In the past few years, many of America’s beloved major retailers announced that they’d be closing their stores—Papyrus, Macy’s, Pier 1 Imports, JCPenney—the list goes on. It’s a pattern we’ve seen in retail history, time and time again. It starts with chains downsizing, attempting to manage their debt and restructuring. Some are able to recover. Many, however, end up filing for bankruptcy and/or getting bought out, and eventually folding.
LOOK: Here are 50 of your favorite retail chains that no longer exist
It’s a cycle we’re familiar with. The economy improves and the market becomes saturated with choice. When the economy slows, dips, and dives, very few are able to survive. With each cycle, stores that we thought would always be around, stores that defined our childhoods, even our parents’ childhoods, fizzle, fade, and become stuff of retail history. Some of these brands are iconic, like Tower Records, Thom McAn and Kids “R” Us.
Through a variety of sources, we took a close look at the various major retail chains that no longer exist. For many of these chains, they were leading the pack at one point in history. Many of these stores even paved the way for their competitors, who eventually overtook them. Blockbuster, for example, until Amazon started selling similar products online.
While it’s all part of evolution and Darwinian economics, the sad reality is that when these stores die, part of our memories go with them. Still, it’s a lesson that most businesses have to learn: Adapt with the times or be lost forever.