A new collectibles store is coming to Blue Earth
Blue Earth resident Dan Duden says it has been his dream for years to open up an antiques and collectibles store in Blue Earth.
And now, he is just a couple of weeks away from making that dream become a reality.
“I was looking for the right building,” he says. ” I wanted one that also had some outdoor space, and there wasn’t much choice in the downtown area.”
Then, a little more than a year ago, he discovered the former Blue Earth Landscape building was for sale and he bought it.
“It needed a lot of work, but it had the space I was looking for and it also had some outdoor space on the side,” he says. “But it was in tough, rough shape.”
Duden hired local contractor Paul Smith as the general contractor, and some local sub-contractors as well. Those included Vets Glass, Ehrich Plumbing and Anderson Electric.
“We demoed it to the bare concrete walls and started over,” he says. “New Sheetrock, doors, paint, two handicap accessible bathrooms, electrical and a new furnace, water heater and central air conditioning.”
When it opens in a couple of weeks, it will be called Twin Oaks Sales and Events. Duden decided to make it more than just an antiques and collectibles store. It is an event center as well.
“I will have a kitchen complete with refrigerator and stove and counter space,” he says. “And seating for 100 people at tables and chairs.”
There is also a small ‘stage’ area made out of landscape blocks left over from when it was Blue Earth Landscape. There is a built in sound system as well.
He says it will be perfect for meetings, parties, birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, reunions and more.
And, his plan is to make the outside green space a place for gatherings as well. Eventually he will have gardens, patio area and maybe even a gazebo.
In the front of the building are the display shelves. Some of the collectible items will be Duden’s own, but other shelf and floor space are being rented out to others for them to have a spot to sell antiques and collectibles.
But, that is not all.
Duden plans on having set up what he calls the largest display of Legos brick building sets in southern Minnesota.
“I have been building with and collecting Legos for years,” he says. “I first got a Legos set for my son when he was two. He was too little to actually build it, so I built it for him it was a castle. But after I went into the kitchen and then came back into the living room, I found he had taken it all apart.”
That son, Blake, is now 36, and lives by Winona and Duden’s daughter, Rebecca, is 28, and lives in Mankato.
Duden himself is retired after teaching in Blue Earth for 34 years 28 in the elementary and 11 at the high school.
His wife, Sara, taught for 35 years before retiring. She passed away two years ago, while waiting for a kidney and liver transplant.
Duden himself has been battling some health issues.
“Sara died in March of 2017, and then in August of 2017 I was diagnosed with skin cancer,” he says. “I was going to have skin cancer surgery but when they got ready to do it, they discovered I needed to have a triple bypass surgery instead.”
He never did have that skin cancer surgery, but he does take an oral chemo therapy for it instead. And he wears a cap all the time because of the skin sores on his head.
“I know people are wondering why is this guy wearing a cap in the middle of July and it is 100 degrees out,” he says. “But I would rather wear a cap and cover my head.”
Having a few health setbacks has not slowed down Duden’s enthusiasm for his new venture.
“I am really excited to get this open,” he says. “I’m waiting for the tables and chairs and a few other things. I had wanted to be open by Labor Day, that was my goal, but it didn’t happen.”
He still wants to put up shelves all along the back wall which will hold his massive Lego collection. And he wants to use them as table centerpieces, as well.
“I might have a Legos theme, like Star Wars, going on each one of the tables,” he says. “Then switch to something else in a week or two.”
While Duden has some more modern Legos sets, he actually prefers to collect the classic sets.
He has Legos that are 30 years old in his collection. His oldest one dates back to the 1970s, and he bought it at a garage sale. It is a mother and a daughter in a kitchen.
“I might see if the school wants to bring students here on a field trip,” says the former third grade teacher. “Third graders would probably be the best age for this, and I could teach them about Legos.”
Duden has a Legos VIP number, and receives an updated catalog every month.
He obviously loves Legos, and now is excited he will have a chance to have a lot of his collection on display.
Duden also has something else he is excited about.
“I think we are getting to the point of making Blue Earth a destination for antique, collectible, creative arts stores,” he says. “If there is just one of those kinds of businesses, it doesn’t draw many visitors, but we now have a half dozen or so of them, so that means folks can come and spend an afternoon or a full day going from store to store.”
He thinks this concept should be marketed, and he adds he is excited to be a part of this resurgence in the Blue Earth business community.
“I think it is great, and I hope we all work together to promote the town and these specialty places to shop at,” he adds.
Duden plans a grand opening/ribbon cutting event later this fall at the new Twin Oaks Sales & Events center.