Midwestern mall stores in 1989?
July 9, 2012 1:29 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find a list of stores that would have been in midwestern malls in 1989?

I'm looking for a somewhat comprehensive list of stores that would have been in malls (specifically, midwestern malls) in the late 1980s (specifically, 1989). I've found one or two lists through basic internet searches, but I'd prefer to have a few different lists as a sample.

Is there a site that compiles this stuff? Deadmalls has been interesting, but not what I'm looking for. If anyone knows anywhere I can find mall brochures from specific years, even better!
posted by zan to Shopping (31 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I dunno, depends on the mall, really. You might have better luck with movies. A number of them were filmed in non-California malls. There's one in a movie that escapes me at the moment that was filmed in an indoor purpose-built* mall very like the one I grew up with. Every time I see it, I swear it was filmed in our mall. Googling it shows it was in the part of the country but not "my" mall. But every store, and the colors, were stock perfect for "my" mall (before the first makeover).

I specified purpose-built malls because a number of malls in my city were actually back-to-back strip-style malls that got roofed and "turned inside" out.

If there were any "mall brochures" that listed the mall's inhabitants for mere mortals (or potential store owners/investors) I've never seen it. You might want to look for filings for companies that ran malls, if they are publicly traded it might be mentioned as a list of assets (though likely only the anchors would be listed).
posted by tilde at 1:38 PM on July 9, 2012

The Malls Across America series was taken in 1989. Images are mostly of people but some shots have visible store names in the background.
posted by jabes at 1:43 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the problem is that I'm finding mostly information about anchor stores, when what I'm really looking for is the smaller stores. And jabes, that photo series is part of the inspiration for the request!
posted by zan at 1:49 PM on July 9, 2012

I think your best bet is going to be to concentrate on one mall, and contact the historical society or newspaper in that town. I'll bet a newspaper from the era would still have sale flyers or a map of the mall from a big holiday sale or something like that.

Do you want us to start listing the stores we remember from our teenage mall rat years? Because I could go on all day. I can't remember my students' names, but I can remember where I shopped for clothes 25 years ago. Jean Nicole, in case you were wondering. And sometimes the 5-7-9 Shop.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 2:05 PM on July 9, 2012

I would not object in the least to people mentioning stores they remember from that era! That might be more informative than any list I could find.
posted by zan at 2:54 PM on July 9, 2012

Here are some mall stores I remember from 1989 (Texas):

Spencer's Gifts
Chess King
Walden Books
Glamour Shots
The Gap
Wyatt's Cafeteria
Furr's Cafeteria
Orange Julius
General Cinemas
Foot Locker
Sam Goody
posted by mattbucher at 3:05 PM on July 9, 2012

This wiki page for General Growth Properties, owner-manager of many American malls, lists individual malls at the bottom; some of the linked malls have short histories, including (at least a few) tenant names and dates.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:21 PM on July 9, 2012

Wikipedia has a list of defunct retailers in the US and a list of defunct department stores in the US. Both lists are incomplete and could use a few more listings. For example, I remember the J. Riggings menswear store chain, and it is not listed.

For specific malls, local newspapers of the time probably had a Christmas ad appearing one or more times during the season that listed all of the stores, so late November and December issues could be worth looking at every page for such ads. The malls around me had information desks that did have a page or a brochure listing all of the stores. Some malls had a wall map or a freestanding kiosk with a backlit map of their stores, and sometimes a rack holding the information sheet/map - and it could be worth searching Flickr and google images by the mall name for pictures of that map, or pictures in each mall.
posted by caclwmr4 at 3:25 PM on July 9, 2012

Be careful with movies. A lot of films design their own stores in order to avoid having to get clearances or negotiate a product placement deal.

Stores I remember from my southern mall, circa the late 80's:

We had 5-7-9 and Jean Nicole, too. In fact a certain style of late 80's/early 90's clothing will always be enshrined in my memory as "the 5-7-9 look".

Chick Fil A.

Some kind of hot-dog-on-a-stick clone, I think ours was called Corn Dog 7.

The Limited.

Payless Shoes.


K B Toys.

We had a lot fewer chain stores than you'd see now. For example, we didn't have a Sam Goody, we had a locally owned record store with a goofy name like Sound Explosion. There was a women's clothing store called Solarium, which I remember mainly because the name was so odd. They sold super-stereotypical 80's clothing like acid wash jeans and dresses that looked like this.

