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Father-son duo Jeff, right, and Ryan Haugrud have enjoyed old cars since they were both young. (Brian Basham/Tribune)

Back to the '50s

Detroit Lakes,Minnesota 56501
Detroit Lakes Online
Back to the '50s
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Anyone who drives past Lake Park is sure to notice the Old Skool Malt Shop off to the north. Old cars sit outside, signs cover the building walls and inside is no exception.

"It's kind of a toy store -- toys for boys," owner Jeff Haugrud said.

Once located across the street as Peggy Lou's Restaurant, Haugrud sold the land to Casey's General Store gas station and moved his business. He also bought out a toy store and moved the inventory into his hobby store.

Open the door to the Old Skool Malt Shop and it's like stepping back to the '50s, with a checkered floor, old signs on the walls, and red vinyl booths and stools.

"This is the hobby part of it," he said. "I think it's cool. I have a serious '30s and '50s fascination."

And yes, Haugrud said he realizes "skool" is spelled differently by most people, but it's not wrong, he claims. "It's old skool!"

The outside of the building is covered in old road signs -- which he's been collecting for years -- and the inside is covered in new versions of classic signs. Haugrud said he's sold so many that he's had to reorder his second batch of signs already. Not everything is new though.

"We rely on people stopping and offering to sell (items) to us," he said of the many offers he's gotten from passersby.

The counter space in the auto repair shop is covered in old license plates -- shipped to him from people throughout the United States who happened to stop in and see his collection and wanted to contribute.

"I can't get rid of them -- I have to save them," he said.

Next door to the malt shop is the Old Skool Speed Shop and the Classic Plus Auto repair shop.

"We restore old cars and repair any cars," he said.

Being a classic car enthusiast, he said it's difficult to not get attached to the restored cars.

"I wish I had a billion dollars to buy them all."

Haugrud's son, Ryan, has been helping him with the business for the past four years. Besides selling cars -- Haugrud has had a dealer license for six years -- they also sell parts. A big help for that is eBay, where their cars and parts are listed. They have sold cars in Europe, Australia, Canada and throughout the United States.

"We just started with buying and selling cars and loving the product," he said. "We sell an unbelievable amount of parts and ship them around the country."

Tinkering with cars has been a passion of Haugard's since he was a kid, and his son's as well.

"It's no surprise we're doing this together."

The car side of the business has been a big success, which in return supports the hobby side.

"We found ourselves in the situation that we could have this building here," he said of the malt shop. "If you have a hobby, it's gotta be funded some how."

And it's not just for the general public either. For Thanksgiving, his family gathering took place in the malt shop.

While the toy shelves are lined with more male-style toys -- he's got plenty of NASCAR items available -- he said he and his wife are going to market this winter, and next summer the malt shop will have more items for the ladies. Now though, it's about decorating the "man-caves."

Haugrud said he has guys coming from Fargo to buy old signs and even old gas pumps to decorate their garages or dens.

Just opening this fall, Haugrud said he's sure next spring and summer will be a busy one thanks to Highway 10 traffic alone.

"The malt shop will go crazy wild," he said. "People come and eat food and talk cars."