Growing up there were always those stores you knew you could go to. Whether it was a major retail toy store as a kid, an electronics and gaming store as a teenager, or a trendy clothing store as a young adult, there was always a recognizable brand name that we knew and trusted. The world has changed since then and, unfortunately, many of those stores that we could once rely on have disappeared. Take a walk down memory lane in some of the most popular, now closed, retail stores that we once loved so much!
Blockbuster was founded in 1985 and established itself as one of the biggest video-rental chains in the country during the 1990s and early 2000s. But the company has barely managed to stay afloat with the rapid industry changes, including the start of Netflix’s DVD-by-mail services in 1997, and the move to streaming services later on. Blockbuster didn’t manage to survive the competition, filing for bankruptcy in 2010 and closing down in 2014.
Tower Records was established in 1960, ruling the retail music business throughout the '70s, '80s, and a big part of the '90s. Huge stars such as Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and Dave Grohl were associated with Tower Records. But as the industry evolved and moved to streaming services and online sources, Tower Records eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2004. Though they officially closed down in 2006, there are still a couple of stores in existence in countries like Japan and Ireland.
Toys "R" Us was founded in 1957 and has been a gigantic name in the toy industry for the longest time. Unfortunately, though, they also didn’t manage to keep pace with the constantly changing industry, especially with big stores such as Target, Walmart, and Amazon establishing themselves in the field. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and closed its stores a year later. Toys "R" Us’ parent company, Try Kids, has opened a number of new stores across the US while trying to modernize consumers’ experiences.
Fotomat originated in 1965, gaining prominence mostly during the 1970s. Customers would drop off their film, which would be developed overnight at Fotomat and picked up the day after. The golden-hutted kiosk was available in several locations in the US, usually at convenient parking lots near residential areas. However, when one-hour photo processing, and eventually the digital photography industry came through, Fotomat completely lost its foot. They officially closed in 2009.
RadioShack was founded in 1921 and was the perfect spot for CB radios back in the days. But the company didn’t manage to offer the same or better shopping experiences than online competitors such as Amazon and Best Buy, calling it quits in 2015 after filing for bankruptcy. RadioShack closed most of its stores in 2017 and filed for bankruptcy for a second time. Today, RadioShack Express can still be found inside a HobbyTown in several locations around the country.
Gadzooks was founded in 1983 and was once the perfect stop for '80s and '90s teenage mall-goers. The retail store supplied different fashion trends of the time, including JNCO pants and Doc Martens footwear. But because tastes and trends continued to change with the years, and Gadzooks failed to adapt, the story simply fell out of style. They filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and were acquired by Forever 21 in 2005.
Woolworth was founded back in 1879 and was initially a discount retailer that sold a range of items and included a lunch counter. Back then, Woolworth was a part of the famous five-and-dime stores that were rapidly taken over by more modern drugstores and dollar stores, including Amazon and Walmart. By 2001 though, the company decided to focus mostly on its footwear stores. Curiously, Woolworth actually has no historical links to the similarly named Woolworths company.