There were also a lot more "places of business to get stuff done" and less clothing store after clothing store after clothing store. There were a couple of salons, a video arcade, a store that sold gift baskets and honey baked hams and the like, a few jewelry stores, a Hallmark store that sold greeting cards and Christmas ornaments, a Radio Shack, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 3:51 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stores I remember from the 80s in the midwest (although some of this may also be early 90s):

Spencer's Gifts (which I remember mostly for its blacklight stuff and mildly dirty novelty items)
Tilt Arcade
Orange Julius
Deb (cheap trendy clothes)
Rave (super cheap trendy/trashy clothes)
Brass Buckle (which apparently became just "The Buckle")
Chess King
Express / The Limited
Sharper Image
posted by erst at 3:54 PM on July 9, 2012

Oh.. and Musicland / Sam Goody.
posted by erst at 3:55 PM on July 9, 2012

Oh, and from caclwmr4's link, we had the following:

County Seat (clothing)

Kinney Shoes

Merry-Go-Round (accessories, I think?) -- I remember this as more of a 90's thing, though. That was where you went for your Spice Girls lunch boxes and those stupid brown plastic chokers that were supposed to look like tattoos

(BTW, one of the "anchors" of our mall was a Woolworth. Heh.)
posted by Sara C. at 3:57 PM on July 9, 2012

Here's a store directory for the Kennedy Mall in Dubuque, Iowa from December 1988:

Others not in that directory that I recall from 1989 Minnesota:
B Dalton Books
Two Plus Two (jewelry)
Radio Shack
Tradehome Shoes
posted by superna at 3:58 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Limited was its own store then, and there were also Limited Express and a separate Men's store as well (don't remember what it was called)

Lechter's Housewares were in almost every mall (at least on the east coast)
Gap was there, but may have still been The Gap at that point
Banana Republic was there, but was more of a niche company selling bomber jackets and safari-inspired clothes
KB (Kaybee?) Toys
Chess King (men's clothes)
Fashion Bug
Lane Bryant
Camelot Records (don't remember if they made it to 89 or not)
Pottery Barn would have just started being there, but only sold tableware and glassware
Hickory Farms (smoked meats!)
Units (clothing that was all pretty much shaped like tubes)

AnnieSez was big, but not sure if they were in indoor malls - may always have been large stores in strip malls
Service Merchandise (ditto)

Definitely Walden Books, Spencer's Gifts and Orange Julius
posted by Mchelly at 4:05 PM on July 9, 2012

The contents of a mall in my hometown, recently posted on a Facebook nostalgia page:

The Gap, Limited, Deb, Afterthoughts, Baker’s Shoes, Casual Corner, Humpal’s Bike Rack, Spencer Gifts, Olga’s Kitchen, JCPenney, Radio Shack, Osco, Malohney's, York Steakhouse, Diamond Daves, Chess King, Swiss Colony, Foot Locker, Lowery Organ, Carmel Korn, Orange Julius.
posted by mykescipark at 4:06 PM on July 9, 2012

Benetton, the Limited, Lerner, the Gap, arcades (Fun Factory, LeMans, Aladdin's Castle), Kinney shoes, Things Remembered, Spencer's, Victoria's Secret, Tiny Treasures (sold Hello Kitty and stuff like that), Claire's, Hickory Farms, Olga's Kitchen, Topsy's Popcorn (local Kansas City chain), Waldenbooks, B. Dalton, TCBY, Radio Shack, Musicland, Pier 1.
posted by candyland at 5:17 PM on July 9, 2012

Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids, IA is where I always shopped. Some stores I remember:

Sears, Von Maur and Younker's were/are the anchors; Killian's used to be one
Athletic Attic
KB Toys
Spencer Gifts (ugh, I know!)
It's a Small World (cutesy accessories for tweens; lots of Hello Kitty)
The Buckle
County Seat (jeans mostly)
Aladdin's Castle (arcade)
The Fly (jeans)

It had this slightly sunken area in the middle where the little food places were. That included:
Orange Julius
Pizza Hut
Taco John's (?)

There was a Bishop's Buffet on the outside of the place, and a single-screen movie theater in the parking lot.
posted by wwartorff at 5:31 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

some from Northern VA:
Waxie Maxies
Hong Kong
Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor Restaurant
Banana Republic
posted by PussKillian at 5:55 PM on July 9, 2012

Suburban Chicago:

Marshall Field's (not Macy's, god forbid) was an anchor at upscale malls like Oakbrook
Carson Pirie Scott was another anchor
JC Penney, but their stores looked more like a department store. I remember an uncle worked there for decades selling vacuum cleaners.
Montgomery Ward's

Other stores:
Mrs. Field's Cookies (unrelated to the Field's department stores - although this may be a little bit later?)
Wag's (diner)
Farrell's (old-fashioned ice cream parlor)

Apparently I also remember where I ate in the 80's, as well as what I wore.

