How long did you work at Apache Plaza?
I worked at Apache for about 3 and 1/2
years after opening day plus about 3 months setting up our store.
2. Tell us a little about Farnham's.
Farnham's was a
very large stationery, office and school supply company. They provided
most of the office supplies to companies like 3M, General Mills, Control
Data, Pillsbury, Medtronic to name a few and were the largest supplier
to most school districts in a five state area. They also had nine retail
stores in the state which served smaller companys and school students.
They were in business since 1889 and went out of business in 1971, four
years after I left the company. Most people think their
demise, (bankruptcy) was caused by an IBM
computer system that didn't work; they were the first company of their
type in the country to go online with inventory. Their business also
included office furniture.
3. What was your history with Farnham's prior to the store's
Farnham's, starting in the Minneapolis store, the only one at the time,
for 10 years overall, opening a downtown St. Paul store, the Apache
store and the last 2 years as a buyer and store coordinator for all
4. Could you tell us about the 10/19/61 Grand Opening of the mall?
grand opening was the most exciting thing to happen in all of the north
metro area in many years. It was responded to by long lines of people
awaiting their first glimpse inside the mall. It was said to be the
biggest grand opening in the country of a new mall, a claim,
believable but never validated to my knowledge. The ceremony was
hugely attended and included local media stars and dignitaries.
Speeches were made by the governor and Raymond Plank, CEO of Apache
and others. There were cars lined up for miles along Stinson and Silver
5. I understand that you lived in the area prior to the opening
Apache Plaza. What impact, if any, do you think the mall
had on the
35th and Benjamin through high school, and college and after that in
Fridley(grand opening time) , Columbia Heights and St. Anthony until
The impact on the whole area, including N.E. Minneapolis was huge.
major events took place at or around Apache. It was the place to go and
see friendly and familiar faces.
6. What personal standout memories do you have of the mall?
the mall was the center court fountain that didn't work for about the
first two years. Also the many fashion shows held there and a robbery
at National Tea grocery stores. There was also a flood in the lower
level one time that closed the bowling alley and other stores for
awhile. I remember the clamor at Jolly's Toy Store at Christmas time
when people almost fought with fists over Chatty Kathy dolls and other
hot toy items.
7. How would you describe Apache Plaza, circa 1962, to those of
weren't around to see it then?
semi-upscale, but without the trendiness of other places. A great place
to shop with a hometown atmosphere. Being at Apache was not unlike
small town downtowns used to be every Friday night. You felt safe,
secure and comfortable there.
8. What do you see as the mall's greatest strengths/weaknesses in
as mentioned in the previous question, as well as good stores, mostly
parking and easy shopping with friendly clerks, many of which were your
neighbors. Weaknesses were a lack of restaurants, a major, major
department store and a poorly run Montgomery Wards store.
9. Could you share your views on the decline of
the mall? What factors do you believe led to its current
started with the opening of Brookdale and then Rosedale with their
larger store makeup. Since those days it has been a slow but definite
decline. It was, after that, a "neighborhood", rather than a "regional"
shopping center. People did their convenience shopping there but their
major shopping at the "Dales".
10. Do you have any contact today with people who worked or
at the mall when you worked there?
I still have
relatives that do some shopping at Apache and one in particular who is
devastated by word of its closing. Mostly though, I have little
contact with any of the people I knew there; only fond memories.
Many thanks to Mr. Johnson for making the time to do this interview!