The Death Of Department Stores And Gen X’s Childhood

I’m generally not much for nostalgia. I believe in progress, moving forward and not spending too much time dwelling on the past. Maybe it’s for selfish reasons. Makes me feel young. Don’t want to be the old guy talking about way back when. Frankly, the “good old days” are often overrated. Things change for a reason.

This last year things keep happening where I find myself being nostalgic and thinking more of the past. Life is funny that way. I lost my mother back in June. As the holiday season arrived, I thought of all the years my mom would get the catalogs from Sears, Penney’s and LaBelle’s (remember that place?), hand them to me, and I’d go nuts circling the things I wanted. Then, I’d go over it in great detail with her so she knew what the top priority items were. The closing of Sears in West Acres  brings on more of those nostalgic feelings.

I’m a child of the 80’s, born in the early 70’s. For kids of that era, the mall (and Skateland, still there but re-named) was the center of your social universe. There was no texting to meet-up. You met up at the mall, at 3pm on Saturday, by the green fountain. Remember that thing? How much lead paint was on that? Wow. When I think of the mall, I think of Sears and JC Penney’s. Yes, there’s always been the other “anchors” like Dayton’s/Macy’s and DeLaundrecies(sp)/Herbergers (I can hear the old “You’ll be pleased….at DeLaundrecies” jingle as I type). Those were mom stores though. Nothing much in there for an adolescent boy. Sears was a mishmash of everything so we would spend a lot of time looking around in there. Clothes, tools, TV’s, stereos, appliances, automotive..they had it all. Penney’s had the escalator so, if nothing else, we’d go in there to ride that.  We had our other favorites too like Kay Bee, Pirates Den (of course), Musicland, BDalton’s and Scheel’s back when they had a spot in the mall just to name a few. Virgo’s Pizza, Hot Dogs & More and Orange Julius were always there if you were hungry. All of them fading into memories over the years, briefly remembered when they are joined by another member of mid to late 1900’s retail.

Soon, Sears will be another memory to add to the pile.  We’ll manage just fine without it. I probably haven’t been in the store for years. Clearly not many of us have. We’ve navigated the many other changes over the years just fine.  The movie theater getting it’s own building WAY out in the “back” parking lot. The building of the grand new entrance/food court. Even Friday’s, the coolest thing on the planet for a while featuring servers with flare who were your buddies, is a fading memory. More Amazon, less Abercrombie these days.

For you 70’s and 80’s kids, what do you remember about the old days at the mall? We didn’t even get in to the Moorhead Center Mall. What was that arcade called again? I remember “Bandstand” but that’s about it. What stores do you miss from the mall days?

1 Response

  1. Yes!! LaBelle’s where you would wait in line until the brought your orders from the back!!! Your article felt like you pulled this straight out of my memories!! After decades I still remember the Delandracie’s jingle too! Up in Grand Forks, we had the Norby’s department store.

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