Businesses have never seen a year like 2020. With the coronavirus pandemic in full-swing, community staples were forced to shutter their doors for good, and no store was same from the devastating financial firestorm. Yet, before the chaos, some of the most popular businesses on the planet were already planning massive shutdowns.
The mall used to flourish with Gaps and Delia’s and Aéropostales, but as the economy became more reliant on the convenience of the internet, these once-beloved chains started scratching for customers. Before the pandemic, executives were making the tough decisions to close these stores for good.
You’ve probably routinely stopped at Walgreens to pick up your medication, along with some gum and a bag of Cheetos, so it’s surprising that the chain announced it would close 200 US stores via a “multiyear cost-cutting program.”
To be honest, we’re not surprised that the cutesy stationary store is closing 254 of its American and Canadian stores in 2020, as the use of stationery and calligraphy has truly become a lost art. The chain filed for bankruptcy in January.
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This one’s a bit more surprising, as Forever 21 ruled the mid 2000s with its cheap and trendy fast fashion pieces. Sadly, it’ll be shutting 178 stores in the US and 350 stores globally this year. The chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September.
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Those trips to Modell’s with your old man, when you tried on 50 different baseball mitts, will soon be just a distant memory. The sports retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March and will close all of its 153 stores in 2020.
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In 2004, Mean Girls didn’t exactly make it look like the trendiest store, despite having more than 100 years of success. Last year, Sears announced it would close 51 locations in February 2020. Recently, the company said it would further close all of its remaining Sears-branded stores throughout the year.
It used to be your one-stop shop for video games and nerd merch, but with services like GameFly and online stores like the Nintendo eShop, GameStop couldn’t keep up. GameStop expects to close 320 or more stores in 2020.
We could spend hours just perusing the aisles of Pier 1, as its sporadic arrays of shiny pillows and weird brass chicken sculptures are downright captivating. Unfortunately, the home decor store will close 450 stores this year, as well as some distribution centers.
Soon enough no one will be able to go to Neiman Marcus and spend a light 50… at least not at its spinoff Last Call clearance stores. The famous high-end chain will close most of its 22 Last Call discount locations this year.
Though JCPenney soared in the ’90s, after nearly a decade of declining sales, JCPenney announced in January that it would close a total of 6 stores in Montana, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, by April 24th.
While Comedy Central’s Broad City made countless jokes about the chain being a magical retail wonderland, its sales couldn’t live up to its reputation. Bed, Bath & Beyond announced that it intends to close 44 stores in 2020.
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Though Destination Maternity is a warm concept, it’s a bit impractical considering plenty of versatile retailers, such as Target, offer maternity sections. The maternity clothing retailer filed for bankruptcy protection in October and plans to close 183 stores across the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
Let’s be real… how many craft store do we really need? It’s been a battle between A.C. Moore, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby for quite a while, but sadly, A.C. Moore plans to shut down all 145 of its stores in 2020.
It’s one of America’s most iconic department stores, as its NYC location has been featured in countless movies, like 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street, but times are a-changin’ and the company unfortunately can’t keep every location open. Macy’s will close 125 stores over the next three years.
The once-beloved preppy clothing retailer, known for its chic casual wear and denim, announced in February 2019 that it would close about 230 Gap-branded stores over the next two years. It just couldn’t stay afloat as an icon of American fashion.
With its giant wall of greeting cards and endless collection of tacky knick knacks, this gift chain’s bland offerings are outdated as of 2020 (maybe not by your grandma’s standards). Hallmark plans to close at least 16 of its US stores in 2020.
Matt Stamey / Gainesville Sun / Landov
Lucky’s offers yummy, organic, natural food “for the 99%,” its prices being a fraction of the cost of rival organic food markets. Perhaps that business model wasn’t working, as the company planned to close 32 stores in February 2020 and lay off 2,500 employees.
Though this big name is the most surprising on the list, we are living in traditional retail’s end of days. The big box giant only plans to close 3 stores by April though: one store in Michigan and two in North Carolina.
The health food chain has 50 locations scattered across the Southeast and Midwest United States… and it plans to close all of them due to “continued challenges in the retail industry that impeded the company’s progress as well as its ability to refinance its debt.”
The affordable American furniture and mattress retail chain has been in business for 60 years… and sadly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2020. It plans to close 125 of its 169 existing stores.
Ryan Garza / Detroit Free Press
This past January, the audio equipment company said it planned to close 119 locations globally, including all its US stores. Now, it’ll join this long list of iconic stores that couldn’t keep doors open.
This 1879 company founded by Frank W. Woolworth was one of the first general stores to merge with other companies. Woolworth’s closed in 1997, leaving its “five and dime” legacy in its wake.
