The vestiges of Shinders, the late, great downtown bookstore, have been auctioned off box by box to the highest bidder over the past few months, with proceeds going to disgraced former owner Robert Weisberg, according to the owner of the liquidation firm.
The sales took several months for staff at Brothers Liquidation in north Minneapolis to conduct because of the sheer volume of material involved: three semitruck loads of back-stock from the shuttered bookstore chain that included 5 million football and baseball cards, figurines, 20,000 X-rated magazines, and boxes and boxes of comic books, said Craig Swenson, a former Brothers employee.
"When [Weisberg] brought it to us, he told me it was about $1 million per truckload of retail value," said Swenson.
The auctions brought in much less than millions, but a total figure was not available.
Weisberg, who could not be reached for this story, lost control of the company in 2007 during a period of personal and professional turmoil. In the months before Shinders closed for good, Wells Fargo took control of the company while negotiating payment for two loans valued at $1.7 million.
The liquidation of the Shinders material was "a typical liquidation," said Brothers Liquidation owner Ernie Leidiger, a GOP state representative from Mayer. Weisberg said he owned the material that was put up for sale, and the liquidation company auctioned it off at wholesale prices, said Leidiger. It was not a hugely lucrative deal, Leidiger said, in part because the value of sports trading cards has fallen along with other collectibles in the current economy.
Weisberg had been in touch with Brothers Liquidation as early as 2009 to discuss selling the back-stock, said Leidiger, but the two sides didn't come to a deal until late last year, he said. Weisberg then brought the three semitrailer loads of material to the Brothers Liquidation site at 2928 2nd St. N. either late last year or early this year, according to Leidiger and Swenson.
Weisberg is a grandson of one of the five brothers who founded the original Shinders. It was a 13-store chain throughout the metro area when Weisberg bought it from Joel Shinder, who had run it for about 30 years. Shinders lasted 91 years before it went dark in 2007 as Weisberg battled personal and professional difficulties. He had been arrested on a drug possession charge in 2006, and later that year Wells Fargo took over Shinders. A second bank, Bremer, was also owed money by Weisberg's law firm and took money from the firm's accounts to settle some of the debt. The bank also auctioned off two racy sports cars Weisberg had stored in a Shinders warehouse: a 1987 Chevy Corvette and a 1970 Dodge Challenger.
Weisberg was cited four times in 2007 and 2009 by the state Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, an agency that oversees lawyer discipline. The state Supreme Court in late 2009 suspended him from the practice of law for at least three years.
Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747