But at its peak, Toys R Us was a wonderland for kids in the '90s — a toy heaven, so to speak. The toy chain's ultimate downward spiral left many kids who grew up in the '90s filled with nostalgia. The chain is opening new stores in 2019.
Before the age of Netflix and Hulu, there was Blockbuster, the movie rental store that practically defined the '90s zeitgeist.
Blockbuster was founded in 1985 and thrived throughout the '90s. In one of the more tragic company death spirals, the store ultimately petered into irrelevance and filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
Before fast-fashion brands like Forever 21 and H&M became big, Wet Seal was a go-to destination for low-rise jeans and tube tops.
In 2015, the retailer said it would close 338 stores, partly a result of declining mall traffic. The final death knell came in 2017 when the retailer announced it was closing all of its stores.
The electronics chain was founded in 1949 and soared during the '90s but filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Many of the empty store locations were actually converted into restaurants, though the retailer does still have an online presence.
Circuit City has a special place in the hearts of many '90s kids. One industry executive even announced in 2018 he would launch a comeback of the electronics store.
Hot Topic was a must-visit for any trendy '90s kid spending a Sunday at the mall. The first store opened in 1989 and featured punk-themed merchandise, perfect for the screamo-loving, eyeliner-wearing teen.
The store eventually expanded into clothes and became the place to pick up themed merchandise across the board.
Hot Topic constantly morphs to cater to the fad of the day, so it has stayed alive even while mall traffic has declined. It also has an online store.
The first Payless store opened in 1956. The retailer saw tremendous growth through the second half of the 20th century.
In 1991, the company had 3,295 stores. It continued to grow throughout the '90s.
Problems came at the turn of the century as competition from other retailers increased.