13 bygone mall stores we want to shop at again
You could buy everything from sausages to sweaters to software at memorable mall shops like Hickory Farms and Service Merchandise.
The mall is an endangered species. Once a mecca of American commerce, a gathering place for teenagers, and a nice place for an indoor stroll, the mall no longer holds the same place in our daily lives as it did in the 1970s and 1980s. In the heyday of the indoor mall, one could by a ham and go ice skating. Store fronts were elaborated decorated to look like barns and castles. The mall was our Amazon.com.
While malls certainly still dot our landscape, some of the magic is missing with these stores no longer existing. Put on your walking shoes and lets go shopping in the past.
Top image: Flickr
1. Camelot Music
In our local mall, the Camelot had a stone facade that looked like the entrance to King Arthur's castle. Inside, the music shop had a great selection spanning every genre, not to mention a towering wall of cassettes. Starting in 1956, Camelot was in the end sucked up by and converted to f.y.e. in 1998.
2. Casual Corner
Reaching 525 stores at its peak, this women's wear shop died in 2005. We especially dig the older, more elaborate storefront with wood paneling and 90-degree logo.
3. Chess King
This young men's shop dates back to the 1960s. Its founder figured boys liked chess and racing, and came up with Chess King. In the 1980s, this became the depot for those fashion plates hoping to emulate Jon Cryer in Pretty in Pink. It died off in 1995.
Image: Lost Laurel
4. The Children's Place
The coolest thing about The Children's Place was the hole at the entrance, a little tunnel that kids could crawl though to enter the store. We remember it being lined with indoor-outdoor carpeting. There was also stuff to climb all over inside. There are still Children's Place stores, but none like this that we know of.
5. Contempo Casuals
What Chess King was for boys, Contempo was for girls. Also started in the 1960s, CC boomed in the 1980s, when it became the place of choice for big, colorful clothing to match big, colorful hair. Paul Rudd made reference to it in Clueless, too. In 2001, the remaining stores were converted into Wet Seals, which had purchased the brand some years earlier.
6. County Seat
From 1973 to 1999, the County Seat was the hip place to pick up a pair of jeans. While denim was the primary good, one could also pick up some chunky sweaters with a southwestern theme to complete the suburban cowboy look.
Image: Freeing John Sinclair
With a goofy name like Gadzooks, one might expect the outlet to ply novelty items and toys like Spencer's Gifts. In fact, it started as a T-shirt shop. Each store featured a chopped up section of a Volkswagen Beetle for decor. Gadzooks went kerplunk in 2005, when it was purchased by Forever 21 and phased out.
Image: Chicago's Extinct Businesses
8. Hickory Farms
Now this brings back memories. Mostly smells. The big red barns sold encased meats and fat chunks of cheese. It was particularly of note for the broke kid wandering the mall, as they often had free samples of summer sausage and whatnot. The brand still exists, but you certainly no longer stroll past farm structures in the mall.
Image: Hickory Farms
9. Kinney Shoes
The footwear giant had just passed the century mark when it kicked the bucket in 1998. As much as we would have liked to run around in Nikes, Air Jordans and the like, we settled for a pair of Stadia from Kinney. In hindsight, we're pretty happy about that. Mostly because they were Velcro and we hated having to tie our shoes.
Yikes, that's how we looked in the early '90s? Another must-stop shop for young fashionistas (or fashion victims), MGR never made it past 1996, like some of these looks. It shifted with the times, going from bell bottoms in the '70s to parachute pants in the '80s to oversized jeans in the '90s.
Image: Jane Bouchard
11. Miller's Outpost
The California-based jeans shop was the king of all things acid wash and Jordache. It morphed into Anchor Blue and went belly up in 2011.
12. Service Merchandise
Service Merchandise was a catalog you could walk inside. For those of us who grew up dreamily flipping through Wish Books, it was a heaven filled with video games, calculator watches, cordless phones and diamonds. The catalog showroom lived from 1934 to 2004. Who else remembers going into shops were you couldn't just take things off the shelf?
Image: Fairfax Underground
13. Software, Etc.
A temple for computer geeks and gamers, Software Etc. went the way of the floppy disc when it merged with Babbage's and eventually GameStop.