Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Have Been to Bauer Brothers. My Life is Now Complete.

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

I admit it.  I've fallen short on my duties in promoting cool housing items and amazing businesses right in my own backyard.  Quite a few of those in my close social circle have often spoke about going to Bauer Brothers for items that compliment the homes they have been rehabbing and restoring.  But I also heard so many of my south Minneapolis friends gush about how amazing this place is that I just assumed it was somewhere OTHER than right here in NoMi.  Certainly it couldn't be in Hawthorne, I thought.

But here it is, 2432 2nd St N, right behind the Holiday gas station where I buy my paper every day.  (That Holiday is the best gas station in this part of NoMi, I might add.  The clerks are always friendly, plenty of cops patronize the place, and they don't sell white tees or other obvious items that enable gang/thug activity.)

At a birthday party this week for Mr. Irving Inquisition, I spoke to several of my neighbors who expressed surprise that I'd never been to Bauer Brothers before.  To my credit though, most of the items for sale are geared towards owners of older/historic homes or antique collectors, not renters or tenants - items such as stained glass windows.

Wherever and whatever the Blue Fox was, it must have been a heck of a place.
Bauer Brothers is four stories of gloriously random odds and ends, ranging from the aforementioned stained glass to doors (front doors, closets, automatic sliding glass doors, antique elevator doors from the Fitz in St. Paul, and even old jail and safe doors) to furniture to movie seats and bar stools to hutches and light fixtures and appliances and just about everything you could imagine.  If you've ever gone to the Humane Society and felt an overwhelming urge to just take home every single adorable puppy in the place, then you've got some idea of what I was feeling here.

As excited as I was about virtually everything here, I took photos only of the oddest items.  There's just too much to take in otherwise.  Let's start with... of those doors.

Which, if you've got teenage kids, could come in really handy.  Your local municipality probably considers locking them in their rooms with this to be child abuse, but in their sulky phases they'll go voluntarily.  There's a smaller door that can be used to check in on them and another slot big enough to toss in the occasional frozen pizza.

Farther inside, behind the glass of a deli counter, were piles of older magazines.  I find that what was considered important news at the time of publication, as well as the literary and grammatical styles, and especially the advertisements, are absolutely fascinating.  It's like opening a time capsule.

And then we came across this, which nobody could explain to me what exactly it was:

Obvious lines about baptism by fire aside, what are these things?  A cursory Google search of both websites and images does not turn up anything other than small heaters meant to warm the water in a baptismal font.  Any readers out there know what this was used for?

This, on the other hand, was not so hard to figure out.  But the size of an eighty-year-old washing machine was quite staggering.  An entire family could wash their clothes for the week all in one load.  And apparently they wouldn't even need to take them off first.

But by far my favorite lost treasure was this:

There were still a few restaurants and other establishments that had cigarette vending machines in them when I was a kid.  Ah, the halcyon days of youth, where with eight quarters and no adult looking your way for about 45 seconds, you could be the proud owner of a pack of Marlboro Reds, and therefore the coolest kid on the block.  (Mom and dad, if you're reading this, I admit to nothing and also wish to point out that the statute of limitations on being grounded ran out a long time ago.  And don't get any ideas about that jail cell door.)

We meandered through three floors of wonderfully odd assortments.  But when we tried to go in the basement, that door was closed.  An employee told us that the basement wasn't open at the time because it was just too full of unsorted junk.  Sometimes that's where you find the best stuff.  This inevitably leads one to wonder:  What at Bauer Brothers is so random and disorganized in comparison to the rest of the store that it must be kept off-limits to regular customers?  I must know, and so a return to this establishment is in order soon.


  1. Bauer Bros. is a great place!

    That is a side arm water heater. These were typical in all homes before the advent of whole house water heaters. They allowed zoned hot water with a minimum of energy expense. This one just happened to be used in a church.

    There is a Blue Fox in Arden Hills -

  2. Wow! I have to go there and check it out. It seems like a real unique place with a bit of museum thrown in. Thank you for a very helpful and interesting tip on secret stores to discover. This site and others provide more of a public service than people give you guys credit for. A decent break from the other issues. Good Day.

  3. Several of the important fixtures of my house came from this place. They are super affordable.

  4. The large white display case in My Shoppe came from Bauer Brothers. I was thinking of utilizing one of the mortician slabs I found there for washing large stained glass windows. I was told they were bought by a florist.

  5. im working here know and you can come and explore the basemaent whenever you want as long as you write another article we have A LOT more inventory now that you might just love like 1920 movie projectors


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