Abandoned Gas! Andover Convenience, Andover, MN

Happy Thanksgiving.

I'm thankful for a lot of things... And ranking high on the list of things I'm thankful for is abandoned gas stations. I don't know why, but I just love them!


I'm also thankful for Wasted Quarter! 

So to continue the grand 25th Anniversary WQ Celebration, I present another re-written and updated chapter from the unreleased "Coon Rapids Issue". This would have slotted in as issues 62-65, and was intended to have been printed in 2008.

But it never was...

Here is a (mostly) unseen front cover mock-up for thoughts of the last gasp of a possible printed Coon Rapids based issue of Wasted Quarter, when I thought I may print it in early 2016:


But enough of that... 

Here is a new combination of the old story of Bunker Lake Blvd, wrapped in the new story of the latest former petroleum dispenser to achieve Four Baggers immortality: Andover Convenience!


Originally built in the late 1990's as a Mobil station, to accompany the rapid suburban growth up Hanson Blvd, just north of Crapids and into Andover.


Shortly after it opened, super evil SuperAmerica built an even larger station on the opposite corner. The competition became too much for Mobil, and the station was sold to an independent owner.

I'm not sure when this happened as I lived in Colorado during the entire span of this station's life.


Andover Convenience featured Unique T-shaped canopy, with angled pumps like a major interstate truck stop would have.


The covered walkway from the pumps to the station was a nice feature to include, given the unfriendliness of Minnesota weather. I'm surprised that isn't more common.


Despite it's prime location, Andover Convenience closed for good in 2012. I think more people used it's access points as a right turn bypass of the busy intersection at Hanson and Bunker Lake, than ever bought gas there...

The closure of Andover Convenience, and it's subsequent demolition, marked one of the first casualties of the 1990's redevelopment of this area. Cleanup of Bunker Lake Blvd, west of Hanson, began in the late 1980's, with the Construction of Downtown Center, at the Round Lake intersection, a few miles west.

But that's a story for another day...


Not back in 2006 either...

Not even when Downtown Center was an enclosed mall, home to such stores as Superfun arcade and The Dugout Sports Cards...

Repurposing this part of Andover would be a great deal more difficult than just clearing some land and putting up a shopping mall.

Until it's major clean up in the early 1990’s, this was the gross part of Andover. The land had been holding thousands of barrels of toxic waste, "millions" of discarded tires, and decades of a wide variety of pollution stored here needed to be dealt with before it could be converted into usable retail.

A very detailed account of just how disgusting this area of Bunker Lake Blvd was and how it got that way, can be found in this 111 page EPA report, dated April 1990. The report outlines the plan for clean-up before redevelopment of the area can begin. Laying the groundwork for south Andover's transformation over the next ten years, converted a basic toxic waste dump into a fairly successful mixed use retail commercial zone.

Which is just a different kind of gross, the type that's harder to look at...

However, the Bunker Lake Blvd that I remember was full of 6 or 7 different auto wreckage and salvage businesses. Just a bunch of junk yards as far as the eyes could see. With names such as Anoka Auto Wrecking, Jellison's Andover Auto Parts, Bob Larson's Auto Salvage and Wilber's Yard. As a child passenger in the folks car, I loved looking at the vast acres of destroyed automobiles as we drove down Bunker Lake Blvd. Everything looked so cool back then!


Only Kottke’s Bus Service survives in this location from my childhood, maintaining a large garage and lot full of school busses. Their bus yard used to stand out amongst all the trashed cars surrounding it, but now it's blended into the neighborhood quite nicely.

"What are you gonna do? I work at POV'S!"


That line is from an old Wasted Audio recording (January 2001), where Doktor John was talking about the loud and pompous Alpha Male attitude that you'd find at clubs of this variety. Much later on, a guy on facebook commented that POV'S was a "Giant Bro Warehouse", which also made me laugh.

Needless to say, I'd never been to POV'S. Like Andover Convenience, POV'S life spanned entirely while I was living in Denver. But had I even lived next door, I would have never gone to POV'S...

And a lot of other people just quit going there...

POV's was closed in 2012? (I'm not sure about that date... Could very well have been earlier.)


Shortly after it was closed, POV'S was scraped from the face of southern Andover, over taken by a Walmarts... Who not only tore down the building, but also cleared out many acres of trees to build their giant middle finger of retail...


Which is a kinda neutered Bro Warehouse, if you think about it...


Bye POV'S... 

In the words of Chad, as played by Doktor John; "I'll kick your ass later!"


On September 22, 2015, I was finishing up a visit to Crapids and would be heading back to Denver later that night. The car I would be driving was seemingly leaking transmission fluid over the week plus that I had been in town. After a fill up, I took it for a test drive around the folks neighborhood. Then I drove it up to Andover Convenience, knowing that if I didn't photograph the building today, I'd likely miss any chance to get it later.

