These 9 Stores from the ’90s will make you nostalgic for hanging out at the mall

Thousands Of Malls Across U.S. Threatened As Retail Stores Pull Out
Getty Images | Spencer Platt

Growing up in the ’90s, hanging out at the mall was a favorite pastime for me and my friends. When I was in junior high, no Saturday afternoon was complete without being dropped off at the mall and spending hours scoping out boys, stuffing our faces with food court staples like Sbarro and trying on trendy clothes (even though we didn’t really have the money to purchase them).

As the so-called “retail apocalypse” continues to claim once-thriving stores, American malls are quickly becoming a relic of the past. When I think of an adolescence without weekends spent at the mall, I’m sad for today’s tweens who will never know the exhilaration of spotting their crush across the store as they browse the merchandise at Abercrombie & Fitch.

If you’re like me and you miss the mall heyday of your youth, check out these nine quintessential mall stores that will have you wishing for a time machine back to the ’90s.

1. Spencer’s

Back in the ’90s, Spencer’s was the place to load up on all kinds of contraband that was sure to get you in trouble with your parents, such as suggestive posters, gross gag gifts and silly costumes.

spencers gifts photo
Flickr | JeepersMedia

2. Gadzooks

Gadzooks sold clothing for men and women, and their label-conscious merchandise was a big hit with teens until they were acquired by Forever 21 in 2005.

Flickr | Tom Baddley

3. Sam Goody

In the days before Spotify reigned supreme, teens had to buy actual, physical CDs to listen to tunes, a concept that’s likely mind-blowing for today’s digital natives. Back in the ’90s, Sam Goody was the place to get the hottest new CD so you could stop waiting for your favorite single to come on the radio.

sam goody photo
Flickr | MikeKalasnik

4. Bath And Body Works

No discussion of ’90s mall mania is complete without mention of Bath and Body Works, the store responsible for iconic fragrances like Cucumber Melon, Freesia and Sun-Ripened Raspberry.

bath body works photo
Flickr | JeepersMedia

5. Contempo Casuals

If you went to the mall in the ’90s and didn’t buy at least one piece of apparel at Contempo Casuals that was guaranteed to be out of style by next season, what were you really doing with your life?

6. Claire’s

Accessories chain Claire’s could always be counted on for of-the-moment costume jewelry, and it was also the classic destination for getting yours ears pierced. The store filed for bankruptcy back in March, but may be bought by Oaktree Capital Management.

claires mall photo
Getty Images | Tim Boyle

7. PacSun

Pacific Sunwear of California — more commonly known to loyal shoppers as PacSun — epitomized the Southern California lifestyle for teens across the country, and despite some ups and downs, the brand is still going strong today under the newly formed operating company PacSun Eddie Bauer Group.

pacsun photo
Flickr | JeepersMedia

8. As Seen On TV

If you were a sucker for infomercials, you probably loved As Seen On TV, a store where you could purchase a number of iconic products as seen on late-night infomercials, such as OxiClean or George Foreman Grills. These days, some As Seen On TV stores still exist, and you can also shop their website.

Dulles Town Center

9. The Limited

The Limited and its little-sister counterpart, Limited Too, were go-to destinations for stylish women’s and girls’ apparel in the ’90s, but the stores closed in 2017. The brand lives on through its website.

Curiosity, Life, Products, Style & Beauty
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About the Author
Kate Streit
Kate Streit lives in Chicago. She enjoys stand-up comedy, mystery novels, memoirs, summer and pumpkin spice anything.

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