Situated along Interstate 35 at exit 45 (see map), 3 Corners Liquor is literally in the middle of a number of businesses including a large Cabela's store, a Famous Dave's barbecue place, a couple of hotels, other restaurants, a couple truck stops and a Russell Stover outlet store. It's also just down the road from the large Medford Outlet Mall, located just three miles north at Exit 48.
During trips to and from the Twin Cities, I found myself stopping in at Cabela's to look around at things. One time, I decided to stop into 3 Corners Liquor just to see what they had to offer. I was surprised to find a number of shelves of single beers where you could mix and match six-packs. And there was a lot to choose from, well over 100 different types and brands of beer including some Upper Midwest brews that we didn't get in Iowa, to some eclectic import beers that looked sort of out of place in a liquor store in South Central Minnesota. I always found something to take with me whenever I would stop in. The selection they had was very impressive.
One day coming back from the Twin Cities, I stopped into 3 Corners Liquor to do a little "beer hunting". As I walked in, blaring from the stereo system in the store was a blistering blues number by Tommy Castro from his "Live at the Fillmore" album. I said to the guy behind the counter, "Is this Tommy Castro?"
His face immediately lit up and he said, "It sure is! You have this album?"
I said, "Yeah, I do. In fact, one of Tommy Castro's band guys gave me a copy."
To make a long story short, the guy behind the counter, Mark, was sort of an impresario in the Owatonna/Austin/Rochester area when it came to producing blues shows and booking bands. I began telling him about my work with the annual Rib Fest (now River Roots Live) in Davenport, along with some work I'd done for the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. It turned out that he knew a number of people I knew from working the gigs over the years. Suddenly, we were like two long lost brothers.
It turned out that Mark was the manager of 3 Corners Liquor and he was the one responsible for the vast selection of beers they had to offer. The guy really knew his shit about beer. He turned me on to a number of good brews on subsequent visits to 3 Corners Liquor. He remembered who I was and he would usually greet me with, "Hey, man! I've got something you've got to try!" More than once he would open a bottle in the store and offer a taste. I was in love with the place.
However, about two years ago I stopped into 3 Corners Liquor and the selection of eclectic beers and even the amount of liquor and wine on their shelves was about 1/3 of what they normally had. A lot of the good beer that Mark had turned me onto was no longer found on their shelves. I asked the guy on duty if Mark was around and he said, "Mark no longer works here."
I said, "You're shitting me! When did that all happen?"
He said, "Oh, he hasn't been here in, maybe, four months."
I was sort of devastated. The guy was pretty reluctant to talk about Mark or where he was. The only thing he said was, "Mark has some issues that he has to take care of."
So, while the large selection of great beers is no longer available at 3 Corners Liquor, they still have a nice selection of beers if you need a twelve-pack after buying a gun at Cabela's and you're going out hunting. At one point, 3 Corners Liquor was one of the best places to buy some interesting beers. Today, it's just another liquor store with an adequate selection of beers. On their web site, they say they have a bunch of different types of tequila, rum and vodka, but no mention of any vast array of beers to choose from. I stopped in last summer just to see what was going on and if they had the 600 different wines, over 100 different tequilas and over 50 different types of rum they advertise having, they had them well hidden.
Come back, Mark! Please!
(Update February 2012 - I've been back to 3 Corners a handful of times on trips to and from the Twin Cities. My last visit there, it looked like the place was on the verge of going out of business. They didn't have half the beer selection they've had in the past. The liquor shelves were about half full and there didn't seem to be much of a wine selection any longer. I honestly don't know what's happened to 3 Corners, but it's not the same place as it was.)