Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Minneapolis or Bust

One of the things we have found challenging living in rural Iowa is the limited store selection right in town.  For daily errands, we can find everything pretty easily but when we are doing major renovation, it is much more difficult.  With a project of the scale of our bathroom remodel, we needed to do serious shopping and research.  I spent a day in LaCrosse last week for initial searching of vanity dressers and fixtures with no luck.  Time to bring out the big guns- a full day in Minneapolis.

Between all the salvage stores, thrift stores and big box stores on my list, we had 14 stops to make.  With our rented trailer hooked to our trusty Subaru and kiddos at home in the care of grandparents, we headed out at 8 am to our first stop- our Craigslist claw foot tub find.  Craigslist people are all a little funny but we have had some good luck buying and selling various items over the years.  Our destination was Stillwater, Minnesota- a sort of suburb of Minneapolis right on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border.  Thankfully, the tub was as advertised and was easily hoisted into our trailer by Andy and the seller.  The seller also had the original faucet but unfortunately it wouldn't have been able to have a shower attachment so we did not buy that as well.

We had a quick bite to eat at Taco Johns.  This was our first experience with this fast food chain but a Wisconsin-born friend swears by it.  Andy got a Santa Fe Burrito and I got a Cheesy Chicken Grilled Burrito.  Both were pretty darn good and the nuggets of fried potato deliciousness that came with them were fantastic.

Bellies full, Andy checked on the tub one more time in the trailer, making sure it was secure, we headed off toward Minneapolis to the Habitat Humanity ReStore in New Brighton.  I have already regaled you with my love of ReStores and this one was no disappointment.  It was huge and had everything from construction supplies to appliances and furniture.  Unfortunetly, it didn't have the things we were looking for- lighting, a sink or faucets but it is a nice big ReStore and worth the stop if you are in the area.  They had some huge granite remnants I was salivating over.

Next on our list were a few salvage shops- Brauer Brothers Salvage, City Salvage and Guilded Salvage Antiques- all in Minneapolis.  All three of these shops do old house tear-outs before the demo crews come.  Mostly, everything is crazy expensive in these stores but sometimes you can find a gem that you can afford or it's just neat seeing all the antique fixtures (especially if you can make the stop without the kids who grow octopus arms in these types of stores).  Brauer Brothers was closed by the time was got there but we were able to hit the other two.  Guilded Salvage was a neat little shop with lots of lighting fixtures and various doors.  They had a few faucets but none that would work for us.

City Salvage was a bit smaller of a shop but in addition to their house fixtures, they also had a few motorcycles that Andy was checking out.  They had a random box of faucets I dug through with no luck.

Once we saw the claw foot tubs these shops had to offer, we were so thankful we found our $200 one on Craigslist.  The cheapest one we saw at the stores was $450 and in poorer condition.

After the salvage shops, our next group of stores were thrift or antique stores.  At these stops, I was hoping to find an antique dresser to refinish and outfit with a vessel sink.  Discount 70, located in Columbia Heights was not at all what I expected- all big box store misplaced furniture items.  Our next stop was It Takes a Village, located in Minneapolis.  On our drive over, we spotted this amazing treehouse.

A quick Google search reveled it is a 7 level treehouse, built in the 1980s by insurance salesman and residential property owner Mark Tucker.  The structure is not open to the public but you can take pictures of it from the sidewalk (we snapped our shots from the car).  The address of the home is 4800 Minnetonka Blvd and worth the drive by if you are in the area!

Once we arrived at It Takes a Village, we found a sign on the door:

A quick look at my watch confirmed it was already 3:40.  Since we had already driven all the way there, we decided to wait- he was already 10 minutes behind, he would be back any minute, right?  After waiting a minute or two, we decided to walk around back to see if there was another entrance.  As we came around back, a man came out of the back.  "You trying to get it?"  He asks.  "Yes, I replied".  He says he will be back in just a minute- I act impatient and say, "You'll be RIGHT back, yes?"  "Yes, Yes, just a minute," he confirms.  Again, Andy and I have already driven here and it's not like we can come back tomorrow so we decide to wait it out... in the cold and wind.

We debate whether his sign is supposed to read:  Will return at 3:30 OR Will return (written at 3:30).  At 4:00 he finally comes back.  At this point, I've decided that if we find anything we like, I am going to negotiate the price down $20- my time is worth $1 a minute to wait, right?  We walk in and actually, the store has some cool things and a lot of furniture.  I saw a mirror that I kind of liked for $8 though I was worried it was a little small for the bathroom and not quiet the style I was looking for.  I contemplate just grabbing the mirror from the wall and walking out with it- HIMYM "Aldrin Justice" style, but I know if I do that (though the store keeper is completely stoned and wouldn't have done anything), I would be looking over my shoulder the rest of the day so I rein myself in.  Unfortnetly no dressers at all, so we leave empty handed.

Our next two stops- Odds n Ends, located in Minneapolis and Attic to Basement, located in Bloomington both prove to be fruitless though both good antique stores with lots of furniture and good pricing.

With all hopes of finding a vintage dresser dashed, we went to plan B- check out big box stores.  We looked at IKEA and waffled a bit but it just wasn't the look I wanted.  We did purchase a sweet sheepskin rug, though that will serve as a bath mat.  We checked out Home Depot as well.  I also considered a Martha Stewart vanity set seriously but ultimately decided to choose something closer to my original plan.  A quick email later, I was able to set up a custom dresser vanity, completed by my favorite restorer, Melissa from Adourn.  I took a painting class at Adourn in the fall and have purchased a table from the shop- I love her work and am so excited to have her doing the piece for us.  She had an unfinished dresser which was exactly what we were searching for so it will work out well.

Andy and I wrapped up our shopping exertion with a trip to Menards to pick up general pl
umbing supplies and a new window.  We didn't end up with too much to show for our full day of shopping but we feel like we exhausted all options and now know exactly what we need to order to complete our bathroom remodel.  Sometimes you just need to search and search to know you are making the right choices but eventually you need to bite the bullet and make a decision.

Our shopping day ending with our, turns out not so trusty Subaru coughing out it's last breath and dying on the side of a rural road in Rochester.  Not the best conclusion to the day but we are thankful that we were able to complete all our shopping before it happened.  On the docket this week- finish tearing out the bathroom and deal with the Subaru, fun fun!

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