Local Business Profile: Potato Salad Junction

By Clara Glendale | Features!

railroad xingIf you expect to find potato salad at Potato Salad Junction, your plans may derail.

“People come in here, asking about salad,” said owner Cile Andersan. “I just laugh and say, ‘Well, you’re on the wrong track.’”

His pun is rarely appreciated until patrons take a look around the shop, located just off the Uptown strip. Then they realize Potato Salad Junction is no place to purchase boiled-tuber delights. Instead of an inventory chock-full of picnic side dishes, they see couplers and cabooses.

That’s because Potato Salad Junction is a model-railroading hub.

So why the peculiar name? Potato Salad Junction was inspired by a childhood toy-train project Andersan shared with his father, Gned.

“We had just eaten lunch, which included potato salad,” Andersan said, chuckling uproariously. “I told my dad it was my favorite part of the meal, can we name one of the junctions after that? Dad, he laughed, but he went along with it. That’s how the story was re-told to me, anyway. I was pretty young at the time.”

He revisited the concept with the business venture, setting up a model train configuration that includes an imaginary stop-over where fake mini-passengers disembark briefly to shop at a pre-convenience store-era convenience store named — appropriately — Potato Salad Junction.

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Did Andersan realize such a business name might be misleading, going in? we asked.

“Me? Yeah, I did,” Andersan admitted. “I hesitated at first, then thought, why not? Somebody comes in wanting a snack, they depart with something of value that will help them bond with their children — even their daughters.”

Has word spread that the store may, in fact, misrepresent its products? Almost the opposite, Andersan noted.

“I’ve heard a lot of people tell me they appreciate being tricked because, unlike potato salad, trains don’t have to be refrigerated,” Andersan said, “refrigerator cars being the exception.”

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