Riding on the popularity of TV shows such as Storage Wars and Auction Hunters, a new thrift store opened in Coon Rapids this past Saturday.
Co-owners Craig Squires and Brian Dvorak have been buying storage units for years. Their decision to open The Unclaimed Storage Store (3050 Coon Rapids Blvd., Coon Rapids) was based on a lot of factors, according to Squires.
"We wanted to give back to the community we grew up in," Squires said at the grand opening. "We have seen the decline of the Coon Rapids Boulevard corridor with the advent of Riverdale, and wanted to locate our store there. It's a great area, with Anoka Ramsey Community College a few blocks away, and the new Ice Arena being built behind us.
He said the former Rapids Sports building, which was vacant, was "perfect for our needs.
"Being across the street from the new Goodwill gives shoppers twice the options for thrifty shopping," he said. "Our prices are going to be a bit different from theirs, though. All our clothing is priced the same. For $5 you can find a new pair of jeans with the $60 tag on it, a new shirt with its $50 retail tag for $2.50."
Asked if the popular storage-auction TV shows affected their business, Squires replied with a definitive "YES!"
"When we began buying storage units in this area, there was a core group of 8-10 buyers you would see at the sales. We got to know each other, and the bickering on the cable shows shown was non-existent. Now there is a crowd at each sale looking for that $10,000 vintage guitar or the safe filled with cash."
"While that can be a possibility, more than likely what they'll find after fighting over a unit will be normal stuff. Chances are, anything of real value has been removed already if the renter feels they may lose their unit to auction."
The Unclaimed Storage Store preceded its grand opening with a scavenger hunt, with clues posted on the store's Facebook page.
Sarah Heil and her daughter found the marked flyer to win the first $50 cash prize. The next contest will begin when there are 185 "likes" on their page.
The co-owners will also be posting sales and specials there, along with pictures of some of their finds for sale.
Squires pointed out one of his favorite finds: a five-foot long Budweiser drag racer model car.
"A Bud salesman came in when we first started setting up and saw it on the wall. Turns out it is pretty rare, one of 100 or so that were used in Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants' decor before Budweiser switched from sponsoring drag racing to sponsoring NASCAR."
Asked if it was for sale, Squires hesitated. "Well, yes," he said. "For the right price. But it's one of those things that is just, well, cool. It would have to be a pretty high offer."
Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.