Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A garage sale in Stockholm, Wisconsin November 4, 2011

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YOU KNOW HOW every once in awhile you discover this treasure of a place and you can’t wait to tell family and friends, “You have to go there!”

Honestly, that’s my feeling toward Stockholm. Wisconsin. Not Sweden.

I’ve already published two posts on Stockholm—about J. Ingebretsen’s av Stockholm and Chandler’s Books, Curios.

Today you’re going to get another look at one of the shops tucked into this quaint Lake Pepin-side village of 89, just across the Mississippi River from Minnesota.

We’re stopping at A+ Antiques & Oddities, billed as “2 floors of quality antiques & art, vintage, handmade & new items as well.”

Sometimes the building that houses a shop draws me in as much as the merchandise. Such is A+ Antiques, based in an old garage. With the overhead door flung open on an autumn afternoon, I walked right into this former auto repair shop (I assume) and marveled that the smell of grease didn’t linger in this space of white-washed cement block walls and a bank of windows in the rear overlooking the train tracks out back.

The overhead garage door entry into A+ Antiques & Oddities along Wisconsin 35 in Stockholm.

But if there were traces of grease or oil spots on the cement floor, I didn’t notice. Maybe because I was too busy gawking at the goodies, wishing my sister Lanae was here to try on hats, straightening a mannequin’s wig and wiggling my way around all the tight spaces with a camera bag on my hip.

Lots of merchandise, including these lamps, fill the old garage.

These casseroles caught my eye and I considered, just for a moment, purchasing them.

I found the mannequin as intriguing as her hat.

My sister Lanae is insisting the women in the family all wear hats for Christmas Eve church services. Perhaps the men should, too. I see some fine choices here for my brothers. Remember when men wore hats to church?

I should tell you right now that even though I really, really enjoy browsing in antique shops, I seldom buy anything. I’m a bargain shopper and prefer to purchase my vintage and/or antique treasures at garage sales. Yes, if you’re attentive to word usage, you would stop me right here and say, “But, Audrey, this is a garage sale.”

You would be right. And you would be wrong. Because you know what I mean.

I found plenty I wanted to buy. Bowls. A lamp. Perhaps a hat for my sister—if I could have decided which one. (She knows how I struggle with fashion choices.)

But the print of singing turkeys was not on my “I want” list.

I especially like vintage prints and paintings, but not this one. Would you buy it?

When I saw this piece of art, I felt my face involuntarily screw up into an expression of disgust. It would make the perfect Thanksgiving hostess gift, as long as you aren’t coming to my house for Thanksgiving.

After perusing the first floor of merchandise, I walked outside, around the building and down the hill, following the path of bales, to the basement. I stepped inside. The Lone Ranger and Tonto greeted me. Childhood memories flashed before my eyes.

Awaiting me on the lower level...the Lone Ranger and Tonto. "Hi-ho, Silver!"

That happens to me often whenever I browse in an antique store. And I suppose that’s as it should be, because, truly, aren’t sales connected to memories?

No memories in this metal box for me. But perhaps for someone.

FYI: If you want to shop at A+ Antiques & Oddities, make haste to Stockholm. Wisconsin. Not Sweden. The store is open Thursdays – Sundays until November 15 only, after which it closes for the season.

The shopkeepers at A+ Antiques & Oddities.

All of Stockholm doesn’t close down, however. Many upcoming special events are planned, including Stockholm Women’s Weekend this Saturday, November 5, and Sunday, November 6. Click here for more information.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling