How Many of These 80s Mall Stores Do You Remember?

Hickory Farms

Early ’80s TV commercial playing up Hickory Farms’ free samples

If you didn’t have enough money for the food court, Hickory Farms was a lifesaver if you found yourself getting a little hungry. With its red-and-yellow barn storefront, it was one of the easiest shops in the mall to find. Specializing in meat and cheese gifts, Hickory Farms would always dole out little samples for those who couldn’t decide which meat stick or cheese block they wanted. More than a few sneaky young mallrats with no intention to buy anything could also grab a sample or two. In 2000, Hickory Farms closed their remaining mall stores, but you can still find their products at grocery stores and online.

Chess King

Chess King men's clothing ad
“The Store for Men Who Think Young” | Photo:

Originally taking its name from market research that found that the game of chess was a primary interest of teens, Chess King was a favorite mall stop for young men looking for trendy clothes and accessories like parachute pants, bomber jackets and whatever other Velcroed and zippered attire people deemed cool at the time. The like-minded Merry-Go-Round purchased Chess King in 1993 and filed for bankruptcy a year later. Chess King was gone by 1996.

Kinney Shoes

Mid-’80s Kinney Shoes commercial, complete with break dancing!

Promoted as “The Great American Shoe Store,” Kinney had affordable shoes for all occasions for every member of the family, so if you were a kid in the ’80s, your parents may well have dragged you there a few times. While they did sell other brands — like Buster Brown and Reebok — Kinney also had their own shoe lines in the ’80s, like their Stadia athletic shoes, which were marketed to capitalize on the aerobics and jogging crazes. Kinney also experimented with the resurging Velcro technology, advertising a line of kids’ sneakers called NoTies, as well as Kapers, a casual summer women’s shoe. All Kinney Shoes were closed in 1998, but its spirit lives on. One of the biggest remaining mall shoe-sellers, Foot Locker, was created as a Kinney subsidiary in the ’70s.

Suncoast Motion Picture Company

Suncoast in-store promotional video

You could occasionally find videocassette movies at the mall record store, but when Suncoast Motion Picture Company arrived on the scene in 1986, movie buffs suddenly had a one-stop shop. The venture was initially in conjunction with movie studio Paramount Pictures, who were encouraged to test the sales market after the huge success of the Raiders of the Lost Ark home video release in ’83. Video rentals were on the upswing, but Suncoast proved there were film lovers who wanted to buy their favorites and keep them. Suncoast was sold off to a few different corporations (including Best Buy) over the years, but by 2009 most of the stores were shuttered.

Written by Mike Breen

Mike Breen is a veteran writer and editor with nearly 30 years of experience. He was the longtime music editor and managing editor of Cincinnati altweekly CityBeat and his writing has also appeared in music publications like Spin, Creem and the U.K.’s NME. If you need a ringer for music trivia night, you should definitely call him.