Let's Go To The Mall, Everybody!

I hate going to the mall. I love to shop and I grew up in the '80s and '90s, which was basically the golden age of shopping malls, but I really don't like malls. I hardly go anymore, thanks to online shopping, but if I do, it has to be a random weekday morning so I can avoid the crazy parking lots, the crowds, the youths, and running into people I know. I'm such a grumpy old lady. 

My small suburban town was a little behind the times and didn't open it's first mall until 1985. Before that we had to drive forty minutes away to a mall that had opened in the mid-60s, but I don't think we went often. We just bought our clothes at a free standing JCPenney, which is where my mom worked, selling insurance. So random. 

Our brand new mall, in all it's baby blue glory, was amazing. My mom dragged us to the anchor stores (Lamonts, Sears, Mervyn's, JC Penney, and The Bon Marche) so she could shop for herself or buy our school clothes.

I probably got my PE shoes (L.A. Gear, of course) at Kinney Shoes. 

If we were well-behaved, she'd let us peruse J.K. Gill (for office supplies), Hallmark (for Sanrio trinkets),
and Natural Wonders (for I don't know what; we just thought it was cool in there).

As a teen, my back to school wardrobe consisted of clothes and shoes (Dr. Martens and Vans)
strictly from Above the Belt (which turned into Zumiez) and Gap.

I picked up accessories from Afterthoughts and Claire's and had to have every body spray ever
created from Bath and Body Works, though my signature scent was Cucumber Melon.

Before we were old enough to drive, my friends and I would meet up at the mall for the entire day.
Like, open to close. We'd wander from store to store, but spent most of our time at
Suncoast, Spencer's, Hot Topic, and Waldenbooks.

When we got thirsty, we'd grab an Orange Julius. We'd eat dinner at Sbarro then pick up candy
at Sweet Factory. We'd end our day at Wherehouse Music and the movie theater across the street. 

A few years ago our little old mall was sold and remodeled. They removed the food court and a ton of stores and put in new restaurants. Sears is the only original anchor store, but it's a complete ghost town so who knows how much longer it will last.

Only 1,200 malls are still open in America and the last one built was in 2006. Dead malls are being re-purposed into churches, community centers, office space, bowling alleys, and storage facilities. If they are too old and damaged they just sit, waiting to be demolished. What a sad sight.  

Do you remember any of these stores?
What are some of your mall memories?


Mattie @ Northwest Native said...

Yes, I remember Waldenbooks and the Bon Marche! The mall near my hometown had a Bon and I remember when Macy's took it over I was adamant I'd never start calling it Macy's...but I eventually caved haha. That mall is definitely a ghost town. Sooo many stores and food court stalls have closed. Every time you go there, even if you went on like Christmas Eve or something it's so dead. Macy's and JCPenney are probably the only stores that get much business, and they're on each end. There's even a little library in there because no stores can survive.

Karen Peterson said...

Oh my gosh! I remember so many of those stores. Crazy!

The mall by Chris's house is basically dead. There is rarely a reason to go there, other than the movie theater, but otherwise...yeah, we don't get over there very often. It's kind of sad, but I guess it's just a sign of the times.

Misty, Handbags + Handguns said...

I love this post!

Where did you get the pics? I seriously think the third one down is an abandoned mall here. And boy do I have stories from that mall and that parking lot. Ha!

Kelly @ turned UP to ELEVEN! said...

The abandon malls remind me of Zombie movies of the past... creepy.

I worked at the mall from age 15 until I graduated college... from Afterthoughts, to Express, to Lerner NY (Now NY and Co), to Bath and Body Works. I loved and hated it at the same time. I actually worked in 4 different Bath and Body Works over my "mall career". Two in Maryland and Two in Florida.

My mom and I used to go to the mall rather often - I liked going shopping. I was never one to hang at the mall, probably because I worked there. I can recall driving pretty far to go to the nicer mall that was about 40 minutes from our house and always being told to dress nicely... (Rich folk shopped there).

Our local mall was still about 25 mins from the house so it was still a bit of a chore to go there (that is the one I worked at). However we never felt the need to get overly dressed up to be there to shop.

Our local mall here in Florence, AL just went through a huge remodel, however if they don't do something quick to get some better stores I see it going down hill quickly. It's only saving grace is that it's the only mall within an hour or more ride. Huntsville, AL has tons of great stores and two malls but it's still a haul. We have traffic here locally from Tennessee (state line is very close) so between our Target, Walmart, Sams and the Mall - most people will travel to use the mall which is good... I'd hate to have it left vacant like the one over the river in Muscle Shoals.

Thanks to online shopping and stores like Target and I'd say even Ross and TJ Maxx - malls are sort of becoming a thing of the past.

I have to say my favorite stores growing up were similar to yours.. but I was obsessed with Express - where else were you going to get Forenza, Outback Red and ESPIRIT clothing? And Sam Goody was my jam for music!

Laura Darling said...

Those empty mall pics are so sad! I actually love the mall. I don't know why! I live about 40 minutes from the second biggest mall in the country, so it's always fun to go there. There's also a mall a mile from my house and I grew up going there and still go probably once a week! Sometimes just to wander! Bath and Body Works was always a favorite place to visit. I loved the Cucumber Melon body spray too, and Warm Vanilla Sugar. When I smell them now I can't believe I wore and loved them for years, but I did!

Jana @ Jana Says said...

Reading this post gave me all the memories. I can actually smell, see, and hear the mall I spent many hours in as a teenager after reading this.

The Wall, Waldenbook, Sbarro, and this weird department store in the middle of the mall that had a fire (I think it was only a Long Island thing) were my staples.

I read somewhere that some towns are using abandoned malls as potential housing for the homeless. Which I think is a wonderful idea.

Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders said...

We used to go to the mall all the time growing up, but I'm like you and would much rather just shop online because it's so much easier! I had so much fun going to the mall with my girlfriends though! I always loved the food court because I could nachos from Taco Bell, a smoothie for a drink, fries if I wanted, and then a cookie for dessert! I wish I still had that metabolism lol!

Kristen @ See You In A Porridge said...

oh wow, i had no idea that the last one was built in 2006 and there are so many deserted. that's so sad. i obviously grew up with different stores, but we went to the mall (er, we call it a 'shopping centre' or the brand like westfield, westpoint, stockland, eastland off the top of my head) a lot when i was growing up. i'm with you, now i can only go during the day or early in the weekend in the hopes that it isn't too crazy. i just hate being around that many people lol. plus i am more likely to spend money in a real store, so i try and avoid them.