2nd Hand Decorating and Design

The very first place I went after I got to the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener was 2nd Hand Decorating and Design. I saw it on the side of the road as I set out looking for a bakery or a candy store.. Let’s face it, most of the travels are guided by my pursuit of these two things. You won’t find this place online though, like a fair amount of my other favorite spots. 2nd Hand is owned by Connie Huspek who, by the way, is incredibly helpful. She is the one who told me I HAD to check out Molly’s Mess (previous post) and the McGregor Baking Co (previous post), whom 2nd Hand used to be located next to. Connie’s also very sweet, if you look closely, you can see her greeting me at the door! They offer vintage, handmade and one-of-a-kind ‘stuff’; up north meets new charm when it comes to all the refurbished items she carries. Because they are just getting set up from a recent move, are slowly filling their walls with furnishing, fixtures, accessories and decor. All great things to decorate the cabin! If you’re coming through, tell Connie I sent you.

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Mark’s Bar and Grill (Off Liquor)

As soon as I found out that the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener was going to be in McGregor, I knew I had to go to Mark’s Bar. A town staple that serves as a favorite watering hole for locals, vacationers, townies, “just passin’ through”s and overnight-ers; ask anyone in McGregor and they’ll know Mark’s. A tradition to everyone I talked to, Mark’s Bar and Grill and Off Sale Liquor is a one stop shop. People rave about their Bloody Mary’s but they are also known for their burgers, ribs, cheesy pizza and layered, sky-high nachos. The nachos I can attest to, and those pictured are actually the ‘small’. I will warn that the staff is a little tough on you, and they aren’t afraid to give you a hard time. If you don’t go with it, it’ll rub you the wrong way – especially you out-of-towners. Don’t worry, they’ll only slightly hold it against you, lol. They have a pretty impressive beer selection and even have an old bottle and can collection littered on the walls between old photos of the area. Whether you’re coming through on a snowmobile on your way to Eelpout, heading to your cabin off Big Sandy, grabbing ice at Off Sale or just looking to get out of the house, head over to Mark’s Bar – let me know what you think!

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Molly’s Antiques and More

I know. I. KNOW. I made that face, too. And yes, it’s far more magnificent in person. In case this pseudo residential roadside attraction hasn’t been introduced to you yet, allow me. Molly’s Antiques and More in McGregor was on my must-see list during the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener this past weekend. A cross between a hoarders paradise and a collectible hodgepodge, it is also know as “Molly’s Mess”, and don’t worry – she doesn’t mind you calling it that. She’s even got a sign, proclaiming it to any passersby. Molly is the greatest, I even spritzed my perfume on her! Long story. Ahem, back to the organized chaos. Ok seriously, what don’t they sell? From the shelves of license plates, old cameras, rotary phones, signs, teacups, beer cans, one of the most impressive vinyl record collection that fills a whole wall and the largest, creepiest collection of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls I have ever had the pleasure of trying to forget. The whole place has pockets and little treasure coves with assemblages of nearly anything you can think of. While I’ll admit that it shook my I’ve-seen-this-scary-movie-before nerve, it also made for one of my favorite personal stories on the #mnbucketlist. If you have some time and aren’t afraid of a little adventure in curio unearthing, you really ought to stop in.

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Minnestalgia Food Shop and Winery


One of the stops on the Tour of McGregor during the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener was the totally Minnesotan, totally delicious, Minnestalgia Food Shop and Winery. Yes, two things. The Food Shop came first, and has been around for more than 20 years. Specializing in fudge, and carrying 43 other Minnesota produced food items like local berry jams, syrups, wild rice, pancake mixes, soup, honey and maple syrup. That’s not all. With a bit of a north woods artist collective approach, they showcase some of the best goods and crafts ‘up north’ has to offer. Owned by Jay and Lori Erckenbrack, Lori takes care of the Shop and can tell you anything and everything including recipes for Aitkin County‘s very own Wild Rice. Seriously, she’s adorable. When it comes to taste however, Jay’s passion is all about the wine. Cultivated via their berry buying programs in several Native American communities around the state, they offer honey wines like blackberry, black currant, blueberry, raspberry, wild grape, wild plum and chokecherry. Open year round for tours and tastings, it’s no wonder why this doubleheader made the list!

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