Card Show! Fan Zone - St. Cloud, MN


Last March, I saw an ad for a card show in St. Cloud. Work commitments and yet another snowstorm cancelled my plans to make the 50 or so mile drive that day. I was going to wake up extra early, go to the card show, and spend some time driving around St. Cloud to several specific landmarks of interest. Hopefully I'd find some nice abandoned buildings to photograph along the way.

But it didn't work out...


A couple of weeks ago, I saw the same 1972 Topps inspired card show ad online. This time it had a new date... One that I would be able to attend! My old plans were new again!

I woke up at 8am, and headed out westbound on Highway 10. Stopping in Anoka (the town next over) to fill the car with gas and pick up a small bag of Beef Jerky for breakfast. Due to my anxiousness to depart, I neglected to make the toasted bagel I'd planned.


The last time I was driving through Ramsey, I noticed the old Total gas station has the windows uncovered. In 2017, I photographed the station when Trav and I visited Saxon Motors. Today gave me a chance to update those  pictures with a whole new set!


Here is the town of Big Lake's Big Lake. Which really isn't very big...


Highway 10 from Anoka to St. Cloud runs parallel to a set of railroad tracks, that more or less follow the road all the way to Fargo, North Dakota. As a child, watching these railroad tracks kept the ride interesting. There would usually be trains to watch several times on the way to relatives up north.

Today, I didn't see a single train on the drive to St. Cloud.

Photographing remembered landmarks on my way to and back from the card show, was an added attraction for me in going. Obviously, I wouldn't be going to St. Cloud if it weren't for the card show... In fact, the last card show I went to was in late 2003. One with only about 12 tables, inside the Mounds View Square shopping center. The last semi-large one I went to was a 24 table hotel show in Colorado Springs, back in September 2000.


Cards shows just aren't as prevalent as they were 25 years ago. These are just the major shows promoted by one collector group in Spring and Summer of 1995. With several smaller mall and armory shows nearly every weekend. Collecting was a different world back then, and I miss it.

So I had to make this one. If not for just acquiring new cards, but for material to write this story!


Whenever I go to a card show, I always walk around and look at all of the tables before I stop to buy anything. I need to see what the entire show has to offer before I plunk down any money. So while I'm doing that, here's a couple of other points of interest in and around St. Cloud, MN!


Just inside the city limits of St. Cloud is the state prison. A well recognized landmark from drives through town over the years.


Pulling into town, my plan was to drive right through, so I could check out my first planned stop. The Golden Spike Road exit off Highway 10, in Sauk Rapids, leads to the former...


Perkins (in the Pines) restaurant. A frequent eating stop of the family on our drives to the Fargo/Moorhead area throughout the years. As I was preparing my plans for this drive, I found out that it was now closed. Meaning I had a whole lot more interest in stopping by for pictures.


Driving back southeast on 10, back into St. Cloud, I see the railroad tracks that intersected the highway, have been removed. These were a couple of blocks north of St. Germain Street. The only stoplighted intersection of St. Cloud at Highway 10. They never seemed used, even dating back to the early 1980's. I think I only ever saw one train cutting through across 10 here.

After taking 10 through this part of town, I'll be exiting on Highway 23 west. Driving through St. Cloud and into Waite Park, where the card show is being held.

Meanwhile, back at that card show...


The first table to see some cash from me had several boxes of low end autographed and game used cards for $1, $2 and $3 a piece. That kind of stuff is always worth some time to dig through. Obviously the cards are going to be mostly autographs of failed prospects and relics of minor stars. But this kind of stuff is great for finding team specific fizzled out minor hits.

Parked in front of those boxes was a guy pulling out about a third of the cards from each row, setting them aside in stacks by his left arm. (He's not the partial guy in this photo.) Okay, so I guess those are the ones he plans on buying. This guy gave me an evil glare when I started looking through rows of cards too close to where he was.

Whatever dude, take a dump. 

