Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

One sweet antique shop in Mankato, on the way to Hiniker (not Golden) Pond January 16, 2014

Love these letters showcased at Pond Road Antiques.

Love these letters showcased at Pond Road Antiques.

I DON’T RECALL exactly when I began to appreciate antique stores. It certainly was not in my 20s or 30s, nor probably even in my early 40s.

But now, closer to age 60 than to 50, I’ve developed a fondness for these shops that hold memories of my past. Nostalgia sells.

Not all antiques shops are created equal, though. Too much old stuff stuffed inside a dark, cramped and musty building overwhelms me. Artfully arranged merchandise in sufficient light draws me for a closer look.

Inside Pond Road Antiques.

Inside Pond Road Antiques.

Pond Road Antiques, just off Highway 169 at 111 Butterworth Street in Mankato, ranks as one of the most visually appealing antique shops I’ve shopped. While the exterior, a fancied-up new pole shed style building, doesn’t fit the merchandise inside, don’t judge a book by its cover. Inside you will find 38 dealers showcasing their wares in a visually pleasing way. Think designer display.

Here are a few photos of the merchandise (I failed to photograph the exterior) shot this past summer after a stop at nearby Hiniker Pond Park, where my poem, “The Thrill of Vertical,” is currently posted as part of the Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride. (Click here to learn about that poetry project.)

"The Thrill of Vertical," located next to Hiniker Pond.

My poem, “The Thrill of Vertical,” located next to Hiniker Pond.

I’d suggest a jaunt to Mankato to check out that poetry, scattered throughout Mankato and North Mankato, and to peruse the appropriately-named Pond Road Antiques.

My husband, Randy, and I were thrilled to find this vintage straw cowboy hate. We reminisced for awhile about watching Westerns on TV and getting new cowboy hats each summer.

My husband, Randy, and I were thrilled to find this vintage straw cowboy hat. We reminisced for awhile about watching Westerns on TV and getting new cowboy hats each summer while growing up.

With a soon-to-be son-in-law with the last name of Schmidt, I find myself drawn to Schmidt beer collectibles.

With my eldest now married to a Schmidt, I find myself drawn to Schmidt beer stuff.

I nearly flipped when I saw this toy accordion, just like one I had as a child. I loved my accordion and it is the only musical instrument I've ever played.

I nearly flipped when I saw this toy accordion, just like one I had as a child. I loved my accordion. It is the only musical instrument I ever had the opportunity to play. I should have bought this although, if I recall correctly, the price was higher than I wanted to pay. But how I would love that toy accordion…

Unusual for sure and, well, I've always thought grasshoppers were interesting insects to watch.

Unusual for sure and, well, I’ve always thought grasshoppers are interesting insects to watch. Grasshoppers were everywhere on my native prairie when I was growing up. I love how items like this are being repurposed as art.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE antique shop?

FYI: Pond Road Antiques is open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Saturday and from noon – 5 p.m. Sundays.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling