Bonds with athletes become gold for memorabilia dealer

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 13, 2014 - 8:55 AM

Shaun Hagglund’s world is a sports fan’s dream in which he is both dream maker and old-fashioned sports hustler.

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Wild goaltender Josh Harding, left, partnered with broker Shaun Hagglund of Fan HQ for an autograph session earlier this month at Ridgedale.

Photo: JERRY HOLT • jerry.holt@startribune.com,

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Ricky Rubio’s sports management company was e-mailing from Los Angeles.

The Timberwolves guard would agree to a minimum of 300 autographs and posed pictures, giving him $6,000 guaranteed. Rubio would get $20 per autograph, plus $12.50 for a personal message on a basketball.

And just like that the deal was done and Shaun Hagglund had another pro athlete in the fold — and another moneymaker. Rubio made out well, too, signing autographs at Hagglund’s store in Minnetonka. Afterward, his sports marketing representative said Rubio made more than $10,000 for a little more than an hour’s worth of signing.

Hagglund’s world is a sports fan’s dream in which he is both dream maker and old-fashioned sports hustler. To his biggest fans Hagglund has taken the world of sports collectibles, which has seen more downs than ups, to new and unique levels.

Want to watch “Monday Night Football” with the Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph? Hagglund has made it happen. How about an exclusive party with the Twins’ Darin Mastroianni as the celebrity bartender? Been there, done that. Up for a game of touch football with Vikings graybeard quarterback Tommy Kramer? You already missed it.

It all started from humble beginnings. Hagglund was 8 years old when his dad took him to Vikings training camp, and he posed for a photo with Kramer. Hagglund was a corporate buyer of entertainment action figures for the old Musicland and Suncoast stores. He met the Twins’ Justin Morneau, who introduced him to then-Twins Joe Nathan, Jesse Crain and Michael Cuddyer. He soon was doing their fan websites.

He opened a store in late 2009 at Ridgedale Center — and immediately cashed in on the “insanity” over Brett Favre’s signing to play with the Vikings.

“Sales really took off right away,” Hagglund said of his business.

Mike Hauglie, an assistant grocery store manager in Elk River, paid almost $400 to watch football with Rudolph. He also paid to play darts with the Vikings’ Harrison Smith — another event put on by Hagglund, a mop-topped 44-year-old.

“The darts one was pretty cool,” Hauglie said.

Hagglund again will take things a step further again in March, bringing together legendary Vikings coach Bud Grant with Grant Hart of punk band Hüsker Dü in a “Rock ‘N Jock” event in New Hope. Last year, more than 500 people attended and watched the movie “Miracle” — and sat with players from the gold medal-winning 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team whom the movie was about.

‘Understands the crowd’

At last month’s TwinsFest, the annual mid-winter Twins baseball festival, Hagglund stood in the hallway and seemed to know everyone.

“Hey, how you doing?” asked Twins infielder Brian Dozier, who paused to shake hands with Hagglund. Former Twin Corey Koskie walked by, tapped Hagglund on the shoulder and smiled. Hagglund brought a gift for Trevor Plouffe — a framed Led Zeppelin vinyl record.

“I rarely talk to them about [their] sports,” Hagglund said of his relationships with players. “It’s all trust. These guys get hit from so many different sides.”

Some fans at TwinsFest stopped by to compliment Hagglund on his latest idea: Buying a truckload of old Metrodome seat backs and then selling them to fans for $25 to use to get autographs. Seat backs bearing the No. 14 — worn by former Twin Kent Hrbek — cost a bit extra, of course.

“Shaun understands the crowd,” said Tommy Dehler, a longtime friend and occasional business partner.

Morneau, now with the Colorado Rockies, swears by Hagglund, who in November helped Morneau with his charity winter coat drive.

  • related content

  • Shaun Hagglund, owner of Fan HQ, photographed fans of Wild goalie Josh Harding as they lined up near the Fan HQ store in Ridgedale Mall for his autograph recently.

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