After I pulled the Expos and Rockies singles that I wanted, I stepped aside and waited for the table running guy to come over so I could pay for them. I then see my irritated friend pulling out a Becketts from his backpack and starts price EVERY card he pulled from the box. Putting back the ones that didn't reach his "good deal" standards. He obviously wasn't going to pay 50 cents for a card that the Becketts says is only worth 40 cents. What fool would do that?!

To add to the mental picture this petty collector was painting, as he bent over his Becketts, his ill fitting shorts revealed more inches of crack than I wanted to see...

How many ways you gonna show ass, you tool...

Anyways... So what cards did I get from this table?


A bunch of autographed failed Montreal Expos prospects and a refractory insert of a Hall of Famer...


A failed former Twins first round draft pick...


Three former star Rockies relics.

Including Todd Zeile! Who played for 43 of the 30 Major League teams over his 14 year career. A couple of years ago, I was semi excited to get my first Rockies Zeile card. He only had a brief stay in Denver, on his way to a brief stint in Montreal. Now I have a Rockies Zeile relic!


And a couple more Rockies relics of note. McMahon was only $3, for a 3 color patch. Yeah I'm cool with that...


I'm less cool with the recent announcement that discount retailer ShopKo is closing all their stores. Including the St. Cloud store, which was holding their going out of business sale, according to signs along Highway 23. The discount retail market shrinks even more as WalMarts continues to expand...


Across the highway from the closing ShopKo, was an already closed Burger King. I remember once getting a drive through breakfast here, with my friend who was running the bar in Genola. (Story mentioned in this story...) We were an an early morning supply run to the St. Cloud Sam's Club, and someone needed a Croissanwich...

This former Burger King will likely be it's own story soon, I got some pretty cool pictures of the building and property... Which was fairly gross...


The railroad tracks running parallel to Highway 10, cross Highway 23 via this bridge. 

Only 4 miles to Waite Park, and the card show!


The St. Cloud Perkins is still open. They provided me and friends dinner once back in 1996. I ate a Supreme Burger. Perkins no longer makes the Supreme Burger... And they closed their Sauk Rapids location (in the Pines)... My former employer is not winning many points with me.


In the category of weird dated gas stations, we find the First Fuel Bank. A small shack, that I almost missed on my drive, set next to a row of eight 1970's era gas pumps.


Next door to another small building, that may or may not have been a part of the First Fuel Mart. 

Or something completely different. 

I have no idea...

Dime Boxes! 

I have a good idea about Dime Boxes, and how awesome they are to find at a card show!

A table by the door had two 3200 count boxes of cards for a dime a piece. In addition to a fair amount of junk wax era stars, there was a significant chunk of Donruss, Fleer and Topps commons from 1980 through 1984. Not something you see every day. I still have not put together any need lists for my chosen three team collections, so I'm still grabbing blindly from stuff like this. But at 10 cents a piece, I sure don't care if I get duplicates.


1982 Donruss Expos are sorely lacking in my collection, but this dime box provided 15 new cards to the few I had. Including that great Felipe Alou card, the Spaceman, and a really strange Jeff Reardon card. I think this is the only time Donruss pulled a Topps and airbrushed a logo for a traded player. Reardon (and his Fu Manchu moustache) is clearly still a New York met in this picture...


Various 1983 Expos needs.


And some various 1984 Expos needs.


Across the street from the First Fuel Bank's two tiny buildings, was an abandoned Wendy's. What's interesting about the abandoned Wendy's, is how much cleaner the closed fast food restaurant was than the abandoned Burger King, a mile or so down the road. Wendy's was very clean in it's closure, while Burger King was left absolutely filthy. Draw your own conclusions to how how each restaurant is kept when it was open...


North of Wendy's is the Bridge of Harmony. Who knew that was in St. Cloud?


Down the street from the Harmony Bridge is a really old Mobil gas station, which is now an auto repair shop.


