Warner Bros. Studio Store
Kay Bee Toys
I spent many, many hours at the mall when I was in junior high and high school so this was hard to narrow down. Waldenbooks? When I was in junior high, my friends and I would go in there just to read the dirty joke books. Later on, I’d go in there to read the music rags. Corndog 7? I could score free food but not technically a store. The Brass Buckle? I didn’t go in there to shop so much as I went in there because the girl I had a crush on worked there. Hastings Records and Tapes? Bins right down the middle of the store full of LP’s. Walls lined with tape cubbies. Poster racks in the back. “Now Playing” album rack hanging on the wall by the cash register. I used to love to thumb through the heavy metal albums just to see how weird they were. But I digress. I’d have to say my absolute favorite was Aladdin’s Castle. Although not technically a store, I did spend many a hard-earned dollar there. I spent more time in that establishment than anywhere else in the mall. Every trip would start and end there. Like a heroin addict, getting a fix before I walked the mall then back later for more. Before you could drive, your parents dropped you off and picked you up there. If you’ve seen the arcade scenes in Stranger Things season two then you’ve seen me.
Where I grew up in rural southwest Virginia, we didn’t have a lot of options shopping wise. We had K-Mart, Roses, and Magic Mart, but that was really about it. There were no real specialty shops around, except for at the Bristol Mall, which was a 45-minute ride, and that wasn’t a trip we made too often when I was a kid. Early on, I fell in love with the Spencer Gifts store there mainly because it seemed taboo with some of the more exotic items they sold. But it was also the only place around where you could get a t-shirt featuring your favorite band, or cool belt buckles, and those awesome black light posters. We couldn’t even find places to order that kind of stuff from around here, so having that one place we knew for sure would have those unique items was great.
The Wig Shoppe
While I am tempted, of course, to go with something refined and elegant like Spencer’s Gifts— I mean, who doesn’t love an apron with fake plastic tits on it, after all?— or decadent and gluttonous like Mr. Bulky’s candy shop, I will instead blow your mind with my dark horse pick of The Wig Shoppe. That’s right, The Wig Shoppe. Fake mustaches? Check. Wigs? Double check. Crazy owner-lady of ethnically ambiguous origin who verbally assaulted you without reason upon entering her store? Triple check. That’s what we call a wig shop trifecta, friends. Dark, spooky and always completely void of customers, The Wig Shoppe was scarier than any manufactured Halloween haunt. And like a cockroach, it lived forever; according to Wikipedia, it was one of two tenants remaining (GNC being the other, natch) when Metro North Mall closed for good in April of 2014. And some people say if you stand in the empty lot where the mall once stood, you can still hear the rustle of wind through a beautiful horse-hair wig and a voice softly screeching “YOU GOING BUY SOMETHING NOW OR GET OUT!”
Now that you’ve read our selections, don’t forget to leave us a note about YOUR favorite store at the mall in the comments.