Town Center Mall in Cobb County, GA faces foreclosure amid a 35-year history. While the future is cloudy, the mall remains open with anchor stores Macy’s, Belk, and JC Penney. This has been the home mall for Karen Flieger since it open in 1985. She shares pictures from a recent visit and some memories over the years…
I have two specific memories of going to my local Circus World in Town Center Mall. One of the visits was pretty close to when the mall opened and the other was maybe a few months to a year later.
Both of the visits I remember were when my family went to the mall after church on Sundays. I remember Circus World was on the lower level. The first time we went, I got a Glimmer Princess of Power doll and my brother got Mantenna from MOTU’s “Evil Horde” line.
It was one of the few times the two of us received toys from the same or similar lines. I usually wanted to get the “good girl” characters (Purple Pieman was one of the few times I wanted a villain, and he was mild by most standards). My brother didn’t seem to have the same reservations. He also had Skeletor from MOTU and Serpentor from GI Joe.
The other specific Circus World visit I remember was around the time Duncan yo-yo commercials were getting really heavy airplay on Nick at Nite. I think we even made a special trip to the mall just to get the yo-yo’s. I got a blue butterfly yo-yo. My brother got one that glowed in the dark.
The yo-yo’s were all in a box at the front of the store and either my mom or dad showed me one with a cat on it and the cat had a rhinestone eye. I declined it, not knowing that the ones with the “jewels” were what we would now refer to as “chase” items. My dad ened up buying it for himself but kept it in the same dresser as his Halloween sweater.
On some mall trips, if we didn’t go downstairs to Circus World, we went upstairs to KayBee, which was on the upper floor of Town Center Mall. I don’t know if it’s a thing to be biased about which floor of a mall is better, but most of the stores I really wanted to go to tended to be upstairs. The food court was also upstairs, which was another thing that floor had going for it.
I remember getting Shana from the Jem and the Holograms line at Kaybee. I’m pretty sure I had moved on from Strawberry Shortcake and Princess of Power by that point and was more interested in Jem and Barbie. Kenner may even have stopped making Strawberry Shortcake dolls by then, which probably made my decision a lot easier.
Here’s an interesting coincidence: the Glimmer and Shana dolls both have curly purple hair. I have to give Glimmer the win here because she had accessories that used to glow in the dark. I also liked that I could wear her tiara as a ring, but I don’t have her tiara anymore. A fellow doll/toy collector on Instagram did give me some helpful advice to put Glimmer’s staff back in her hand.
The Jem line was tricky because you could put Jem clothes on Barbie without much of a problem. Jem’s clothes were just a little bit baggy on Barbie. On the other hand, I did serious damage to some Barbie outfits by trying to put them on my Jem dolls.
Another fun thing about Kaybee was their little penguin staircase in the front of the store. A not so fun thing about Kaybee was that it was right next to the “pet store”. It was sad enough hearing the puppies and kittens crying when we were little kids, but when we found out about what those stores really were, it was even worse.
WaldenBooks & B. Dalton
Eventually, trips to the mall for me were less about toys and more about going to Walden Books or B. Dalton for the latest installment of Sweet Valley Twins/High, Babysitters Club, or a Christopher Pike book.
Christopher Pike’s novels were especially popular in my eighth grade class. We all wanted one of his books for our silent reading times. Eventually, the parents and/or teachers found out about the paranormal and horror themes in the books and they ended up being banned at school. Some of the kids weren’t allowed to get them any more at all. I liked them because they were scary without being too graphic.
Another appealing section of the bookstores was the Humor section where we got the Second Garfield Treasury. My brother and I were both big fans of the lasagna loving cat. Each for our own reasons, but Garfield was not considered acceptable for silent reading at school either.
At one point, there was a candy store and I remember getting “Ice Cubes”, which were cubes of chocolate with a slight mint flavor and non-pereils, little round chocolates with multi-colored sprinkles on them. They also had the soda flavored gum: Cherry Seven Up and A & W Root Beer.
The A & W flavor was especially memorable because one time I put too many in my mouth and ended up spending a Saturday afternoon in my orthodontist’s office. A Saturday I was supposed to be spending selling Krispy Kreme donuts as a fundraiser for the school literary magazine. I don’t think I put another piece of gum in my mouth until I got my braces off a few weeks before my junior prom.
In a previous article about my tenth birthday, I shared my recollection of going to Claire’s to get my ears pierced. That was not my only visit to that store. I also bought a fedora there during the height of my New Kids on the Block phase.
Later, I bought a velvet chauffeur cap. I wanted a newsboy hat because I was in love with Newsies, but I was unaware those hats were made with wool. I am ridiculously allergic to wool, but have no problem at all with velvet, so it was a pretty nice compromise.
The hat craze continued with “Blossom” hats, straw hats with the front brim pushed up and a faux flower attached in the center of the folded brim. Not only did the actress who played Blossom, (Mayim Bialik) and her friend, Six (Jenna Von Oy) wear these hats, they were also featured on Beverly Hills 90210 (as worn by the Shannen Doherty/Brenda Walsh doll).
At some point in the early 1990’s, it was fashionable for girls to walk around with small bottles of bubble solution around our necks. We called them “bubble necklaces”.
As with anything else we considered fun and adults considered a distraction, it wasn’t long before bubble necklaces were banned at school. For some reason, I remember these being particularly popular while Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” was getting heavy airplay, so it must have been the early 1990’s. In fact, I remember being in the parking lot of our local mini golf course blowing bubbles while that song was playing.
The Disney Store
A few years before the Warner Brothers Studio Store opened at rival mall Perimeter, Town Center got a Disney Store. The Disney store was popular for its huge plush toy selection and at my high school, tumblers with characters from the animated movies.
The tops of the tumblers had colorful lids that when you twisted the top, a straw would pop out. The sides of the tumbler had a liquid glitter wall with little plastic shapes related to an object in the movie floating in the glittery water. On the Peter Pan tumbler I had, there were tiny green plastic crocodiles. My Aladdin tumbler had pieces shaped like Genie’s lamp.
Bath & Body Works
Often confused with Bed, Bath & Beyond, Bath and Body Works was the second best smelling store in the mall. Behind Yankee Candle, at least. Nineties girls remember three scents in particular: Sun-Ripened Raspberry, Sea Island Cotton, and Cucumber Melon.
Bath & Body Works also had two perfumes: Gingham and Heartland. Gingham made a return a couple of years ago and I have a bottle on my dresser right now.
Something else Bath & Body Works had in the early days is The Happy Massager. I still have mine on the bookshelf with Squishy Bill. This little guy is made of wood and you rub it on your neck, shoulder, or anywhere else you feel tension.
These days, my favorite products are the pillow mists in their Aromatherapy line, especially the lavender scented ones. Every night before I get into bed, I spritz my pillow and put some matching lotion on myself.
My other favorite products are their foaming hand soaps, especially in the past year. I started buying them with the idea that nice soaps would make frequent hand washing something to look forward to and ordered some seasonally themed soaps. When the soaps arrived, I would take pictures of the bottles and posted polls on Twitter to let my followers help me decide which of the special scented soaps I should use next.
I remember when Spencer’s was where you went to get a gag gift for a parent or relative’s birthday. They had a lot of practical joke items as well. These days Spencer’s is half-Hot Topic and half bachelorette party supplies. Most recently, for Christmas, I bought my brother a mug with different kinds of pizza depicted on it and a bag of gummy bears.
Most of the stores listed above have long since left Town Center Mall and the branding has been removed. Claire’s is still there, but on my last visit, someone was in the window seat getting a piercing, so I didn’t take a picture of the storefront that day.