Continuing west on Highway 23, there's another abandoned gas station. Though it looks rather well kept up.


St. Cloud still has a Bonanza Steakhouse, which surprised me. It was also really busy for most of the afternoon on this Saturday. Bonanza was a minor hit as a chain restaurant in the late 1980's and early 1990's, in the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Crapids got their Bonanza in 1985, and it lasted about 10 years before closing. As did most in the metro area around that time...

But not in St. Cloud!


At the city limits of St. Could and Waite Park, sits the Crossroads Center shopping mall. When I first saw the ad for the card show, I mistakenly thought it was taking place inside the mall. Instead, it's in a MUCH smaller shopping center to the north. The Google pictures I found of the mall included a recently abandoned Sears on the east side. The idea of adding a dying shopping mall to my photo tour of St. Cloud made the plan of coming up here even more appealing.


But Crossroads Center was anything but dying. The parking lot was full on all sides, and driving around the mall was sheer insanity on this Saturday afternoon. The anchor spot previously occupied by Sears had already been broken apart into smaller retail spaces. After seeing that from the road, I didn't bother spending anymore attention on Crossroads Center.


The place I was after was the "dirt" mall across the street from the big mall, DanTree Court.


Today's card show was being promoted by the Fan Zone card shop, located in the northern most spot in the shopping center. The center of these stores is an open "community" room, adorned with crafts and quilts, courtesy of Gruber's Quilt Shop.

I wore my Pedro Martinez Expos jersey to the show. My thinking was it may alert dealers to drag out a really cool Expos card, that they may not have otherwise sold.


Sure enough, the guy running this table said: "Have I got the card for you!" when I walked up to the table. He showed me a 201-whatever Topps Something Something Pedro Martinez Autographed Jersey Patch card, numbered 1/10. Beautiful chunk of the Expos E, backed by home pinstripes.

Sadly out of my price range, but what a great card that was...


However, his table had the 1988 Minnesota Twins Team Issue set that I've wanted for 30+ years. 

Which was in my price range...


Counting out some pocket change, I also picked up these Royce Lewis cards I didn't have.


This great 2019 Donruss Willians Astudillo card only set me back 50 cents. His extreme contact batting approach and defensive versatility has been a large factor in the Twins success this year.


Another table near this one had a larger selection of Twins cards, sorted by year and player. His cards were all in great condition, dating back to the early 1960's. I only spent $40 at his table, but would have liked to drop a whole bunch more...


A very colorful Bowman Platinum insert card of Jorge Polanco. Another big piece of the Twins 2019 success.


A 2005 Donruss Zenith Mozaic of Mauer, Morneau and Jacque Jones. These obscure insert cards are always hard to find. And it looks much better in person than this scan does.


Torii Hunter's Upper Deck Etchings card from whatever year it's from was another nice pickup that I'd never seen before.


Justin Morneau as a catcher still looks very strange. Thanks to this 2001 Just Minors card for showing it. But what's with the lines going through the photo. That's a really terrible design element.

After getting my fill of the card show, I left to get food and check out some more of town. Traffic quickly became obnoxious as apparently the entire population of St. Cloud needed to drive around Crossroads Center at the same time.


Not the greatest of photos, but here is a Chuck E Cheese sammiched between two abandoned stores. From the looks of the one on the left, I suspect it was once an Office DepotMax.


Bravo Burritos! My friend Trav took me here about 15 years ago, and I've been wanting another burrito ever since. As soon as the thought of coming up here for a card show came up, I knew that I was getting another burrito for lunch...

They are conveniently located next door to the most Minnesotan business name ever... 


Uff-Da Records!


And my burrito was well worth the 15 year wait. It wont be another 15 years before I have a third...


The card show was small, with dealers mainly selling singles. Surprisingly, no one had wax boxes for sale. Which was fine by me, that wasn't what I was looking for. Most of today's top rookies were well represented, as well as a smattering of Vikings, Timberwolves and Wild. But from what I saw being sold, it was a very baseball focused show. Without a whole lot of attention paid to overpriced graded cards.


