Bring back some good or bad memories


May 18, 2016

Chess King, Contempo Casuals and Merry-Go-Round, Here are 13 Classic Mall Stores We Want to Shop at Again

Back in the day, every mall seemed to have at least a few of the same stores in it. They may have been stores you never actually saw anyone buying anything in, or they may have been wildly popular, but nowadays they have either disappeared from the mall landscape or have become increasingly hard to find.

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.

01. 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.

02. 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.

03. 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.

04. 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.

05. 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.

06. 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.

07. Gadzooks

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.

08. 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.

09. 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.

10. Merry-Go-Round

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.

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?

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.

(via MeTV Network)


  1. Talk about a stroll down memory lane..I managed a Service merchandise at one point..good times

  2. 1976 County Seat @ Knollwood Plaza St. Louis Park, MN image by Emory Anderson

  3. I miss the Original Banana Republic stores. It sold clothes you wear if you were going hiking at the Grand Canyon.




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