20 things that have disappeared as malls across America have died

Malls once played a pivotal role in how we shopped and socialized. Many malls that would once be crowded on any given afternoon are now struggling to fill vacancies, with some being converted into residential or business centers.

As a result, malls have lost many of the distinctive stores and features we used to associate with them.

Here are some of the stores, features, and behaviors you no longer see in malls.

Things that disappeared when malls started dying
See Gallery
Things that disappeared when malls started dying


When malls were a weekend destination for families, many of the shopping centers would have playgrounds so that kids wouldn't become restless after watching their parents run errands.

Sharper Image

The electronics retailer used to have a large physical retail footprint before it declared bankruptcy in 2008. It now sells its merchandise through its website, catalog, and third-party retail partners.

Promotional appearances from pop stars

Back when people bought CDs, pop stars like Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne would promote their new albums by touring malls, which would often be overwhelmed by young fans.

True Religion

As its signature jeans have become less fashionable, True Religion has struggled to retain market share. The company filed for bankruptcy in July and announced plans to close at least 27 stores.

Movie sets in malls

Back when youth culture revolved around shopping and hanging out with friends in malls, movies targeted toward teens — like "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "Mean Girls" — would often feature their characters spending time in malls.


Bookstores like Borders and Waldenbooks used to be fixtures at shopping malls, but like many independent and chain bookstores, each has gone bankrupt.


No trip to the mall as a kid was complete without throwing a penny into the fountain, but fountains are no longer as common as malls try to cut costs.


The discount shoe chain struggled to adapt to a changing retail climate and filed for bankruptcy in April. It closed about 900 stores, bringing its store count to 3,500.

Window shopping

Consumers used to indulge their fantasies of owning expensive clothing and electronics by looking at store displays, but social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat now serve the same general function.

Virgin Megastore

CD sales have plummeted over the last decade, resulting in many big-box record stores closing. While it used to be a major player in the CD market, Virgin no longer operates its flagship stores in the United States.


The rise of home video game consoles made most arcades obsolete.

First jobs

Back at the height of shopping malls' popularity, they were popular destinations for teenagers looking for their first jobs.

Sports Authority

The sports apparel retailer filed for bankruptcy in 2016 and later closed all of its stores.

Sports memorabilia

Stores that sold autographed apparel and equipment from sports stars used to have a significant presence in shopping malls.

Spending all of your allowance 

While many adolescents and teens used to head straight to the mall after receiving their allowance, e-commerce has made shopping malls a novelty rather than a staple.


Electronics stores like RadioShack have struggled to compete with online retailers in recent years. After filing for bankruptcy in March, RadioShack has closed more than 1,000 stores this year.

People smoking cigarettes

While smoking used to be allowed in public spaces, anti-smoking laws have made it less common over the past few decades.

FAO Schwarz

The toy company once known for its massive stores is now shifting to displays inside other retailers, like Macy's.

Zany Brainy

While it filed for bankruptcy in 2001, the educational toy retailer's founder, David Schlessinger, now runs the discount company Five Below.


After filing for bankruptcy in June, the children's clothing company closed over 25% of its stores.


SEE ALSO: These photos of abandoned malls and golf courses reveal a new era for the American suburb

Read Full Story
  • DJI27337.635.600.02%
  • NIKKEI 22521685.9042.400.20%
    Hang Seng28554.8883.260.29%
  • USD (PER EUR)1.13-0.0018-0.16%
    USD (PER CHF)1.02-0.0006-0.06%
    JPY (PER USD)107.91-0.0200-0.02%
    GBP (PER USD)1.25-0.0053-0.42%