With their hot record, the Twins were the talk of the room. The 2019 Twins, not the 1964 Twins...

More vintage and faux vintage from the Twins boxes...


4 Killebrews and a Carew!


The dime box table also had a 1969 Twins Yearbook. When I first asked about buying it, the guy running the table quoted me a price of $35 for the yearbook. I balked at that price and negotiated down to buying the 1969 book, the 97 dime box cards I pulled out, and...


A 1981 Twins Yearbook, for the grand total of $40. He accepted my offer. Only once I got home did I realize that I already had a 1981 Yearbook. Oh well, the price was still good...


When looking for other points of interest around St. Cloud, Laura mentioned Apollo High School. Named for the Apollo Command Module that sits in front of the school's main entrance.


Donated to the school by NASA in 1981. Which is pretty cool. I don't think too many other parts of St. Cloud have ever been in outer space...


Probably not Bremer Bank... Or even the Gray Plant Mooty. Whatever that is...


The Mississippi River crosses through St. Cloud. That's kinda special...

Some more from the Twins boxes...


9 Kirby Puckett's that I didn't have... Actually these are the first cards I've picked up from 1987 Classic. I still need a lot of the oddball boxed set Puckett's from the late 80's and early 90's. I never was much of a Puckett collector.


3 Bert Blyleven's... I really like that shot of Washington D.C.'s old RFK Stadium on that Upper Deck Whatever Something card. And I need to pick up a 1988 Donruss Baseball's Best set. I actually like the orange on the borders in this case. Plus, that 1975 Topps is just a classic.


9 more various Twins. Some newer older Twins stars in various Legends releases, the first Swell cards of my collection, and Bill Pleis? Why he would get a card in 2005 is beyond me...

Once I'd had my fill of St. Cloud, and all the various sites I wanted to see, I set out east on Highway 10. On my way back to the homelands of Crapids, MN.


Next to the white building with the red tile roof, that looks abandoned, sits the Americanna Inn Motel. Some 35 years ago, this hotel was part of the Best Western chain. Now it's an American Best Value Inn & Suites. In March of 1984, my family took a quick two day weekend getaway and stayed at this motel. It had a swimming pool, and an Asteroids and Space Invaders machines in the video game room, by that pool.


I bought this issue of Mad Magazine from the old Crapids Red Owl store, to read in the car and while there. Still one of the more notable issues in my Mad collection.

Before setting out on the highway to home, I travelled the frontage road for a few blocks to take a look at a couple more abandoned buildings on the south side of St. Cloud.


Including this old Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. Complete with a ghosted blue Colonel Sanders above the door. From outward indication, this appeared to be a recent closure.


Just as the former Pure Pleasure porno shop next door. Complete with it's former partial sign sitting in pieces behind the building.


Likely closed because the much larger Pure Pleasure porno store is still open on the north side of town. And St. Cloud just isn't all that horny... Or depraved...


One last look at those dime boxes I found so much happiness in today. The good stuff was just in the two boxes closest to the edge of the table. Most of the rest of the table was football cards that I had less than zero interest in.


Those dime boxes added two new Dan Quisenberry's to my player collection. I decided that I needed another copy of that 1983 Topps card. Just because his right arm looks so completely messed up in the picture.


Don't remember what year Action Packed made their embossed, red bordered Legends set, but the Kent Tekulve is another player collection need. In the early 1990's, upstart companies like Action Packed were trying really hard for a Major League Baseball license. And a card like this had definite potential for a full large scale set.


It wasn't very long ago that the Becketts called the 1982 Donruss San Diego Chicken as the 67th best card of the 1980's. And while I dispute that claim, I still ranked the card number 8 on the list of Beckett ranked 1980's cards that I didn't own. Well, now I own it.

For a dime!

