MOORHEAD — A new store in the Moorhead Center Mall will appeal to LEGO collectors as well as parents who would like to recoup some money for LEGOs their kids no longer play with.

Prairie Bricks, a third-party LEGO store, will open to the public at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 10. Owner Zachary Nienas explains that "third-party" means the LEGOs he sells have had a previous owner, although some kits have never been opened. He carefully inventories and repackages any kits that have, and personally guarantees all the pieces are included.

Nienas got his start operating a pop-up store at the mall over the 2020 holiday shopping season.

"It did a whole lot better than I expected," Nienas said. "What was so awesome was that only 5% of the customers were Christmas shoppers. Over 90% were fans who wanted a LEGO store."

Something for everyone

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Nienas says what sets him apart from Walmart and Target is that they can only sell modern LEGO sets.

"I have LEGO set No. 001 here from the 1960s and I have all these other LEGO sets from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. All these sets are retired, so Walmart and Target can't sell them," he said.

Aside from stores like Prairie Bricks, retired sets are only available through eBay or Bricklink, a site Nienas describes as "eBay for LEGOs." Nienas started buying and selling LEGOs via Bricklink in 2014 and has since built up a $30,000 inventory.

He tends to his personal collection before stocking the store.

"I have over 550 LEGO Star Wars sets at my place all displayed. I have to have it in my collection before I sell another," Nienas said.

Prairie Bricks sells a wide variety of LEGO kits, miniatures, loose LEGOs, and more.

For the serious collector, whom Nienas describes as someone in their late 20s with a disposable income, he has rare finds such as the only Viking ship ever released by LEGO for $190.

Captain Rex, a miniature from a $30 LEGO set released in 2013, is now worth a minimum of $100. Angie Wieck / The Forum
Captain Rex, a miniature from a $30 LEGO set released in 2013, is now worth a minimum of $100. Angie Wieck / The Forum

Grandparents, he says, prefer to buy the big LEGO sets. Nienas pulls in parents with things like bags full of assorted LEGO parts priced between $7 and $10 or build-your-own miniatures for $3.

"One thing I learned from a toy salesman at the Antique Mall is there is something magical about $20," he says. "If it's over $20, parents will say 'No, it's too much.' But if it's under $20, they'll say 'It's only $20. No big deal.'"

But it's not just about the sale for Nienas. He's just as concerned about building his inventory, so he will often buy buckets or containers of LEGOs from customers.

"It's usually a collection of sets they don't see," he said. "For example, a lady recently came in with a small tub of parts. I knew the stuff was pretty valuable and offered her $75. She was really happy. She didn't think she'd get anything. But after going through it, I found she had LEGO robot sets from the early 90s that go for $60."

Nienas says the store hours have yet to be finalized, but he expects to be open around the hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. He advises customers follow the Prairie Bricks Facebook page for the latest information.