Foot Locker
A couple of competing card stores, like Hallmark Stores, but usually one was not a chain
Morrie Mages Sports (for Sports! Morrie MAY-ges!)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:20 PM on July 9, 2012

Omg, I just remembered where my brother bought HIS clothes in the 80's (and he dressed like a typical 80's dude, right down to the ripped acid-wash jeans) - Silvermans!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:21 PM on July 9, 2012

Yeah, you can be careful of movies, but it wasn't a matter of licensing then, or they would have shot down angle or closer so we wouldn't see the names. I know of at least three movies (what ARE they - I think one has Jane Curtain robbing a mall in the PNW) that were filmed in real-at-the-time malls and it was dead real to my memory going "oh, yeah, I remember that store!".

Fine, we're listing? (memory and googling memory triggers)

Spencer Gifts
Casual Corner
B Dalton Booksellers
Mc Donalds
JC Penney
County Seat
Wicks n Sticks
Deck The Walls
Orange Julius
Hot Dog On A Stick
Souper Salad
Things Remembered
Thom Mc Ann
Montgomery Wards
Radio Shack
Athlete's Foot
Florsheim Shoes
Hit or Miss
Fox Photo
United Artist Theatres
Oshman's Sporting Goods
Computer Center
Morrow's Nut House
Hickory Farms
The Wild Pair
Miller's Outpost (I was sooo dissapointed when one opened up and it didn't have all the wood and everything).
Joske's (I kept seeing bits of the sign in pictures till someone mentioned it in a nostalgia thread)
Warehouse Records and Tapes
J Riggings? I'm not a boy so it sounds familiar ish

(oh that brown tile with grey borders!)

There was some German/Bavarian/Old World restaurant, sit down type, with yellow "europe but not quite calligraphic" lettering that was at my home mall, local mall (google fail) and the mall in my college town in the SouthWest ... Closest I can see is Dunderbach's.

I remember never buying mall clothes or shoes unless we were in the 'bargain basement' or had to get uniforms ... and a "basement" was either the top floor (no windows) or a step-down room (like six steps).

There is a mall out in Broward County that I went to once about a decade ago (they had some government office there and I had to turn in a form, or I was looking for something specific and they had a chain outlet there) and it looked as if it hadn't been made over since it was built in the 70s. Total Awesome Sauce.

Okay, I NEED to go to bed now.
posted by tilde at 7:02 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Our mall also had an old-worldish sit down restaurant. It was called The Lion's Share, decor was vaguely Spanish Inquisition, but the food was steaks, burgers, and the usual Cajun seafood. Then again, circa 1989 I don't think there was a restaurant within 100 miles of my hometown that didn't have a fried catfish or softshell crab platter on the menu.
posted by Sara C. at 7:11 PM on July 9, 2012

Oh man, I was trying to remember J. Riggings, also seconding County Seat, B. Dalton (or Brentano's), Miller's Outpost, Florsheim Shoes, Claire's Boutique, Dillard's, Casual Corner, Babbages, The Buckle, KB Toys, and adding Contempo Casuals and Foley's.

List of Defunct Retailers
posted by mattbucher at 7:35 PM on July 9, 2012

You might want to contact the local library and see if they have back issues of the yellow pages. The yellow pages might group the stores in a given mall. If not, you will have to look through the individual retail stores, and select the ones specifically at the mall address.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:18 PM on July 9, 2012

Judy's (women's clothes)
Miller's Outpost (mostly jeans)
Licorice Pizza, The Wherehouse and Music Plus

Whip Cream
Pappagallos (these I remember from the Sherman Oaks Galleria)

Laurel Plaza had an ice rink
posted by brujita at 8:19 PM on July 9, 2012

For Minnesota mall references, check out Dumpystripmalls.com. It's written by one woman but extra details are crowdsourced in the comment sections of each post. There are usually lists of previous stores, plus random photos.

Particularly relevant posts:
Maplewood Mall
Knollwood Mall
Brookdale Mall - this one is epic
posted by Maarika at 8:34 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Less likely actual copies of yellow pages at the library (we maintained a small library and cleaning out that &$*#(@& every year was $#*$)$)_!!) maybe microfiche? Or even ask the phone company! Or eBay.

Ah! So Cloak and Dagger is one (not on Netflix streaming right now), I did just screen the Jane Curtin movie (How to beat the high cost of living). Set in Oregon, filmed there, only for sure the Thom Mc Ann store, a few "generic" ones close up. The other stores were fuzzy enough that I couldn't go "aha!" on the logo even from the fuzz.