Leaving St. Cloud, it was almost 4:30 in the afternoon. I wanted to be home by 6pm, so I was on schedule. Even an unscheduled stop at the St. Cloud Kwik Trip didn't set me back too much...


This building marks the unofficial location of the town of Cable, MN. Now an unincorporated community in the Haven Township of Sherburne County, Cable was once it's own small town, operating a post office between 1884-1892. For many years this building sat abandoned. Throughout my childhood, I remember it painted a dingy white with faded yellow trim.

My dad said it used to be a truck stop and restaurant, but it closed in the mid 1970's. I'd assume that as gasoline became scarce, places like this were among the first to go. Each time the family drove by, it looked worse and worse. Until the late 1990's, when someone bought the building, renovated it, and now it's some kind of business. With a bunch of vehicles in front.

I always wanted to explore it when it was still abandoned... Even though I was only 8...


Not far from Cable, is Clear Lake. A town of 545 people, according to the sign. I think it was maybe a quarter of that 30 years ago.


The big power plant that sits southwest of the town of Becker, MN. Another landmark from Highway 10 drives throughout the years.


8 Raines and a Dawson from the dime boxes. While I knew I'd be adding a bunch of Twins from the card show, I was very happy to find an assortment of Expos I needed.


Oh, one more Dawson...


And some more 1982 Donruss that appealed to me as I was filling out that Expos team set...


The first train I saw on the drive passed by just as I was approaching Big Lake.


Speaking of Big Lake, I regret not stopping for more pictures of this abandoned gas station. Which I know that I've been to before...

Elk River... 

Home of Kemper Drug and Gifts. With their old school light up neon sign that I also remember from my earliest days of traveling Highway 10...


Elk River's power plant. Which was once nuclear in the 1960's. All remnants of that era are long erased from the property.


Some dime box Rockies. I have very few Ellis Burks cards with him wearing Colorado colors. 


Why not a couple more? Matt Holliday rookie for a dime? Absolutely! I'm not sure if I have that Larry Walker or not, but for a dime, I'll ensure that I have it...


Coming out of Elk River, Saxon Motors is still indeed here.

(No sign of Flar, Dert or 2 Can$...)


When Ramsey decided to go all in on the North Star Rail Line Commuter Train, the city had this overpass built at the Armstrong Blvd intersection. A huge parking lot sits on the other side of the bridge. My feelings about the ridiculous North Star Line being a typical Minnesota band aid solution to a tourniquet problem of metro area traffic aside, it sure has made Ramsey grow...


The Shack With The XXX's used to stand here...


Sunfish Express used to stand here...


As I was getting ready to leave the card show, I found a $5 bill in my wallet. Seems wrong to leave a card show with cash still in hand, so I flipped through the baseball section of boxes at this guy's table. Finding a couple of very 1990's Expos inserts I wanted.


Both had an outdated $4 price tag on them. Neither card was worth $4 to anyone, including me. I asked the guy manning the table if he'd take $5 for the two cards, and he countered with $4 for both of them. Sure!


Instead of getting $1 back for change, I took this 2004 Upper Deck Preston Wilson in lieu of money. And I feel okay with that.

With that purchase, I headed out to the car and left the card show. I spent all the cash I brought with me and felt very happy with what I was leaving with instead of money.

The MVP of the card show has to be none other than...


Shooty!!!

Thanks to the awesomeness of this card show, and all the great abandoned buildings the city had to offer, this visit now ranks second on my list of all time trips to St. Cloud!


Nothing is topping the time I irritated Mystery Science Theater 3000's Mike Nelson, during an autograph signing at St. Cloud State University, in May, 1996.


Come Thank Again You Too!

Comments

  1. "Next door to another small building, that may or may not have been a part of the First Fuel Mart." IIRC, that building was a very small used car lot. If it's what i'm remembering, it always seemed super shady. I lived in SC from 00-06 while attending SCSU, for reference.

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