Minnesota Rust’s small town store front has become a must-visit for style seekers and design enthusiasts
Walking through Andrea Stordahl’s store without touching the merchandise would be nearly impossible. The way she arranges her antique, vintage and found décor somehow captures your eyes—and the control of your fingertips—making you instinctively reach to feel the rough grain of a 70-year old workbench, the loose strands of a forgotten fabric or the faded green patina speckled over a brass serving dish. She wants it that way.
When she started Minnesota Rust, an antique, vintage and décor brand built from her passion and expertise in vintage styling and product finding, her goal was to inspire. “The underlying theme with many of my pieces is about triggering feelings of other times and rekindling positive memories made in your previous spaces,” she says. “I love it when people walk in here and say to me that they’ve found something they’ve been looking for, even if the thing they found was something they didn’t even know they wanted.”
Earlier this year Stordahl held a grand opening for her storefront. After weeks of hardcore renovations (with the help of several others), she was proud to bring her vision for vintage style possibilities to the world. The store might feature Swedish styled chairs, butcher blocks, vintage furniture and décor or even a stairway to nowhere. The studio, as she calls it, feels like something from a magazine. At any given time while you are there, there is a sense that an HGTV film crew could show up to film a new style segment or even whisk Stordahl away to shoot a new series.
Her storefront is not hard to find, but it isn’t where you’d expect it to be. Located in a former bakery and donut shop, Stordahl and her husband bought, gutted and renovated the space in McIntosh, Minnesota, a rural community with a population of roughly 700 in Polk County. After two years owning a storage space in McIntosh and traveling to antique and vintage markets in lakes country or Fargo to sell or buy, she decided it was time to take her passion to another level. She wanted her own store and her own brand.
In five weeks, the former bakery was renovated and made into a studio. “It was hard for the town. It was hard on all of us because there were so many emotions attached to the previous store,” she says.
Throughout the renovation process, Stordahl tried to salvage and maintain as much of the unique character the previous store had come with. Despite the difficulty of seeing a small town institution transitioning into something new, the studio was built in less than two months because of help from the community. “People came from everywhere. They made sure we had water and food and tools during our reno days,” she says.
Now, Stordahl has employees and opens for multiple days in the week. On the days she’s not open, she’s traveling (to Texas, Wisconsin or maybe even Europe) to find new pieces, talking on the phone with her impressive network of décor buyers and helpers, or, rearranging the store floor to showcase new items. “I can show people how they can use things they’ve always loved but never knew how to use,” she says. “I want people to feel like this is a place to get inspired and where they can find their own creativity.”
Ask her where she finds her unique items and she’ll have a different story for nearly every piece. She is used to taking calls from friends about new pieces or unique finds. “People want to help make this Minnesota Rust story successful,” she says. What was once a passion and fun is now a career, she says.
Most days start at the store or end at the store for Stordahl. While she works to build up the brand and help inspire people to understand the power and pleasantries of vintage, she is also busy with new plans for expansion in McIntosh and maybe other places, a desire that she says is only feasible because of her husband Bryce. “I say new things will be done in the next year,” she says. “My husband says no but he says it with a smile. So, it will be done.” G
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PHOTOS BY: CLOUD 9 PHOTOGRAPHY
From Issue 4, 2018