The one I always look up is Bill and Ted.
I don't have a copy and it's not on Netflix streaming right now. Here's the mall scene (thank you Uturb!) starting at 14:30 or so. I see "hot dog on a bat" so yeah, just a bit of editing on that close up, lol, licensing or joke? Zucchini on a bat (I woulda tried it). Those cheese on a stick were heart clogging goodness.

CPI Photo Finish - I remember the fox logo, and they did buy out the fox place, so maybe it was fox but eventually CPI.

Yep, there's casual corner but I remember some kind of village store too for clothes. They also have Mrs Fields, we didn't, Art Cellar, we didn't, County Seat and of course the sport store was Oshman's though they didn't show the name.

Go through each alpha page, look for keyword "mall" and find your midwest malls that way?
posted by tilde at 8:46 PM on July 9, 2012

Wow, these are some dedicated and nostalgic answers. This has put me (and my memory) off to a great start, and in the meantime, I've sent an email to a local Ohio mall to see if they have old registries of stores from 1989. Thanks for these great memory jogs!
posted by zan at 8:55 PM on July 9, 2012

The previous list was the purpose built mall ... And the Woolworth's closed and reopened a Walgreen's.

The inside-out-mall:

Walgreen's. Had a lunch counter, I had a few meals there! KMarts used to have them, too.
JoAnn's (SMALL compared to today!) with a single wall of notions (maybe two), and a table of machines (where I bought my first). The Melody Shop, Franklin Optical. Historical sites are saying a Mr Gatti's pizza was in this one, but I don't remember it (was Sbarro's by the time I got there). Texas State Optical looking at some Dallas sites ...

Stores I heard of but didn't go to (they closed, I only heard of them through the products we had in our home) TG&Y.

Some of the anchor stores in other malls I went to: White House, Popular. Mervyn's.


actually going to bed this time

posted by tilde at 9:14 PM on July 9, 2012

Midwest! http://www.storesforever.blogspot.com/

Found it! Casual Village! I'm not (that) crazy.

Other names from that list I remember:
Jeans West
Kinney Shoes
The Tinder Box
Olan Mills
Barney's Coffee
Cutlery World (I think? I remember a shop that was all knives and scissors and sharpening. Swiss Army Knives!)
Petite Sophisticate
Naturalizer Shoes
The Bombay Company (always had such exotic stuff that reached well into my adult working years)
Mitchell's Formal Wear
The Carousel Co (I had to be sooooo careful the rare times I was 'allowed' in there!)
The Golden Chain Gang
(where did I get my ears pierced?)
Bealls (now that I've seen the logo. I'm surrounded by Beall's Florida and Belk's that I forgot about Bealls!)
Looking at the Piccailly logo - seen it in the mall but never eaten there
Some kind of candy shop - AH! Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company! - expensive and we usually just got rock candy sticks.
Frame It?
Hah, one of the mall's outlying parcel stores turned into a laser tag center, and I remember one in the other mall.
Huh, looking at a map circa 1960s - a Kresge where I know a Woolworth's was in the 80s.
Wyatt's cafeteria (saw, didn't eat at) replaced by food court and movie theatre in the mid-80s.
posted by tilde at 12:17 AM on July 10, 2012

The memories! We also had a Coffee Beanery (predated the Starbucks coffee craze in the mid- to eastern US) and Cinnabon. I remember the only store my Dad wanted to go in was the Brookstone. Let's see... along with pretty much ALL the stores listed above, I remember we had a Frederick's of Hollywood (so embarrassing walking by that store with my parents), Hushpuppies shoes (although, I shopped at the Stride Rite and/or Buster Brown at that time). Petite Sophisticate and Lerner (short, overweight family). There was also a gift store I can't remember the name of that was like a less trashy Spencer's (lots of Magic Eye posters; Where's Waldo? books; Kliban cats; those clip-on koalas; WALLS of stickers since everyone collected stickers in those days; and those really annoying battery-operated boppin' flowers with big sunglasses.. and the corrals of flocked kittens and other battery-operated toys at the front of the stores.. The ones that did somersaults.. All the kids would hang out in the front watching the toys doing all their 'tricks' and that rotating fish game with the fish chomping at the bait. It's hard to imagine kids today being mesmerized by those toys and standing there for any length of time! I also remember I bought a GIGANTIC New Kids button with Joey McEntire's face on the front there. You could wear it or stand it up like a photograph! Or, you know, sleep with it under your pillow.)
posted by Mael Oui at 9:43 PM on July 12, 2012

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