Remember the olden days, before internet shopping was a thing and you had to buy your JNCO jeans and Steve Madden sandals at the mall? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the most '90s of times.
Tragically, many of the era's best stores are out of business now (bring back Blockbuster!), so we're rounding them up in one list in the name of nostalgia. And yes, fine, some of these have very (very) few stores still standing—but certainly not enough.
Before clicking through, please be forewarned: Reading this list might inspire you to rifle through depths of your closet you never knew existed, unearth that grommet belt you bought from Hot Topic (which is mercifully still around), change into an ill-fitting sweater set from The Limited (a cardigan with a matching tank top, for the blissfully uninitiated), and grab a pair of Adidas Superstars with a doodled-upon shell top. Sorry in advance, yet also, you're very welcome.
The fact that we lived through a time when you had to go to a physical store in order to watch a movie shakes me to my very core.
Actually, Speaking of Blockbuster...
There is actually one remaining store on planet Earth. It's in Bend, Oregon, but it's basically a tourist attraction at this point.
A.k.a. the place where you bought your very expensive soccer cleats that you wore approximately three times before dramatically quitting the team. Also, head to the next slide for a truly tragic image.
Wicks 'N' Sticks
Honestly, I just feel lucky to have lived through an era where a candle store named Wicks 'N' Sticks was an actual thing and not the setting of an SNL skit.
The Art of Shaving
Apparently, there are still a few of these ol' chestnuts left, but for the most part, people appear to have moved on from...getting shaved in a mall.
RadioShack used to be in every neighborhood in America and it was the place to get those clear plastic landline phones. Then it filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and things (read: the few remaining stores) have never been the same.
Even More RadioShack
I mean...have you ever seen an image more haunting?
Sam Goody was insanely successful...until it wasn't. But during the store's heyday, it was responsible for a whopping 7 percent of all U.S. record sales.
Have a vague memory of being dragged here by my mother, but pretty sure I've managed to repress it.
Steve & Barry's
Where else were we supposed to get babydoll tees and attend B-list celebrity meet and greets?
Wet Seal clientele included kids in middle America (hi) who wanted to dress like they were from a '90s teen TV show set in Southern California.
This store closing was a huge blow to nerdy little brothers everywhere.
Not to be confused with Eileen Fisher, where your mom bought her linen pants.
Otherwise known as the place where you'd jump on mattresses while staff glared at you. (FYI, Sleepy's was acquired by Mattress Firm in 2015.)
Discovery Channel Store
This girl's face = how I feel about Discovery Channel Store closing.
Where one went to buy internet and laptop.
The Warner Bros. Studio Store
Shot and chaser: the Disney Store and the Warner Bros. Studio Store.
If the name isn't clear enough, this is where Cool Kids™ shopped when Hot Topic was too crowded.
Aww, B. Dalton was so fun to browse around in! But with the rise of internet shopping, mall bookstores just didn't stand a chance. Which brings us to...
...another absolute favorite of our collective mall-trolling childhoods that simply couldn't survive Amazon. We'll miss you, bud. Speaking of...
Hands up if you and your friends just, like, hung around at Borders doing nothing when you were teenagers? Same. Sadly, now your hangout spot is gone forever because of bankruptcy—probably thanks to a company I won't bother @ing again.
And More Borders
Behold: the bleakest, most cursed photo you've ever seen.
Again, I honestly barely remember this store, but nevertheless, it persisted. Until, of course, it didn’t.
Otherwise known as the place your dad would drag you to after school to buy extension cords when you just wanted to go home and watch Hey Arnold! and eat Lunchables, ugh.
Toys "R" Us
I guess toys weren't us, because this beloved childhood store declared bankruptcy in 2018. But! Please continue for an important update.
Toys "R" Us: The Return
Like a phoenix rising from the '90s mall ashes, Toys "R" Us reopened a bunch of stores inside Macy's. Good for them!
What was a trip to the mall without forcing your mother into KB Toys and manipulating her into buying something (preferably Pogs) for you? A failure, that's what.
Linens 'n Things
One of the great joys of life was going to Linens 'n Things so that your parents could buy linens, and then begging them to buy you an expensive trapper keeper while you were there (which I guess is what they meant by "n-things").
Psst: While the stores are closed, Linens 'n Things appears to still have an online presence.
As anyone who grew up in the '90s knows, it was a huge deal to graduate from Limited Too to The Limited. I mean, it basically was a rite of passage in your journey to becoming an adult (by which I mean...entering eighth grade).
Hello, and welcome to another one of the most depressing photos you've ever seen. It's not exactly a shock that Mervyn's—once a mall staple—closed down. I mean, it looks like a place one goes to weep quietly. But still—shopping there with your grandma was pretty chill!
Say it with me now: L-O-L. Poor Miller's Outpost was big in the '70s and '80s, but it just could never be as cool as The Limited in the '90s, no matter how hard it tried.
Okay, technically 5-7-9 is still around. But not in the way it was when we were kids, when you couldn't even enter a mall without being drawn to the siren call of its funky (by which I mean, absolutely unacceptable) font.
Fact: The best part about a trip to the mall was heading to Sharper Image with your friends and trying out every single one of the massage chairs.
I truly could not tell you what this store sold, but you know what? It existed.
Remember when people bought CDs? Yeah, no, me neither.
But in all honesty, Tower Records was a cool place with a lot of history, so you'll be happy to know it has kinda staged a comeback on a smaller scale.
Another iconic spot that simply couldn't operate at the same level it did in the good ol' days once streaming became a thing.
This was basically the original Five and Dime—meaning everything there was dirt cheap, making it a great place to spend your allowance.
Where all your "alternative" friends who listened to Nirvana shopped. You (I) were too scared to go in there.
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