This store took shopping in the Midwest to a whole new level. Its glamorous clocks, Tiffany ceiling, and bronze placards made for an unforgettable shopping experience! Though it was acquired by Macy’s in 2006, it’s still classy to us.
As far as mid-price department stores go, it doesn’t get more classic than Mervyn’s! It was the hottest retail chain in the West until it tried to expand to the rest of the country, and the company shuttered its doors in 2008.
There was a time when two department store chains ruled the roost, and they were Macy’s and Gimbels. Founded in 1842, Gimbels even came up with a Thanksgiving Day parade before Macy’s did! Macy’s took the crown when Gimbels closed in 1986.
The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company had humble beginnings as a mail order business, but by 1930, it was the largest grocery chain in the U.S. Though it closed in 2016, it left behind the popular Woman’s Day magazine.
Sebastian Spering Kresge founded the five-and-dime, Kresge’s, in 1897. By 1962, the company expanded by opening a store you probably know well: Kmart! The remaining Kresge’s closed in 1987, and as of 2020, Kmart is following suit.
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Kinney Shoes was the largest shoe retailer chain in the U.S. in 1936, but thirty years later it was sold to Woolworth’s for $45 million. Nowadays, the remaining Kinney Shoe stores are found under a different name: Foot Locker!
We’d recognize that cursive logo anywhere! Hills was founded by Herbert H. Goldberger in 1957, and it was once the nation’s eighth-largest discount retailer. It had a quick fall from grace in the ’90s and closed by the new millennium.
This company had the honor of being the first music store chain in the U.S., and it even helped bring the Beatles to Pittsburgh for a rare concert! Despite its record-breaking (pun intended) beginnings, it closed in 2002.
Bonwit Teller wasn’t just a store — it was an experience. This high-class retailer was known for its expensive products and luxurious atmosphere, so it fit right in in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, where it was featured in several scenes.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Zayre began in 1919 as an undergarments supplier to retailers and grew into a specialty women’s wear store. Zayre was eventually sold to Ames, but its one-time subsidiary —TJ Maxx — isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
Back when people wanted to print out their photos, Fotomat was the place to go! The yellow-roofed kiosks could be found in practically every parking lot across the U.S., but they went extinct when one-hour film developing came around.
Founded in 1898, it’s no wonder “Grumbacher and Son” changed its name to the classic “Bon-Ton.” It originally sold hats and dry goods, and its product choices expanded after WWI. The chain went bankrupt in 2018, but the website is still functional!
Once the king of video rental stores, Blockbuster was a go-to when you wanted to watch the newest VHS release. Streaming services led to the company’s demise in 2013, but you can still get nostalgic in the last remaining Blockbuster in Oregon.
Are you sensing a pattern? The progression of technology also resulted in the death of Borders, which was one of the top booksellers of the early 2000s. The way things are going, we wouldn’t be surprised if books eventually go obsolete altogether.
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
’90s kids unite! The Discovery Channel Store was a hub of gifts, games, videos, and books that aimed to educate children about the world. By 2007, the company chose to educate online only and closed all of its stores.
When you were a kid, KB Toys was like a wonderland of colorful gadgets, dolls, stuffed animals, and, of course, toys. But nothing gold can last forever, and in 2009, KB Toys closed all of its stores for good.
Teavana survived in a coffee-obsessed world for 15 years before it was bought by Starbucks for $620 million. Though many of its stores have closed, you can still order Teavana products in — you guessed it — practically every Starbucks.
Like its vintage brethren, 2000’s icon Wet Seal simply couldn’t compete in a technological world! The chain went bankrupt in 2015, but you can still order some classic Wet Seal duds online.
Radio Shack was the only electronics store for miles in some areas! Most people think it closed for good in 2015, but you can still find some in parts of the U.S…
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This popular burger joint, at one point in time, rivaled McDonald’s with over 1,000 locations nationwide. Unfortunately, in 1981, it was sold to Hardee’s due to irresponsible business practices.
Launched in the 1920s, this restaurant/hotel chain had over 1,000 establishments by the ’60s. After a few decades, however, the restaurants died out, and the hotel part was sold. There was only one Howard Johnson’s still in business as of 2017.
Mad Men / AMC
In 1956, two brothers, Clifford and Stuart Pearlman, launched the first Lum’s in Florida. Their “beer-steamed” hotdogs were popular enough for the two to open 400 locations, but the brothers eventually sold the chain to KFC for $4 million.
Immortalized in a classic episode of Seinfeld, this chicken chain was launched in 1990 by country singer Kenny Rogers. Unfortunately, the chain just couldn’t break into an already saturated market, and in 1998, Nathan’s bought up the restaurants.
This franchise was known for its unique barn-shaped buildings and Big Barney burgers. At its height, there were between 300 and 400 locations, but once corporate ownership took away support during the ’80s, they quickly dropped off the map. However, one still operates in Racine, Wisconsin.
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