There’s a 1937 Elgin bicycle in the window of Kyle’s Kollectibles.
When Kyle Grabinske first saw it, he had no idea what it was worth.
But he fell for its story, told by a woman who explained it was her father’s first bike. Now she was ready to part with it.
He considers the store a foster home – a place where memories are cared for until they move on to a new home. The store is a mix of sports memorabilia, historical items and interesting knickknacks.
“I buy things because of their history, because of their stories,” said Grabinske.
He opened Kyle’s Kollectibles at 1925 Second Ave. S. in downtown Anoka last fall.
Since then he has been building clientele for a business he has been doing since he was a kid trading baseball cards. It escalated to buying and selling cars, or maybe a set of rims, to furniture and antiques.
Grabinske comes by those deal-making genes honestly.
His grandfather, Luke Brun, was always buying and selling something, he said. And his mom, Carole Grabinske, was a big part of the Anoka antiques scene for more than 30 years. She died last June after a three-year battle with cancer.
And he inherited his love of sports from his dad, Ken Grabinske, the athletic director at Blaine High School until he retired in the late 1980s.
Grabinske said his mom’s death has hit him hard. But the store is a place where he can link his passion for collecting with hers.
He isn’t a new entrepreneur – he’s had his own lawn care and snow removal business in Anoka for years.
He doesn’t play favorites when it comes to the collectibles for sale in the store. He’s equally enthusiastic about the handcuffs he has that once belonged to Earle Brown to the things he bought from Harmon Killebrew’s estate.
Grabinske says he knows “a little bit about a lot of different stuff.”
So he’s learning as he goes.
“I’m the kind of guy who takes people’s word – I like to believe their stories,” Grabinske said.
But that can be problematic when people are looking to make a buck off those yarns.
“I’m learning some lessons in business,” he said. “I’m learning to trust my gut.”
That gut instinct led him to buy a collection of Cinderella memorabilia, something for which he took some ribbing from his friends.
“They were sold in a week,” Grabinske said. “I want to sell the kinds of things people want to buy.”
But those bags of buttons he bought, it remains to be seen whether they’ll turn a profit. He’s willing to take a chance to find out.
A music box, old pop bottle, cool old clock, a steamer trunk. There’s something for everyone who has an appetite for history. Grabinske said he often sees how something on the shelf will spark a conversation or a trip down memory lane.
And negotiation is all part of the experience.
“I love to barter,” Grabinske said.
He wants to be an avenue for buying and selling in Anoka, both for local families’ memories and area memorabilia.
“There’s a lot of collectors in Anoka and a lot of really good stuff out there,” Grabinske said.
He loves being invited into someone’s home to take a look at memories stored away in basements or garages.
Doing business is more than just making a sale. He likes to see his collectibles go to the right home.
He has a book filled with 1,100 autographs, once owned by famed University of Minnesota Head Athletic Trainer Lloyd Stein. Some of those signatures are each worth more than $2,500.
When someone wanted to buy the book to split it up as a money maker, Grabinske refused.
“I just can’t let someone do that,” he said.
In a fog after his mom’s death, the idea to open his own store came together quickly – within two weeks. The empty storefront caught his eye after driving by a few times.
“I like taking chances,” Grabinske said. “I like to believe that everything is going to work out.”
Already he has some regulars who hang out often at the shop.
“Then there are the guys that are in once a week – they’re on the hunt,” he said.
Spending time at Kyle’s is an experience. The music is just as eclectic as the merchandise. One day it’s big band, the next Elvis gospel. Or maybe Avril Lavigne, courtesy of Grabinske’s 12-year-old daughter Olivia.
Grabinske said so far the business is holding its own, building steam as the months pass. He started the business with the help of former girlfriend Michelle Giddings and her son Spencer.
“This is giving me the freedom to do what I really want,” Grabinske said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to make a halfway decent living at it.”
Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]