Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lindstrom: The new Swedish Mexico

Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending my Saturday thrifting with two of my favorite Marys, Mary W. and Mary D. (just like in grade school!), in the Lindstrom, MN area. Lindstrom, for those of you not familiar with the town, is a super adorable Swedish town with a bunch of antique stores, a tea pot for a water tower and one of the best (and cheapest) bakeries I have been too. I have been there several times before, but had only checked out their antique shops. So imagine my excitement when Mary W. suggested that we go check out some of the thrift stores she saw last time she was in the area. Then imagine my excitement when she told me there were four to check out. Then imagine my excitement when we found great things at all of them, had Mexican food and got to eat a donut with 50¢ coffee. BEST. DAY. EVER.

The Marys

The Mary's, outside of my favorite little Lindstrom bakery. Notice the tea pot water tower in the background. Notice how badass and sexy the Marys look. It was a great day.


One of my favorite things about small towns are the crazy elderly people who inhabit them. Unlike most urban businesses, these sorts of people don't worry about wearing their heart (or politics) on their sleeves, even if it might reflect "poorly" on their businesses. Here is one such display of speaking the truth, found at the bakery. I love this sign because it totally reminds me of my grandma Vera, who signed my Christmas card two years ago with "Hope you are having fun with your playmates" and a drawing of a drunk looking smiley face. I LOVE my grandma—she's where my sense of humor and lack of a filter came from.

Hot Dog

Small towns also come with outrageous displays of showmanship, presumably in the name of drumming up more business. Here is a picture of a naked hot dog on top of the meat market. No bun, no mustard or ketchup. Nothing. Bare bones dog, chillin' on the roof of the meat market. Totally Lindstrom.

Thrift Store sign

As we are here to discuss thrifting in Lindstrom, not the sights, here is a picture of the sign for the first shop we stopped at. Handpainted signs that merely say "Thrift Store" = a very good sign indeed! Just the sort of thrift shop I want to blow my monies at!

Jesus Tag

Of course, with small town thrift stores, you also run an even higher likelihood of experiencing those with a Jesus-freaky feel to them. Sometimes this is a bit much, as it was in the third shop we stopped at, Recycled Wardrobes, which verged on a consignment/resale shop. They had bible verses printed on their tags. Still, we found a few quality pieces there, which means we won. And, as Rebecca Leeman from Drop Dead Gorgeous says, "Jesus loves winners."

Our trip had an unexpected twist, however, in that it wasn't all Swedish-influenced. In fact, despite the strong Lutheran sentiment and acknowledgement of Lindstrom's Swedish sister city (Tingsryd), there was a definite Mexican-influence shaping our trip. Chimichangas aside, there is another reason why I am arguing that Lindstrom is the new Swedish Mexico—because we found some of the most amazing Mexican bags* ever found thrifting!

Mary's Mexican Purse
Mary's Mexican Purse (inside)

First off, Mary W.'s leather tooled purse. These are a dime a dozen at resale shops, but this one was only $4.99, in perfect condition, with a beautiful clasp and even a mirror and spot to put your cards (drugs). This was also the only item we found at the second thrift store, which was a bummer. The store was expensive with a disappointing selection. Mary D. almost threw down $20 for a set of 6 espresso-sized cups with birds on them before deciding against it. We did not, however, let this keep us down, and from there, treated ourselves to some (Mexican) lunch.

Woven Backpack

I had thrifting freakout when I found this backpack at the first shop. All afternoon, I kept grabbing it out of the backseat so I could stare at it in wonder. I cannot wait until the spring thaw is over so I can sport it while biking around town.

Crazy Mexican Messenger Bag (side 1)
Crazy Mexican Messenger Bag (side 2)

Isn't this the most amazing tooled leather Mexican bag you have ever seen, ever?! It is so amazing that I paid $3.99 for it even though one entire side of it was ripped off. I brought it to work to have my boss' husband, Nate, (who does leather work) check it out (hence the lighting...the color of the bag is much more carmely amazing piece!). Keep your fingers crossed that he can fix it! Found this one at the super religious shop. I also got a pair of forest green knee high socks there for 50¢ (I am not above thrifting socks).

I also picked up a ton of pieces I cannot WAIT to wear as soon as it gets liveable outside again (like, 70 degrees).

Check out this most amazing pairing of totally 80's biker babe pieces (found at the first thrift shop, the one with painted sign):

Vintage Sturgis Tanktop

An original 1989 Sturgis tank top. SHUT UP!

I wasn't sure about these jeans—like most high-waisted mom jeans, they are a bit paunchy in the front, which is pretty unsexy. They are, however, nicely fitted in the legs, which is rare, and are that perfect light, almost white, denim color that screams "biker babe." Plus, they are Levi's orange tag, which is rad. Mary D. wants me to wear them as soon as possible so she can "stop feeling nervous about them." They were only 50¢. FIFTY CENTS! I had to get them. So I did. It goes without saying that I can't wait to wear this outfit to the Joint for $1.50 rail drinks (on Mondays) and cheese curds come spring.

And then we have some sexy 90's L.A. beach wear (picked up at the last thrift shop we stopped at, Family Pathways (the new Family Pathways, which is technically in Forest Lake (see my special trip to Forest Lake and the old Family Pathways here)):

Floral Bikini (top)
Floral Bikini (bottoms)
Floral Bikini (detail)

Too bad we already did our Swimsuit Thrift Off! This floral bikini swimsuit with shorts is pretty much one of the most tubular suits I have ever seen.

Venus Crop Top

Cropped "Venus" tank. I can't even look at this without imagining I am hanging out with Pauly Shore in Santa Monica. Sigh.

Black Mesh Shorts

Mesh shorts. Eat your heart out, American Apparel!

Then we have some serious vintage plaid finds:

Vintage Plaid Jumper

A plaid vintage onesie that buttons up the side with pockets! (A last minute find at Family Pathways—always keep your eyes open!)

Plaid Wool Vintage Skirt

Plaid Wool Vintage Skirt (detail)

Since I am getting so pumped about warm weather wear, I was not as excited about this vintage thick wool skirt as I would have been had I found it in, say, September. Still, I had my Marys with me, and they convinced me to get it. I know they were right—another reason why it is always good to shop with a trusted friend (or friends).

And finally, some cheap earrings (also found at Family Pathways):

Gem Earrings

"Cicada" earrings that both the Mary's vetoed (despite the fact that it helps to have others around for the editing process, sometimes you have to listen to your heart!)

Gold Earrings

Gold earrings for 25¢, a true steal!

Like my trip to Forest Lake, I can't wait to return. And maybe this time, we can coordinate it with the "picket fence" antique sale that takes place occasionally in Lindstrom. I mean, why not?

*"Mexican bags" can be a rather loose term, but as both of the leather bags were actually made in Mexico, I am lumping in the woven backpack with these as well. Stylistically, they fit. And most likely, the backpack is at least a South American friend.


  1. That tooled purse is absolutely amazing, what a find!

  2. i don't know what i am more jealous of...all these finds, thrifting in lindstrom, or spending a day with the marys. sigh.

  3. At a flea market here in Santa Fe (I am currently in New Mexico...) I found several equally amazing tooled purses. I was especially in love with one even though I just found that other one in Lindstrom and asked the flea market lady what it cost. She responded "I'll let that one go for $45 which is a steal because normally they're $65." Actually, normally they're $4 (not $4.99 holls). Now THAT is a steal.