one could find comic books, board games, and uber geeks playing board game tournaments.
    (Store has since moved to Coon Rapids and the space is now a consignment store’)

    I’m in awe of the multiple ethnic food stores and the Avon store- no need for your neighbor to harass you!

    A church has even been built in the corner of the mall. This place is movin’ up!
    ———
    Brooklyn Square- Childrens Palace
    Was Superior to the Toys R Us (now a K @ B Men’s across from Brookdale)
    Unsubstantiated rumor- Childrens Palace would offer diapers and other items at price below its cost to draw more customers- Toys R Us employees would purchase all, then add them to their stores inventory…and thus began the end of Childrens Palace
    ——–
    Northtown- Brooklyn Park
    Ah, Circus Circus Pizza- the creepy old men discussed were actually downtrodden dad’s with the great misfortune of having to host a pampered child’s birthday party. In my visit during its death rattle, the animatronic lead singing bear had a paralyzed arm, while the wolf had a frozen eye. It was my first exposure to stroke victims.

    Radio Shack- once upon a time you could find a wide array of parts and components in the back when no ‘Axe Man’ existed at the time.
    Giving your mailing address ensured you’d recieve a catalog of coolness in the mail.
    Now RS has been reduced to just another cell phone vendor where one must wait in line while cell billing is argued in various accents and unitelligeble clicks and grunts.
    ——–
    RUMOR MILL:
    Brookdale is being considered as a site for a new MN Vikings stadium. The current MPLS MetroDome will fit quite nicely in this razed space. Unlike the MetroDome,there is also room for parking onsite.
    Across the road, the Center Pointe apartment complex is on the auctioneers block at the end of January 2009. Formerly the ‘Summer Chase’ complex (aptly named – when the TCF bank across the street was held up in the summer, police would often chase the culprits to their homes here) could become, along with other now vacant spaces in the area, even more parking structures. The city has a history of “eminent domain” seizures in this area, and due to the inordinant amount of police calls (over 30 percent of city total) this would be a prime opportunity to make this blight vanish.
    ____
    Hilarious, great historical reading- I LOVE this blog!!

  17. super rookie on January 24, 2009 at 12:27 AM

    870 Sibley Memorial Highway Lilydale, MN 55118

    Greatest strip mall ever.

    It has a western theme. Can’t wait to read your viewpoints on this pedestal of awesomeness to the consumer culture.

    Google streetview that shit for instant excitement.

  18. randamuko on February 9, 2009 at 9:47 AM

    I agree with the Lilydale strip mall, or the old mall in West Saint Paul on Robert Street (I shopped at the DOTS there all the time and got my ears pierced there at the age of 12 in none other than Two by Two)

    The other one you should look into is Eden Prairie Center around the time MallRats was filmed, it is really nice now but god what a piece of crap it was then.

  19. Dave E on February 9, 2009 at 10:37 AM

    Ah, the Lilydale strip mall…a classic. I liked it better when it was Diamond Jim’s mall. Was there a better-named strip mall in all of Minnesota? I doubt it.

    The restaraunt — what is it now, Moose Country, formerly Moose Preserve, formerly Jose’s, formerly Pony’s? And the awesome liquor store that would take the fake i.d. I literally made in my dorm room with a Polaroid and a printer? Great times.

  20. David J Rolon on March 16, 2009 at 9:05 AM

    My stomach hurts from guffawing so much at your Fuddruckers bashing! Just stumbled upon your site and glad I did. Kudos!

  21. James W on March 16, 2009 at 4:47 PM

    Hi and Congratulations on a wonderfully humourous and informative website!

    I too share the strange interest that many do with the life and death of the retail world, and I love how you captured the overall feeling from outlet mall veterans! (especially the ‘decoys’!!!)

    As a visitor to your friendly country at least twice a year, myself and my family have fallen for the regular price store trickery!!

    Keep up the good work and Thanks again for the painfully honest entertainment!

    Sincerely,

    James W
    United Kingdom

  22. Darrel on March 20, 2009 at 8:47 PM

    Hi..nice blog. I have been trying for years to remember the name of a toy store that use to be in one of the strip malls that suround Roseville Center in the 90′s. It isn’t there anymore. I think it’s a Joann Fabrics now. Can anyone remember the name of the toy store? Thanks

  23. JAYSON on May 17, 2009 at 4:47 PM

    you should do one on the the coon rapids family center mall i have always been curious about this place but cant find not history about it feel free to email me i like your website…. thanks for the flash backs lol..

  24. jayson on May 18, 2009 at 7:49 AM

    darrell? are you talking about childrens palace? looked like a castle?

  25. Dave Lansing on May 31, 2009 at 9:21 PM

    Wonderful work! Keep it up, and I love your humor :)

  26. bn on June 28, 2009 at 11:38 PM

    very insightful blog. love the witty humor.

  27. Melissa on July 2, 2009 at 4:22 PM

    I love, love, love your blog. It’s nice to know I’m not the only weirdo who cares about old dead buildings. I always wish I would have taken pictures of these places back in the day. You should go to Zachary Square in Maple Grove. That place is rather sad now, but it used to be great with Pat’s SuperValu and J’s Variety Hut. I used to go there for all my slap bracelets and clacker toys needs.

  28. Tony on December 16, 2010 at 10:46 PM

    Where’d you go?

  29. Ryan on May 4, 2011 at 6:39 AM

    What a great blog! If you are a returning visitor or a new viewer from searching the internet… the blogger, who has been posting these wonderful stories, accidently died falling from one of the (haunted) malls she was photographing in late 2009. She was traveling across the United States writing a marvelous book about abandoned, emptied, dysfunctional and misleading retail stores and restaurants. Yes, she was a pioneer before all the attention on Detroit’s dilapidated commercial and home real estate shown in recent photographs. An enormous amount of writings, video, photographs and interviews have been compiled, but are sitting in a secured storage until the legalities of her estate are worked out in court. Apparently family members and an ex boyfriend are claiming full rights. BTW, the ex bf is in jail for the next two years. Several publishers were making generous offers. A few television stations and syndicated radio programs were communicating on offering her a huge contract. The haunted mall apparently has photos of ghosts she captured along with video of a deceased 5 year old child in a black dress. Homicide detectives blurbed it to the local press after reviewing everything before the coroner determined her death accidental. I really hope someone respectable gets her stuff and publishes it soon. Publishes EVERYTHING soon. Maybe one of those shows like Ghost Adventures can do a story on her and the mall where she perished.

  30. tony on September 15, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    I just arrived from ’85 with marty mcfly, we’re heading to showbiz pizza for a little asteroids then catch a flick at the UA then popping over to the ground round for shots followed by dancing with all the hottest babes at TWrights. Oh i almost forgot, I was at Childrens Palace and they had the new Atari 5200, bitchin bro!
    Smell ya later from ’85!
    Tony Jabroni

    • Ralph on May 26, 2012 at 9:58 PM

      I thought I was the only one who remembered the ShowBiz Pizza Place in Brooklyn Center! It was in the still-standing building(largely unchanged on the exterior) at 5939 John Martin Dr. It was built as ShowBiz in the early ’80s and closed in ’87 when the MN ShowBiz franchise pulled out of the market. Brooklyn Center was the last one to close after the other ShowBiz stores in St. Paul (Midway & White Bear/Larpenteur), Bloomington (Southtown), and W. St. Paul (Robert St.) closed. The Brooklyn Center location became an Ethan Allen, then an Audio King, then an Ultimate Electronics store before that company went out of ‘biz (ShowBiz?) last year. I think it’s an Asian supermarket now. I have photos of the exterior as a ShowBiz. Where can I post them?

  31. Nate Modeen on October 29, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    Curious to know about “de-malled” malls-former enclosed malls that were turned into strip malls or other uses. Bonaventure in Minnetonka and Yorkdale in Southdale area come to mind. What did they look like and what stores were in them when they were new? Nearlt every second ring suburb and small town had a small enclosed mall usually anchored by a grocery store and a drug/variety store- Forest Lake, Shoreview, Eagan, Stillwater and a few other suburbs have or had one of these. If anyone has info or pictures of these malls in their heyday, please post

  32. Nate Modeen on October 29, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    Strip malls that were turned into enclosed malls in the winter by glass “garage doors” Rosedale Commons(now remodeled and stripped of the doors) and Burning Tree Plaza in my hometown of Duluth are the only two I know of.

  33. Mark on December 1, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    Stumbled upon your blog after seeing couple of your posts about closed MN restaurants I thought you might be interested in one I operate:

    http://cleanairquality.blogspot.com/2007/01/100-bars-and-restaurants-put-out-of.html

  34. James Yanke on January 1, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    Great blog! I love exploring places like these! If you are ever in the area check out 6007 hodgson road in Shorview, or the old Picadilly restaurant in Willernie. Both are great spooky places. Also the whole northland mall in forest lake is a great run down shithole! Keep up the good work:-

  35. Adam on May 14, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    There is a whole slew of dumpy strip malls on Winnetka Ave running from Hwy 55 north to Bass Lake Rd. When each one has a thrift store you know their better days are in the past.

    • dump1229 on May 14, 2012 at 2:39 PM

      Hi Adam — I just photographed the Winnetka Mall (the one with the Unique Thrift Store) this weekend, so I’ve got a post in the works on that one. It used to be a grocery store, but I have no idea what the name of it was, as I’ve only known it as Unique. There’s also that other strip mall with the Cinema Grill…that one’s on my radar too, but I haven’t photographed it yet.

  36. TheOldScowl on May 16, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    DumpyStripMalls.com:
    It’s good to see you back and reviewing the Twin City metro area’s malls. I had thought that the older site was just going to be there.
    I think the Winnetka mall site anchor was a SuperValu grocery store, but I am dependent on a not so reliable source (it’s a guy that worked there ages ago, and has been at a string of other grocery stores since).

    • dump1229 on May 17, 2012 at 8:19 AM

      Good to see you back at the site, Old Scowl :) It definitely has the look/feel of the old skool SuperValu stores — it could’ve been a Red Owl though too. The Unique Thrift Store interior still has the feel of a grocery store!

      • Ralph on May 26, 2012 at 9:35 PM

        Yeah, the anchor space on the end of the Winnetka Mall used to be a SuperValu. Before becoming SuperValu around 1990 it was a Country Club supermarket. I used to go there a lot as a kid because Circus Pizza was also in that mall a couple doors down from the grocery store at #4411. That Circus began life as a Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre in the early ’80s before converting to Circus in ’87. It closed in ’98 when Chuck came back to town and elected to shutter the New Hope location instead of reconverting it back to a C.E.C.

  37. doursonofagun on May 26, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    I’ll echo the others and say “Glad to see you back and posting!” This is the greatest blog in the universe and I pimp it to others whenever possible.

  38. TheOldScowl on May 27, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    Dear Dumpystripmalls:
    Is your gmail account still active? I might be able to find out more information on the Terrace Theater interior from a former employee. I am still enjoying your additions to the site and hope you keep up the fine chronicle of places of my youth.

    • dump1229 on June 1, 2012 at 7:59 AM

      Hello! I had to create a new one since I don’t remember what it was. My new account is dumpystripmallsblog AT gmail.com. Thanks!

  39. Jeff on August 12, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Another strip mall that, while not exactly dumpy (well, OK, it is), is the one on 40th-41st and Central Ave in Columbia Heights. I would like to post an article on this site about this mall, as I have many fond memories of it. Does anyone have any old photos of this mall from the early 80′s when it first opened up? Or are there any out in the Internets that you are aware of? Because the mall has no name, Google is useless. Thanks.

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