It's time to fill the Roller Garden-sized hole in your heart, Minnesota.
The storied St. Louis Park roller rink made it through decades of whirling skate wheels, suburban sprawl and the death of disco, but the pandemic closed its doors for good in May.
Now, Roller Garden is being auctioned off, skate by skate, and bids are rolling in from fans eager to take home a piece of the past.
Almost 1,500 objects under the Roller Garden roof are up for auction between now and June 16 at 6 p.m. The claw machine. The disco ball. The nacho cheese warmer. Mountains of skates: roller blades, vintage roller skates with wooden wheels, the old clamp-on metal skates you tightened with a key. Any of them could be yours if you place the winning bid.
"It's a beloved place in the community that people are sad to see go. But it's an opportunity for people to own a piece of history that's been important to them," said Sarah Ness, whose family auction house, Auction Masters and Appraisers of Osseo, has found new homes for many other pieces of the Twin Cities' past.
When Nye's Polonaise Room went out of business, they were the ones who auctioned off everything from the piano bar to the bar stools to the light fixtures. They were there when Porky's drive-through closed in St. Paul. They were there before the wrecking ball hit the Thunderbird Ramada in Bloomington, just in case people wanted to leave with more than just fond memories.
Roller Garden was there for generations of families, and four generations of Bill Sahly's family ran it for five decades. In a fond online farewell, he remembered the smiling faces whirling around the rink, the birthday celebrations, the school and church and scouting outings, even the wedding under the Roller Garden disco ball.
"It will be extremely difficult to say goodbye," Sahly wrote. "We hope that we have been able to provide memories that will last a lifetime, as you have done for us."
Roller Garden left a lot of people with a lot of happy memories. The memories remain. So do all those roller skates.
Just watching the Roller Garden auction reminded Ness that a pair of skates would make a great gift for her almost-5-year-old son. She's not the only one. The auction house saw 60 newcomers enroll to bid in the first 12 hours the Roller Garden goods went online.
There are multiple bids in for the arcade games as people measure out space in the basement for skee ball — or that vintage love tester that could finally settle the question of whether you're wild or mild, hot stuff or clammy.
Don't let the fact that there are only 11 bids on the love tester lull you into a false sense of security. Auction pros know the serious bids kick in Wednesday, right before the auction closes.
"It may look, early on in the auction, as if everything's going to go really cheap, but the action happens at the end," Ness said. "The last minutes of the auction [are] when you need to pay attention if you really want an item. Because that's when prices jump and people start competing."
If you'd like to take a spin through the auction offerings, visit auctionmasters.com.
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