At best the windows may be boarded up, meaning I couldn't take these shots...


The cashier area and restrooms... While I'm sure these counters were likely bogged down with all kinds of crazy impulse sale crap, the counter itself seemed very low. Especially considering the raised floor behind it.


On the Run? Looks like it already left... Just like the counters holding that bakery case, roller grill and fountain pop have previously departed...


The center shelving looked like it was currently being removed from the building, but the coolers were still intact so I could get pictures of them...

Much unlike something that I really wish I could have found a picture of online...


Andover Cinema is located roughly where the none-too-welcome Andover eye sore once sat, The Vapors Steam Bath House! Definitely not a place for all your hipster trendy smoking devices, The Vapors was finally forced out of business in the early 1990's, after being declared a "hazardous site" by the Minnesota State Board of Health.

If you want to read the fascinating legal summary written by the State of Minnesota regarding their case of The Vapors, a link to the PDF can be found here.

Trust me, it's a pretty interesting read...


Around back of the main store was the car wash building. You can tell the difference because it was given a blue facade instead of a yellow one, like the one on the main station.


From the height of the weeds growing out of the sidewalk, you can see that a great deal of time has passed since people have routinely walked on it.


Sadly, the doors were too frosted over to look inside the car wash...


With just a narrow driveway before the end of the property.


In case you are tired, Andover Convenience conveniently placed a bed outside the car wash entrance for nappy time! Don't worry, the sun killed all the bed bugs....


Oh... It's closed...


The car wash drive up menu board didn't have much for options. Looking behind the Wash n' Run, I was surprised to see the power to the main building had not yet been shut off.


West Vapors is now a stretch of business that calls itself Andover Station. A shopping center tying it's heritage to an Andover rail industry that never existed. (I guess it's better than admitting fault with their actual failed lake to the east...) Today, Bunker Lake Blvd is not lined with junkyards, instead it includes a Targets, Bowling Alley, Walgreens, Dollar Tree and Festival Foods (who moved east from Downtown Center a few years back), anchoring a strip of ever-revolving in-line retail.


The west end of Andover Station today houses an abandoned Belli Capelli boutique. Around 30 years ago, this was roughly where the home of an illegal tire dump that once sprawled out over this land. The same one that caught fire and burned for several days, on two separate occasions within a year.

Of course there were a lot of rumors flying about the cause of the fire, back then and even now. Years back, I read someone's telling of the tale (via facebook) along the lines of this...

In early 1990, either the state or county called the owner and said there were trucks on the way. They were going to start hauling the tires away from the site and fine him 25 cents a piece.

The junk yard owner asked: "What's the fine for polluting the air?" 

State EPA official: "$500"

Junk Yard Owner: "They'll be on fire when you get here..."

State EPA official: "Oh wait a second..."

I don't know if that story is true, but it's pretty funny to think it may be...


See, they couldn't just throw all these tires away! Not in any dumpster in Andover! It's just not that Convenient!


Damat! They already threw away the hot dogs...


A little bit further west of the tire fire, and a lot wester than Andover Convenience, was Speedy Market. Or whatever it was called in 2006... Speedy Market hadn’t officially been called that in it's last 15 years, but was how it was always known to me. Speedy -now Stop n' Shop- was a convenience store that I only used in later years on an emergency basis, as their prices were ungodly expensive... 

In the early 1990’s, Speedy expanded their building to house several store fronts next door to the north, creating their own mini strip mall. I specifically remember a video rental store and an indoor sun tanning place operating there at different times over the years. Military Mike rented Mortal Kombat for the SuperNoFriendo here, during his February 1995 post-Haiti layover at the folks house. In earlier days, I bought comic books and baseball cards at Speedy, long before they changed the name and jacked the prices...


Speedy closed sometime between 2010 and 2014. Then it was torn down and replaced by a two story ReMax office a year later.


Here's one more look at the Bunker and Hanson intersection, out from under the Andover Convenience's T-Shaped canopy, towards the conquering SuperAmerica. Which has been obscured by a damn Kottke's bus.

Andover Convenience was demolished in early 2016. So I was right in never seeing the place again, after my pre-Denver drive photography session a year earlier.


11 months later, when I was in Crapids again, Andover Convenience had been replaced by an under construction retail center. And a rather plain looking one at that... You'd think that with all the vacant storefronts just a few blocks west of here, there wouldn't be a need to build more new ones...


But that's not how business works today...


After all, you can't get donuts, haircuts and cell phones just anywhere!


Goodbye Andover Convenience...

Hopefully you polluted the groundwater far less than your previous neighbors did.

No short bus necessary!

Enjoy your turkey and family today.

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